Casey Foundation Closes Foster Family Services, Opens New Grants

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A branch of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that cares for foster children and families is closing its offices nationwide and instead channeling $18 to $20 million in new grants to their child welfare mission.

Casey Family Services contracts with seven states to provide foster care services to approximately 400 children, and also has satellite offices in five other states.

Casey Family Services“Casey provided a lot of training to foster, adoptive and kin families. That’s how we’re going to feel it in this area,” said Nicole O’Roak, kinship support specialist at Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine near Bangor, which supports families after fostering or adoption. “They really specialize in working with high-needs foster children.”

Bangor knows CFS as “solid,” added O’Roak, “they have money and expertise.”

In about a year though, CFS will be gone, replaced with $18 to $20 million in annual grants for foster family service providers.

“We’re trying to reach more children across the country,” said AEC Communications Director Norris West. “With this model we’ll be able to achieve scale,” he added.

The grants will focus on propagating best practices, like the counseling for high-needs families in Bangor, to independent organizations.

West doesn’t predict grants to start happening for at least one year. “We’re going to be doing two things at once: winding down CFS while building the infrastructure for grant-making.”

The timeline is on O’Roak’s mind too. “At this point I’m just wondering how the transition is going to look,” she said. “That is a concern for sure.  How are these families going to transition?  How are we going to feel it as far as the training and support that the families were given?”

CFS, founded in 1976, plans to transition most of their clients to other providers by the end of this year, though they will stay open until June 2013 to finish all the moves.

“We’re losing a quality provider of foster care treatment, so that’s disappointing,” Therese Cahill-Low, Maine’s director of Child and Family Services, said via e-mail. Casey provides contracted services for about 90 of Maine’s 1,600 kids in foster care. “For the children, it’s going to be a transition, and that’s hard because these kids have already been through a lot,” she said.

The foundation’s New Haven, Conn. headquarters will close and 280 employees will lose jobs. Grant-making will be handled in AEC headquarters in Baltimore.

In a press release AEC said, "We are providing the 280 employees affected by this decision with resources and support as they pursue new employment, further education or retirement."

Photo courtesy of Casey Family Services.

Editor's Note Correction: The year of Casey Family Services' founding was incorrectly reported on June 28. It was founded in 1976. And the $1.6 billion in spending on foster child care and child welfare is the sum from Casey Family Programs.