First-of-its-kind National Partnership Aims to Redesign Child Welfare Into Child- and Family Well-Being Systems

Press Releases

Chicago—The U.S. Children’s BureauCasey Family Programsthe Annie E. Casey Foundation and Prevent Child Abuse America are partnering to launch a national effort to prove it is possible to fundamentally rethink child welfare by creating the conditions for strong, thriving families where children are free from harm.

This first-of-its-kind effort—Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Well-Being—will work across the public, private and philanthropic sectors to assist jurisdictions in developing more just and equitable systems that benefit all children and families and break harmful intergenerational cycles of trauma and poverty.

“Having invested heavily in elevating the voices of parents and youth with lived experience in child welfare, we now have not only the opportunity but the obligation to act on what they’ve told us they need to stay strong and healthy,” says Jerry Milner, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Administration of Children and Families. “Our four organizations are uniquely prepared and driven to do just that, by transforming child welfare into a child and family well-being system.”

Thriving Families will help select jurisdictions move from traditional, reactive child protection systems to systems designed to proactively support child and family well-being and prevent child maltreatment and unnecessary family separation.

“Every child deserves a safe, stable and permanent family and all families deserve the opportunities and supports to raise their children safely and successfully in their own homes, communities and cultures,” said Dr. William C. Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs. “This important effort will demonstrate how all sectors of a community can work together to reallocate resources into equitable, hope-inspiring services and supports that reduce the need for foster care and improve the well-being of children and families across the nation.”

This multiyear commitment will provide resources and support from the four partners and other relevant child- and family-serving federal agencies, jurisdictions, diverse community stakeholders and the public, private, faith-based and philanthropic sectors to create more just, equitable and humane child and family well-being systems.

The initiative will be composed of three tiers of action:

  • Tier One—Select jurisdictions will serve as demonstration sites, collaborating with the initiative’s partners for intensive technical support and resources to help realize their goal of creating child and family well-being systems.
  • Tier Two—The effort will partner with jurisdictions to focus on policy and systemic reforms at the state, tribal or territorial level.
  • Tier Three—The effort will share lessons learned to help inform and inspire other jurisdictions in launching their own journeys in building child well-being systems.

Tier One work will soon begin in California/LA County, Colorado, Nebraska and South Carolina. The effort is working to identify and invite Tier Two jurisdictions.

Thriving Families seeks to demonstrate that intentional, coordinated investment in a full continuum of prevention and robust community-based networks of support will promote overall child and family well-being, equity and other positive outcomes for children and families. The partners believe it is time to act on what we know: Community and family support helps keep children safe and well.

Thriving Families is rooted in the recognition that all families need help sometimes and that seeking help is a sign of strength and resiliency and that we should strive to keep children safe with their families as opposed to safe from their families. The challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic have underscored the urgency to create such systems.

“Families are our greatest asset in ensuring that all children are safe and have what they need to thrive and succeed—especially now, during the coronavirus crisis,” said Dr. Melissa T. Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “This extraordinary moment provides an opportunity to shift the narrative from child welfare to child well-being. We must leverage this new way of thinking to develop and deliver effective and impactful community-based resources that assist families in ways which strengthen and help keep them together.”

The Thriving Families effort will include diverse community stakeholders—most importantly families with lived expertise—to help them discern and develop the supports, resources, services and approaches to meet the unique needs of their families and promote the conditions to help them thrive.

Work will focus on creating and enhancing networks of community-based supports and aligning government resources to provide a full prevention continuum that strengthens community protective factors and parental protective capacities and mitigate associated risk factors.

“Now is a time to reimagine how we as a collective of caring and supportive adults—child welfare practitioners, parents, children and older youth, advocates and community partners—can redefine the mission and objectives of child welfare to help ensure all children, Black, Brown and Indigenous families who have been overrepresented in our systems, have the opportunities they need and deserve to thrive,” says Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, vice president of the Center for Systems Innovation at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “This is the moment to urgently build a child and family well-being system that propels families to grow and thrive together on their terms.”

The U.S. Children’s Bureau
The Children’s Bureau (CB) is the first federal agency within the U.S. Government—and in fact, the world—to focus exclusively on improving the lives of children and families. Since its creation by President Taft in 1912, CB has tackled some of our nation’s most pressing social issues. CB is headed by the Associate Commissioner. CB focuses on matters related to child welfare, including child abuse and neglect, child protective services, family preservation and support, adoption, foster care, and independent living and administers funding for state, tribal and territorial child welfare program and discretionary grant programs. CB recommends legislative and budgetary proposals, operational planning system objectives and initiatives, and projects including evaluation, research, and demonstration activities. CB also represents ACYF in interagency activities to initiate and implement projects affecting children and families.

Casey Family Programs
Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care in the United States. By working together, we can create a nation where Communities of Hope provide the support and opportunities that children and families need to thrive. Founded in 1966, Casey Family Programs works in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and with tribal nations across North America to influence long-lasting improvements to the well-being of children, families and the communities where they live. Visit to learn more.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private philanthropy that creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. Visit to learn more.

Prevent Child Abuse America
Prevent Child Abuse America is a leading champion for all children in the United States. Founded in 1972, we are the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect, working to actively prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect before they occur and helping children grow up to be productive, contributing members of their communities and society. Our success is founded on a nationwide network of state chapters and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visiting sites, which directly provide parents and caregivers a wide variety of services and resources. Our comprehensive approach is informed by science—we translate and disseminate innovative research to promote proven solutions that our vast network then puts into action. And we raise public awareness and advocate for family friendly policies at the national, state, and local levels to support transformative programs and promote the conditions and contexts that help children, families, and communities across the country thrive.


The U.S. Children’s Bureau
Administration for Children & Families
Health and Human Services

Caroline Thorman
Director of communications
Desk: 202.401.4777
Cell: 202.841.0035

Casey Family Programs
Melanie Coon
Communications manager

The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Gina Davis
Senior communications associate

Prevent Child Abuse America
Charles Mutscheller
Chief Communications Officer


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