connect Winner / 2021

Improving the Well-Being of LA’s Children and Youth in Foster Care

Improving the Well-Being of LA’s Children and Youth in Foster Care

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Children Now

The Family Urgent Response System (FURS) will change the course for Los Angeles (LA) County’s children and youth currently and formerly in foster care by helping them experience stability in nurturing family homes, strengthening trust and relationships between children and their caregivers, and preventing the inappropriate criminalization of traumatized children and youth.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

When children and youth enter foster care, they have already experienced abuse and neglect, loss, and disrupted relationships. To heal from this trauma, they need stable placements in family homes where they can develop supportive, consistent, and loving relationships with caregivers. However, efforts by caregivers and youth to build strong relationships can quickly derail when they cannot access community-based, trauma-informed supports at the critical moments they need them. Without immediate supports and services, even minor miscommunications and frustrations can intensify and have detrimental results, leaving youth feeling further traumatized and possibly facing another placement change, hospitalization, or institutionalization. Even worse, in many circumstances, caregivers call the police because they lack other, more appropriate options for immediate help, leading to the inappropriate criminalization of traumatized children.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

On March 1, 2021, the Family Urgent Response System (FURS) launched, an innovative new program developed to provide immediate trauma-informed support to children and youth currently or formerly in foster care and their caregivers in California. This cross-sector state and local response system, consisting of a 24/7 statewide hotline and county mobile response systems, is designed to provide early in-home support to children, youth, and families to prevent and address instability. While FURS is now operational, much work remains to be done to ensure its effective implementation in Los Angeles County – where there are 22,000 children and youth currently in foster care (which is more than a third of all children and youth in care in California) – to meet the needs of children and youth currently or formerly in foster care and their caregivers. For instance, barriers and challenges often become apparent after the launch of large-scale programs such as FURS. Therefore, real-time feedback between the field, the county, and the state will be critical to identifying and resolving FURS implementation issues before they take hold. Meaningful engagement of and input from youth and caregivers throughout the implementation process will also be integral to ensuring FURS’ overall effectiveness.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

50
Direct impact
21,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Placement stability is critical to the well-being of children and youth in foster care, yet it remains elusive for far too many. Close to a quarter of Los Angeles County’s children still in foster care at 24 months have experienced three or more moves (https://ccwip.berkeley.edu/childwelfare/reports/PlacementStability/MTMG/r/fcp/s). Placement changes cause children in foster care additional trauma and make it more difficult for them to develop healing relationships and establish trust in subsequent caregivers. FURS will help improve outcomes for LA County’s children and youth currently or formerly in foster care by promoting healing; preventing moves, psychiatric hospitalizations, and re-entries into foster care; and reducing the inappropriate criminalization of traumatized children, especially children and youth of color who are disproportionately negatively impacted by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

In this early-stage program, Children Now will define success by the extent of the outreach to children and youth currently and formerly in foster care, caregivers, and other child welfare stakeholders to make them aware of this new program and their engagement in providing feedback on FURS, including needed improvements. We will measure our success by the following metrics: • The number of children and youth formerly and currently in foster care and caregivers in LA County that are informed about this new program. • The number of children and youth currently and formerly in foster care and caregivers in LA County that provide feedback on FURS, including needed improvements. • The number of child welfare stakeholders, such as providers, made aware of FURS and provided with technical assistance to address FURS implementation issues and share best practices to support children, youth, and caregivers. • The number of improvements elevated to the county and state for action.

Which of the connect metrics will you impact?​

  • Social and emotional support

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE