Thriving Families, Safer Children

What is Thriving Families, Safer Children?

The first-of-its-kind Thriving Families, Safer Children movement, which now includes child welfare sites in 22 states, is supported by Casey Family Programs, Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and The U.S. Children’s Bureau as an opportunity to create a more just and equitable child and family well-being system.

Primary Prevention Grants

PCA America has received funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to support the Thriving Families movement. Its goals are to transform child welfare policy and systems through strategic financial and technical assistance supports that will focus on building sustainable, long-term partnerships and pathways between primary prevention and downstream prevention and treatments efforts. It is our vision that every child and family will have access to the community supports and services they need to keep their children safe, their families financially secure, and ensure their health, well-being and happiness. This grant will focus on the core components of public health approaches to preventing child abuse and neglect

We are funding 9 of our PCA America chapters, representing both Round 1 and Round 2 sites!


Learn More About the Projects Proposed by Each of our Grantee Organizations

Families Forward Virginia (Prevent Child Abuse Virginia)

The project addresses inequities in resource access by implementing 5-7 Family Resource Centers to reduce resource deserts and expand existing FRCs. We will also build a statewide FRC network to measure collective impact. This opportunity will foster community engagement, promote an equitable model of partnering to provide multiple services, and give Families Forward the ability to connect our three home visiting models and our parenting support programs to establish a continuum of services. The overarching goal is to minimize crisis, mitigate the need for intervention services, and strengthen family well-being.

The grant will support personnel and infrastructure needs. Families Forward is seeking support for a Prevention Director that would champion the project management of the TFSC work, be a state and local liaison between partners, manage FRC implementation and ongoing technical assistance, and supervise the Community Engagement Manager and Parent Engagement Specialist. Families Forward is also seeking to provide compensation to invite five additional PWLE to become Core Team members. Specific Project activities include:

  • Provide full-time staff support
  • Analyze FRC landscape of resources and needs in communities
  • Develop a set of measures/outcomes to guide locality selection
  • Work with Unite US VA to leverage data to identify resource deserts
  • Develop and manage subcontracts with lead agencies in communities
  • Manage subcontract with state universities in participating in research and evaluation
  • Provide guidance and technical assistance to communities
  • Build a FRC network

Virginia is a Round 2 Site.

FamilyWise (Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota)

FamilyWise will reimagine our work by expanding our Neurobiology, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience(NEAR) Training to youth. By adapting this program for a new audience, our goal is to equip high school-age youth with the tools to address ACEs in a hopeful way, leading to self-healing individually and in their communities. Reaching youth earlier will also lead to systems change. As the RFP states, we have an opportunity to “shift from a punitive child welfare system to a…system that focuses on primary prevention.” FamilyWise believes that tailoring NEAR Training to meet young people’s needs is a key step in a whole-family approach to prevention that can address structural inequities and intergenerational trauma.

Grant funds would support our plan to update and adapt NEAR Training for adolescents and young adults so they are equipped to learn about ACEs in ways that give them the tools to address their trauma and avoid re-traumatization.

This initiative responds to community goals, as FamilyWise has heard from high school communities that would like to extend their adult ACEs training to students. We will co-create the activities by engaging people with lived experience and community wisdom to update the curriculum so it speaks to youth and supports their path to resilience while navigating ACEs.

Given that NEAR Training and the ACE Interface are time-tested, we know there is less flexibility in revising the formal elements. FamilyWise will focus on the more informal aspects of the process, such as how to help youth work through re-traumatization that maybe triggered during discussion of experiences such as abuse or neglect. FamilyWise will pay stipends to youth as they co-create the curriculum.

Minnesota is a Round 2 Site.

Idaho Children's Trust Fund (Prevent Child Abuse Idaho)

To guide the work we’ve developed a 20 member steering group of representatives of state agencies, courts, schools, non-profit advocacy groups and individuals with lived experience, including foster care alumni, Head Start and parent leaders who come from Idaho’s white, Latino, Black, indigenous and refugee communities. As a coordinating entity rather than the generator of all actions, our TFSC Collaborative will work with existing efforts to organize Head Start parent alumni, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children’s (Idaho AEYC) Beneficiary Voice listening project, Idaho AEYC early education collaboratives, and assist where appropriate with the development of parent leadership training and organizational development.

