Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CSSP's Protective Factors and the Child Welfare-Early Education Partnerships Grant Opportunity

The Administration for Children and Families (ACYF) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the availability of funding for: Child Welfare – Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children with Child Welfare Involvement. In an effort to improve the well-being of infants and young children (birth thru age 5) that are currently involved in or at risk of entering the child welfare system, this initiative will fund projects that build collaboration between state, local or tribal child welfare agencies and early childhood education systems.

According to the Notice released by ACYF, infants are currently more likely to enter the child welfare system than ever before. Research, which is cited within the Notice, increasingly suggests that traumatic experiences in early childhood can negatively impact future behavior, as well as physical, emotional and mental health. Recognizing that young children currently in or at risk of entering the child welfare system are more likely to have experienced trauma, it is critical that these children and their families have access to services and opportunities that will promote their optimal development. As described in the Notice, the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s (CSSP) Strengthening Families initiative strives to help child welfare and early education systems build protective factors – five research-based factors that, when present in a family or a program, can reduce the risk of abuse and/or neglect and promote optimal child development.

The Child Welfare – Early Education Partnerships opportunity reflects ACYF’s shifting focus to improving child and family well-being, and the Strengthening Families protective factors are considered a core component of this frame. This particular grant opportunity aims to ensure that children who are in or at risk of entering the child welfare system have access to comprehensive, quality early education programs by building collaboration between these two systems. Strong partnerships between child welfare and early childhood education systems will foster opportunities to exchange important knowledge, improve system functioning and provide opportunities for both systems to effectively weave the protective factors into their work. This type of collaboration and partnership is crucial not only for the families and children involved in the child welfare system, but for an entire community. Building protective factors into education systems and bridging knowledge and experiences between community-based organizations can ultimately improve the quality of services individuals receive and impact the well-being of children and families in the community.

Project proposals for the Child Welfare – Early Education Partnerships opportunity may replicate existing models of collaborative practice or propose new models that will address the emotional, behavioral and educational well-being of children in care. Eligible applicants include: state, local and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. According to the Notice, HHS anticipates making 10 awards worth $250,000 - $2.5 million. Applications are due June 11.

For more information, including detailed guidance on the application process and a comprehensive review of early childhood development research, please click here.

Other Resources: 
The Protective Factors Framework, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Allied for Better Outcomes: Child Welfare and Early Childhood, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Strengthening Families as a Platform for Collaboration, Center for the Study of Social Policy
A Call to Action on Behalf of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers, American Humane Association, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, ZERO TO THREE

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