Cuyahoga Partnering for Family Success Program

The Problem

In Cuyahoga County, OH, many children placed in out-of-home foster care cannot be reunited with their families because their caregivers are experiencing problems such as homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental illness. As a result, these children—two-thirds of whom are under the age of 6—spend more time in out-of-home foster care. Extended time in foster care has negative outcomes for families and children and is costly for the County.

The Basics

Location: Cuyahoga County, OH

Policy areas: Homelessness and child welfare

Population served: 135 randomly-selected homeless families with children currently in the Department of Children and Family Services temporary out-of-home placement

Service providers: Frontline Service and multiple housing providers

Size of investment: $4 million

Maximum success payments possible: $5 million

Investors: Reinvestment Fund ($1.6 million senior loan), The George Gund Foundation ($1 million junior loan), The Cleveland Foundation ($750,000 junior loan), Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland ($350,000 mix of recoverable grant and junior loan), Nonprofit Finance Fund ($325,000 junior loan)

Intermediary: Cuyahoga PFS, LLC, an affiliated entity of Enterprise Community Partners (project manager and fiscal agent)

Other partner: Third Sector Capital Partners (transaction coordinator and government advisor)

Evaluator: Case Western Reserve University

Evaluation methodology: Randomized control trial

Outcome payor: Cuyahoga County, OH

Outcome that yields payments: Out-of-home foster care placement days avoided

Timeframe: 4 year service delivery term; 5 year repayment term and evaluation period

Project start: January 2015

Photo via Shutterstock.

The Intervention

Intervention: FrontLine Services links each homeless caregiver to housing, and then provides Critical Time Intervention (CTI). CTI is a time-limited case management model for assisting vulnerable populations through major life transitions. The model has four main phases: the Engagement phase, the Transition to Community phase, the Try-Out phase, and the Transfer of Care phase. CTI is provided to clients for nine to 12 months, within a homeless or domestic violence shelter, the client's temporary housing environment, and the client's permanent housing environment. CTI paired with trauma services to strengthen caregiver-child relationships. The goal of these services is to stabilize the family's home environment to facilitate successful reunification. 

Evidence base behind the intervention: Two randomized control trials, considered high-quality by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, show positive outcomes in reducing homelessness, and one of the two shows positive outcomes for reducing psychiatric hospitalization. Both RCTs demonstrate that the program can be cost-beneficial. A 2007 quasi-experimental study of a modified version of CTI shows positive outcomes for housing and mental health.

The effectiveness of the intervention had been evaluated for a  population with some similarities to the target population, and the service provider had provided parts of this intervention previously.