We will bolster and expand connections between existing initiatives in Idaho, identify and fill the gaps to strengthen the involvement of people with lived experience. We’ll work in tandem with local collaboratives being developed statewide by the Governor-appointed Early Childhood Advisory Council and the Idaho AEYC. Using the local Early Learning Collaborative (ELC) model, communities across Idaho will bring together parents, early childhood educators, school districts, community/business leaders, and other stakeholders to continually assess and evaluate opportunities to strengthen the services and resources available for young children and their families. These localized vehicles will be used to connect initiatives so that children can move more seamlessly through systems and parents can get the support they need. Special focus will be given to early learning collaboratives and Head Start partners to develop parent leadership to engage with these system building efforts.

Idaho is a Round 2 Site.

Illuminate Colorado (Prevent Child Abuse Colorado)

The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families has a linked collaboration structure, which includes the Family and Caregiver Space (FCS). The FCS is an affinity group led by, and for, family voice leaders, whose purpose is to create an alignment of strengths by empowering individuals and facilitating ideas that enact desired change within Colorado communities. This is a brave space for storytelling, generating best practices for community engagement, and providing recommendations to the larger Partnership. Family voice leaders also participate in the Partnership’s Steering Committee, and have hosted listening sessions on state legislation, presented at conferences, and led recruitment efforts to expand family voice perspectives in the Partnership.

The Family and Caregiver Space seeks to design and implement a project entitled the Story of the System, with the objective of uplifting Coloradans’ stories to understand barriers and facilitators around navigating systems, including public health, human services, and healthcare. The long-term goal is to not only address these barriers and opportunities, but to change the narrative around systems and families, and create a call to action for transforming systems. The project would be led by FCS members, with support from Partnership members and Illuminate Colorado (the CPTF Backbone Organization). Specific activities would include planning and implementation of qualitative data collection methods, such as interviews with families across the state, beginning with the five Demonstration Counties currently collaborating with the Partnership. Grant funds would support the aforementioned activities via incentives for participating families, and would cover personnel, communications, and contractual costs.

Colorado is a Round 1 Site.

Nebraska Children (Prevent Child Abuse Nebraska)

Nebraska proposes to initiate a participatory action research study among PWLE that will cycle through each Core Component to provide new insight on how, where, when, and with whom community collaboratives should intervene to achieve the above goals.

We will conduct participatory action research (PAR), centering voices of PWLE in answering these questions:

  • What root causes of inequity in the CW system should CWB collaboratives address?
  • How can prevention services address root causes in ways that are both universal and culturally appropriate?)
  • What do families need most at critical periods in their children’s development?
  • What systemic barriers must be removed?

In each of 3 TF communities, we will use snowball sampling to identify 20 parents and youth from groups overrepresented in the child welfare system, who will be fully compensated for their time. Engaging in an interactive process with researchers, they will: build capacity to engage in the project; review and collect additional data; co-create answers to research questions; share findings and recommendations; become active leaders in their local CWB collaborative. Data collection methods will include existing data reviews, surveys, interviews, focus groups, talking circles. We will reconvene participants to make recommendations for CW transformation to local and state leaders, then prepare and disseminate a final report.

Nebraska is a Round 1 Site.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida (Prevent Child Abuse Florida)

Prevent Child Abuse Florida (PCA Florida) is partnering with Family Support Services (FSS) to provide parent leadership opportunities through the Parent Ambassadors pilot program.

Our goals are to:

  • Co-create opportunities and empower parent leaders with “lived experiences” child welfare
  • Address intergenerational trauma caused by systemic and structural racism
  • Co-create pathways to support families before governmental intervention

The PCA Florida/FSS collaboration will co-plan with Parent Engagement Ambassadors with lived experiences to implement and host Be Strong Families The Parent Cafés. The Cafes are led by parents and caregivers, to help parents support and help each other. Parents will be trained in the model to “host” cafes and compensated for their time. This not only provides leadership opportunities for parents but training in a new skill and an income. This will empower parent leaders with “lived experiences”, increase protective factors and increase social connection among parents in the community. Parent Engagement Ambassadors will recruit other parents, market the Parent cafés, solicit sponsors for the Café, arrange transportation, facilitate training, coordinate meals for the weekly meetings and even interview other parents for leadership roles. Parent Cafes will be held in daycare and community centers within a high child removal area of the 32209 community.

Florida is a Round 2 Site.

Prevent Child Abuse Arizona

Arizona’s Thriving Families, Safer Children Core Team requests support for the coordination of a lived expertise fellowship. This fellowship will support the engagement of a group of lived experts to prepare them to lead our site’s Thriving Families, Safer Children effort.

