Changing Child Welfare

The Coalition has emerged as a national leader in foster care reform. Our programs offer the way forward for an overwhelmed child welfare system.

At the Coalition, we do whatever it takes to find safe and healing homes for children in the foster care system. And we’re not afraid to challenge the status quo along the way.

We find new ways to build resilience in our families and create stability in our children’s chaotic lives. We model transparency and accountability, setting the standard for data-driven solutions to complex problems. We inspire other agencies to reach higher in service to children in foster care; our innovative programs are currently being replicated at more than 20 other agencies around the country as they seek to reproduce our unmatched outcomes.

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Change Child Welfare

Founded in 1989, the Coalition has emerged as an innovative national leader in foster care reform.

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Innovation: Placing Kids with Relatives in 30 Days

It is the simple, disheartening equation in foster care: the longer children stay in State care separated from family members, the worse their outcomes are for the future. The average stay in foster care for Missouri children is two years. That’s why we developed the 30 Days to Family® program in 2010. Our staff members start by building an exhaustive genealogical tree to identify as many potential family placement options as possible. Once a safe, appropriate family member is identified, our team works tirelessly to place the child within 30 days.

The 30 Days to Family program means reduced trauma, increased stability, preserved family connections and less time in foster care. But don’t just take our word for it – we commissioned a rigorous, independent study that proved our theory of change. The 30 Days to Family program has been so successful that it is being replicated across the country by more than 20 other child welfare agencies.

Innovation: Providing Two Years of Ongoing Support for New Foster Families

Foster parent burnout is a glaring national problem. After only one year, 60% of foster parents in America “drop out.” That means more instability for children who have already gone through enormous trauma. To tackle the problem of foster parent burnout, we developed The Dennis and Judy Jones Family Foundation Foster Care & Adoption Program. Compared to the national average of 40%, our program has a retention rate of 97% for new foster parents. We follow the family for two years, providing “20 touches,” each of which is an opportunity to share experience, compassion, and the latest research. Throughout this time, we help foster parents create a strong family dynamic, recognizing what our children are capable of and equipping them with skills to care for our kids in the best way.

Innovation: Hiring Private Investigators to Help Locate Family Members of Youth in Foster Care

When a child enters foster care, the first step is often to contact their relatives to identify placement options. Originally, we tried to do the investigation work ourselves, but our contact rate was a dismal 23%. Within two weeks of hiring a private investigator, our family contact rate skyrocketed to 80%. Our investigators find relatives through internet tools, court databases, social media searches, and old-fashioned detective work. This is the added ingredient that makes our Extreme Recruitment® program so effective.

Innovation: Partnering with Local News Channel, 5 On Your Side, to Feature Kids Waiting for Adoption

In 2001, the first television segment of “A Place to Call Home” aired on 5 On Your Side. The program, featuring children waiting for adoption, has since blossomed into an incredible 20+ year collaboration between the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition and the local NBC-affiliated St. Louis television station. More than 464 children have found their forever homes after being featured on the Emmy-nominated “A Place to Call Home.”

Innovation: Getting Kids Out of Residential Care

Too often, children in foster care are placed in institutional or residential care because there is not a skilled foster parent available. Institutionalizing children exacerbates trauma, sabotages school performance, stagnates emotional and intellectual development, and costs between 7 to 10 times more than placing a child with foster family.

Children in residential care also face a greater likelihood of “aging out.” When youth age out of foster care without a family, they are deprived of their childhood and face a bleak future. Nearly 40% experience homelessness, 71% of girls become pregnant before the age of 21, 74% of males experience incarceration, and over 50% are unemployed at age 25.

Building on years of innovation, we know how to fix this broken system. Through our Project SOAR program, we are on a mission to eliminate institutional/residential care as we know it.

Project SOAR takes a six-step approach to getting kids out of residential care:

  1. Connect institutionalized youth with a safe, appropriate adult—preferably a relative/kin—who will make a lifelong commitment to the child
  2. Obtain critical mental health supports that have remained out of reach for these youth
  3. Provide effective, meaningful therapeutic services to institutionalized youth based on the latest research
  4. Establish an educational plan that will help the child successfully transition from a residential campus-based school to a neighborhood school
  5. Find a community treatment foster home placement with extensive supports
  6. Pressure the child welfare team to release the child from the institution

Innovation: Hiring Educational Advocates for Foster Youth

Educational Advocacy

Innovation: 24/7 Help for Stressed Out Parents and Families in Crisis

Family Works

Helping Families Navigate Complex Systems?

Comprehensive Systems Navigation

Probably Our most confusing program

Innovation: License More African American Foster Families


Innovation: Birthday Presents for Children in Foster Care

Birthday Buddies

Innovation: Holiday Gifts for Children in Foster Care

Little Wishes

Innovation: Clothing for Children in Foster Care

ReSource & ReFresh