Children and families thrive when they receive the supports they need in their families and communities. Supporting families and addressing the root causes contributing to child welfare involvement requires strategic cross-sector partnerships that prioritize the voices and needs of communities and families. By collaborating with other agencies and sectors — including behavioral health, Medicaid, public health, education, and social service systems — child welfare agencies can help meet the upstream needs of children and families and prevent child welfare involvement, including foster care placement.

The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), with support from Casey Family Programs, interviewed stakeholders across four state agencies and one tribe — California, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona — to better understand opportunities for cross-sector collaboration to meet families’ needs, support community and family well-being, and prevent foster care placement. This brief outlines six critical strategies that support family well-being and prevent child welfare involvement, as well as examples that illustrate how they are being implemented.

See also a companion set of profiles featuring the interviewed states and tribe. The profiles offer a detailed look into their cross-sector partnerships to prevent child welfare and foster care involvement, including background and structure, key initiatives, and efforts to embed meaningful family engagement in their work.

  • California — Several agencies collaborate to focus on child welfare prevention efforts, with one key initiative focused on supporting children and youth behavioral health.
  • Kentucky — Stakeholders across child-serving agencies strive for alignment at the state and local levels on prevention-focused efforts through key initiatives and community engagement efforts.
  • New Jersey — Guided by a strategic plan, New Jersey’s child welfare department collaborates with health, labor, education, and human service sectors to better serve children and families.
  • Ohio — Several initiatives across the state support the prevention of child welfare involvement through collaborations with state agencies, the federal government, and county agencies.