The tentatively named “Living to Leading Fellowship” will be made up of 3-5 African Americans with lived experience of the child protection or family service systems in Arizona. These fellows will be paid a monthly stipend to attend meetings and learn about systems and strategies related to the focus of Thriving Families, Safer Children. Meetings will include local and national Thriving Families, Safer Children meetings and Burns Institute Action Network sessions. Learning opportunities will include activities such as meeting with local state agency leaders, community leaders, and groups focused on family wellbeing, as well as meeting with leaders in other states to learn about strategies relevant to Thriving Families, Safer Children goals.

Arizona is a Round 2 Site.

Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky

The initial communication from Prevent Child Abuse America regarding the Thriving Families Round 2 opportunity, called for the PCA State Chapter to be involved in the work, and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK) has heeded that call. PCAK was instrumental, along with the other initial participants, in identifying additional TFSC collaborators. The state child welfare agency (DCBS) has also been at the table since the beginning, and they continue to be a strong voice. The Thriving Families work in Kentucky has been a collaborative effort among PCAK, DCBS, representatives with lived expertise, and other key stakeholders. PCAK has attended state meetings, participated in the national Thriving Families meetings, and convened our group to discuss both grant opportunities. We will continue to not only implement the work but also seek out opportunities to expand the work and ensure the sustainability of Kentucky’s identified priorities, and we do so collaboratively with the entire group.

Funds will provide support and professional development to those with lived experience creating a system of true codesign and power sharing to promote family and community wellbeing. Training and consultation will be provided to child welfare and community-based providers to prepare for partnering with those with lived experience. Activities to be included:

  • Development of a Leadership Academy to provide professional development for members of the new Parent Advisory Council and others with lived experience. Participants will gain skills in public speaking, advocacy, legislative testimony, partnering for change, and leadership.
  • Professional development opportunities for child welfare and community-based providers to develop complementary skills and attitudes to embrace an approach of co-design and power sharing to work with lived experience partners effectively.
  • Leverage the existing Parent Advisory Council and other partners’ work to ensure sustainability.

Kentucky is a Round 2 Site.

The Villages (Prevent Child Abuse Indiana)

To expand prevention efforts in Indiana, and to ensure community engagement, a Statewide Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework and Toolkit was created. Prevent Child Abuse Indiana (PCAIN) aided in the creation of the Framework. We recognize the importance of each community using it in a manner that best fits its identified needs. We also recognize the importance of providing support and analysis in community efforts to effect change. PCAIN proposes providing technical assistance in the Framework’s implementation in diverse pilot counties in Indiana.

In year one, PCAIN will identify four counties who will pilot the implementation of the Framework and accompanying Toolkit. With the assistance of local partners, including agencies who serve diverse populations, we will identify a cross-sector group, including those with lived experience, who are working toward decreasing harm and increasing protective factors. We will convene theses identified members and assist them in creating a Community Action Plan. This plan will include goals and action steps from the Framework that, based upon pre surveys and focus groups, best fit the needs and strengths of their community. We will aid in tracking progress toward achieving their goals, such as to what degree the resources in the Framework were utilized; was there an increase in engagement from families or other community partners. Post surveys and focus groups will again be used for analysis. Data will be reviewed and recommendations made for year two with four new counties participating in implementation.

Indiana is a Round 2 Site.

Youth, Family, and Community Partnership Grants

Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) has received grant funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support youth, family, and community partnership building grants. The grants are intended for community-based non-profits with a history of engaging Black, Latino, and Indigenous youth and families within Round 2 Thriving Families, Safer Children sites in the United States.

We are excited to announce that we will be providing funding for 10 organizations representing 8 sites!


Learn more about each of our awardees

Center for Family Life in Sunset Park

Center for Family Life in Sunset Park is located in New York City. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

We will conduct 3, 4-month long Community Study Circles with diverse groups of residents led by a trained facilitator with shared life experiences to participants. Using a popular education methodology groups engage an exploration of participants’ settlement experiences in their neighborhoods, contextualized in historical data on settlement in the community. Groups review publicly available child welfare data (ex: SCR calls, investigations, indications of CAN, removals, reunifications, terminations of parental rights and adoptions) that are understood by participants, their family members and neighbors as lived experiences and part of neighborhood life. Groups review data on the socioeconomic status of their neighborhood including numbers living in poverty, receiving Medicaid and public assistance, levels of educational attainment, etc., conditions that are directly experienced by participants, and comparative data demonstrating experiences of adjacent communities. Groups conclude with dissemination of learnings and recommendations to community members, to elected officials and officials in the child welfare administration.

