Site Visit Report: Next Steps Program of Rockland County, New York
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Published: May 2011
This site report discusses the activities and accomplishments of a program designed to help low-income mothers in Rockland County, New York. The Next Steps program is a 5-day-per-week, 6-month program for mothers receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits who have very young children. The project seeks to integrate core services and components of best practices from both TANF and child welfare practice models, and aims to improve child safety and increase family stability and self-sufficiency. Each participant works with the Next Steps Coordinator to develop goals in five primary areas: academics, employment readiness, computer skills, behavioral therapy, and parenting. A 2006 federal grant from the Children's Bureau expanded the Next Steps program to include child welfare services and improve child safety, father involvement and family stability, and self-sufficiency. At the time of the site visit in July 2010, the Next Steps program had served 35 mothers and their children. While formal evaluation of the program outcomes is currently underway, anecdotal evidence from staff points to positive findings. Staff noted they receive three or four phone calls each week from former participants who want to connect or ask for advice or support. In informal discussions, participants have listed the benefits that Next Steps has provided, including increased support and confidence, knowledge of child development and parenting, and a collaborative culture with the opportunity to make their voice heard. Unique and innovative features of the Next Steps program are described, as well as challenges the program has faced and successful strategies that have been used.
TANF; Parenting skills; Parent education; Job training; Vocational training