10 Years, 1,000 Kids: The 30 Days to Family® Story

This year we celebrate 10 years of our 30 Days to Family® program in the St. Louis area with a BIG milestone: we will soon reach 1,000 kids served!

30 Days to Family® helps place kids with relatives, significantly reducing their time in foster care and creating stable placements by weaving together a robust support system. This short intervention has a long-lasting impact on children’s lives: kids experience a lot less trauma and develop strong family connections that will last a lifetime.

Ten years have passed, and we are in awe of the incredible impact the 30 Days to Family® program has made in the lives of children entering foster care, their families, and the child welfare community in St. Louis and across the country.

To celebrate this decade, AND the exciting milestone of serving 1000 kids in the St. Louis area, we will take a trip down memory lane, recounting 30 Days to Family® history, highlighting the team’s immeasurable impact through the years, and circling back to a few of the stories from our 30 Days to Family® specialists’ first few cases.

For now, we’ll jump right into how it all started…

For years, much of the focus of Coalition programs had been finding families for kids after they had lingered in foster care for a while. Through the Extreme Recruitment® program, our staff became exceptionally skilled at family search and engagement, finding an incredible number of placement options and supports within the children’s relative and kinship network. Until one day we asked ourselves: what if we didn’t wait to intervene until kids desperately needed a family? We could use the same principles to find families for kids before they had to wait in the system for months or even years. And thus, 30 Days to Family® was born in March of 2011– building on the success of Extreme Recruitment® – to work with kids as soon as they enter foster care, to get them to family as quickly as possible.

The Coalition’s Executive Director, Melanie Scheetz, inspired the initial vision for 30 Days to Family®, which was further developed into a program by Melanie Moredock, the Coalition’s first 30 Days to Family® program director and now Director of Program Replication at the Institute for Child Welfare Innovation. It is essential to highlight that none of this would have been possible without the generous support of Christopher Reid and Jennifer DeLaney, the very first 30 Days to Family® investors.

After Mr. Reid served on the Coalition’s Board of Directors for six years, he and Jennifer felt compelled to leave a legacy for children impacted by foster care by supporting an innovative, groundbreaking intervention that would significantly transform kids’ future. Their seed funding made it possible to hire the first 30 Days to Family® staff member, Melanie Moredock, and start the program in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. Since then, our in-house team has grown to a unit of six and–with the support from other funders including the United Way of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund, The Mental Health Board, the Community & Children’s Resource Board, an anonymous foundation, and hundreds of small gifts from individuals–the program has expanded to serve St. Charles and Jefferson Counties.  

Thanks to the support from the Children’s Service Fund opportunity fund and an anonymous funder, Policy Works, a think tank in Virginia, carried out a rigorous, independent study of the 30 Days to Family® program. The results were astounding! This evaluation tested the program’s theory of change, confirming that children served by 30 Days to Family® do better through improved caregiver connections and community involvement, relieves stress on caregivers due to increased supports, and even saves taxpayer dollars to the tune of more than $10,000 per child. The full findings of this independent study were published in the Child Welfare Journal in October 2019. A follow-up study of our replication sites has been completed and cost savings were sustained in 15 counties across Ohio. Findings will be published in early 2021.

As of February 2021, 30 Days to Family® has been rated in the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC). This means the program is scientifically rated as Promising Research Evidence and given a High Child Welfare System Relevance Level.

It didn’t take long for 30 Days to Family® to garner national attention! This intervention has been replicated in Ohio, Virginia, Oregon, and other States. The number of agencies across the country interested in replicating the 30 Days to Family® program grew, and the Coalition sought a solution to preserve our mission to serve children and families in the Saint Louis area. As a result, on December 2019, the Institute for Child Welfare Innovation was created to take on the efforts of training, scaling, and replicating the Coalition’s 30 Days to Family® Program.

In St. Louis, our talented 30 Days to Family Specialists continue placing kids with relatives/kin, and connecting kids with family and life-long resources to help them thrive. Day in and day out, our Specialists find an average of 150 relatives per case, and overcome seemingly impossible material and emotional barriers to make sure kids go to the best family to love, protect, and nurture them amidst the profound trauma they’ve experienced.

In the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing some of our kid’s stories highlighting the power of family and robust support in creating placement stability. Stay tuned!

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