Collaborative Solutions for Communities

Collaborative Solutions for Communities is located in Washington D.C Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

In months 1-6, in partnership with the Counsel for Truth: A Public Health Initiative (CTPHI) co-founders, we will co-design truth-telling circles (TTCs). To do this, we will: invite our staff who lead and the community/children/families who experience CSC’s restorative practices to 3 community meetings; invite those with lived experience, community collaborative stakeholders, and CFSA representatives to bi-weekly co-design meetings; and collaborate with the evaluation team. Our focus will be on developing a TTC model that focuses on healing, reconciliation and using post-traumatic wisdom.

In months 7-9, we will: leverage our Training Institute team to co-create the training curricula; identify TTC facilitators; co-deliver the facilitator training; and recruit a range of stakeholders to launch the TTCs. In months 10-12, we will host TTCs in the DC community, participate in the TTC learning community, and engage in understanding the impacts of our initial TTC implementation efforts.

Evolution Foundation/The Oklahoma Family Network

Evolution Foundation/The Oklahoma Family Network is located in Oklahoma. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

1). Create a parent advisory council for the Office of Juvenile Affairs, canted toward minority family members, recruited from the seven OJA state districts. Parents would be trained virtually with a curriculum developed by Evolution Foundation, OJA & OFN; and paid for their training time.

2). Hold a one-day virtual Child Welfare Summit for Minority Families, recruited from five DHS regions. Focus would be on special needs of Black, Hispanic & Native American families. $100 gift card to each attendee who completed session. Goal is 50 family members.

3). Conduct a one-day virtual Child Welfare Advocacy training for families who attended 1). & 2). above, focusing on navigational skills for the child protection system, legislative advocacy, social/educational issues advocacy, etc. $100 gift cards to each attendee who completes training. Goal is 50 family members.

4). Develop a Minority Family Peer-to-Peer virtual network consisting of families sourced in activities listed above. Chair and C0-Chair would be funded through the grant and picked up as Evolution Foundation family consultants after the grant ends.

Family Enhancement Center

Family Enhancement Center is located in Minnesota. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

Activity 1. FEC will engage 36 racially diverse persons who have been involved with child protection in Cook to Connect led by racially diverse staff. • Anticipate barriers to attendance and determine methods for transportation • Implement cooking activities for 4 weeks

Activity 2. Participants will increase their social connections and community resources while cooking together • FEC staff will present communication skills information • Staff will offer opportunities for women to share challenges and group support of resources, information and emotional support

Activity 3. Participants in Cook to Connect will have increased skills in self-advocacy and leadership through participation in the Cook to Connect class • Staff will present a curriculum that focuses on self-advocacy and leadership development • Participants will increase confidence and leadership through sharing a recipe with the group • Group and 1 to 1 sessions will explore participants journey into the child protection system, their beliefs about what was helpful and not, and factors that made their family vulnerable to child protection involvement • Group and 1 to 1 sessions will explore ways participants can continue to positively impact their communities in a leadership role

Kansas Children's Service League

Kansas Children’s Service League is located in Kansas. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

KCSL will host 40 Community Cafes across the state, reaching 250 individuals with lived experience including Black, Latino, and Indigenous youth and families. The Community Café is based on the World Café model which brings participants together around a common subject to explore questions and seek answers. The community café questions would reflect the University of Kansas community conversation questions. KCSL parent engagement coordinators would partner with parent leaders to reach out across the state in-person, virtually or hybrid. KCSL has many programs and partners that can be engaged to help recruit participants: Family First, early learning & home visitation programs, CBCAP, Kansas Serves Native American Families initiative, consumer groups representing the Department for Children and Families and the Department of Health and Environment as well as corrections, parole and probation populations in Sedgwick and Shawnee counties. The Kansas Youth Advisory Council, juvenile detention populations, KCSL Oasis, Truancy and CRE programs will reach a cross section of youth as well as TRiO programs, high schools and the Kansas Equality Coalition.

Kentucky Youth Advocates

Kentucky Youth Advocates is located in Kentucky. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

Co-designing the Truth Telling Circle (TTC), months 1-6: holding bi-weekly meetings between the KYA team, including foster care alumni, and the Counsel for Truth: Public Health Initiative (CTPHI) founders; actively preparing foster care alumni to lead activities; coordinating 4 meetings with broader community stakeholders; meeting with leaders of Louisville’s Beloved Community to learn from and support one another; designing the TTC core elements; and co-designing an evaluation process.

Co-designing and participating in the TTC Facilitator training, months 7-9: co-creating a training curriculum based on core elements, principles and values of truth-telling and reconciliation with the CTPHI founders; recruiting and training TTC facilitators; and revising the curriculum for future use. CTPHI founders will leverage other funds for a website and collateral materials to support these efforts. Launching Louisville’s TTC, months 10-12: recruiting the TTC participants; holding TTCs; developing a TTC facilitator learning community; establishing a support community for TTC participants; and using data to inform TTC improvements.

Nambe Pueblo Healthy Family Services

Nambe Pueblo Healthy Family Services is located in New Mexico. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

In months 1-6, we will co-design truth-telling circles (TTCs) that are healing, restorative and action-oriented. That includes: conducting community visioning sessions focused on equity and wellbeing; collaborating with our Wellness Center to convene, dialogue and plan truth and reconciliation efforts; convening in our traditional ways through music, art and play to engage youth and families in TTC planning; and engaging and supporting the emerging cohorts of youth, parent, family, and community leaders with lived experiences.

In months 7-9, we envision working with the CTPHI co-founders to develop a training curriculum on guiding TTCs that infuses our indigenous values, principles, ways of relating and trauma wisdom language and that builds on the lessons of months 1-6. TTC guides will be cultivated from our co-design activities and may include those from Nambe Pueblo and from NM’s Thriving Families. In months 10-12, we will launch TTCs in Nambe Pueblo, participate in the TTC learning community and use tribal evaluation strategies to understand the impacts of TTCs.

Our Sister Our Brother

Our Sister Our Brother is located in Arizona. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

In the child protection field, staff defense attorneys and judges often blur the lines of safety planning and case planning. Safety planning is the process identify the safety threat, when that threat is present and creating a plan so that the children are protected from the potential threat. Case planning outlines the services and or supports that could potentially help parents or caregivers build the skills necessary to reduce the risks and concerns in the home.

By utilizing existing policy and procedure to create safety plans to manage the identified danger threat to each child, safe environments can be created in order for families to remain together. Utilizing forensic social workers with specialized knowledge, skill and ability to apply the safety framework (SAFEAZ model) they could together with the family create a plan to ensure the children would be safe at all times. There are also existing bodies that are considered safe spaces for children including schools, daycare, extracurricular and after school programs. These places and activities would provide the majority of supervision for children in the event parents truly exhibit behaviors that create a safety threat to the children.

We anticipate there will be cases where there are a number of risks or concerns, however, the identified safety threat or threats may not truly meet the safety threshold criteria for present or impending danger. In these cases the social worker’s forensic evaluation of the family’s functioning could be used as supporting documentation to illustrate the need for specific services and support. These assessments by a forensic social worker could even highlight that removal from the home was preventable and illustrate that there is no current impending danger threat. This information could be utilized by the legal defense team to present as the assigned attorney deemed appropriate. We would also include a African American cultural community resource component to connect to faith and community based organizations who could assist with concrete needs, skill building and expanding important personal support networks of families. More importantly we to implement joint response to child welfare reports for African American families in order to help build trust and understanding between the Department of Child Safety and the community to reduce disproportionality. We will also include the voices of African American community members with lived experience to help guide increased collaboration on other initiatives.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork

Sasha Bruce Youthwork is located in Washington D.C. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

A critical component of Sasha Bruce’s work is the role participants play in shaping our programs. When a survey indicated that youth wanted even more involvement, we decided to start a Youth Advisory Board (YAB). The YAB will comprise ten young people ages 16-24 who have experience with our programs and are committed to strengthening them through feedback and recommendations. Members will engage in leadership development through training and advocacy, meet regularly with SBY staff and board members to discuss ongoing projects, provide feedback, and expand personal and professional networks through public speaking and networking opportunities. Grant funds would support the YAB’s pilot year. Our Career and College Readiness Director will dedicate 25% of their time as staff advisor and YAB liaison. We will hire as a Special Advisor Natalie White, a Social Work student at the University of the District of Columbia and a member of the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness’s YAB.

SouthWest Organizing Project

SouthWest Organizing Project is located in New Mexico. Here is what they will be supporting with their funding:

We will be hiring at least 20 young people this summer to continue our Youth Justice Summer internship.

This internship will focus on leadership development, building skills with our interns so they could begin to help lead our campaigns, and leading them through workshops that helped educate them about the justice system and community power building. A lot of this work also centered on healing and working through the traumas these young people have endured from being involved in the justice system. These interns will hopefully move into working with our other youth throughout the year to continue to help us create strategies and solutions for our campaign.

The Centers for Disease Control Joins Thriving Families, Safer Children


Read more about PCA America and Thriving Families, Safer Children

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

The U.S. Children’s Bureau, Casey Family Programs, the 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.

National Partnership to Reinvent Child Welfare Expands to Additional States; Now in 22 Locales

Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Well-Being has expanded its reach to include child welfare sites in 22 states that stretch from coast to coast and a sovereign tribal nation.

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