Neighbor To Family: Supporting Sibling Groups in Foster Care: Formative and Efficacy Evaluation.
University of Colorado at Denver.
This paper summarizes research on approaches to providing services for sibling groups in foster care. The Neighbor To Family (NTF) program focuses on three innovations for providing foster care and preparing sibling groups for permanency and the future. NTF has developed strategies for keeping sibling groups together in foster care using professional caregivers instead of traditional foster parents and a team based approach to overall care with includes the family, kin and caregivers as equal partners in the team. This paper reports a formative study that clarified the NTF service practice model and two efficacy studies comparing the Neighbor To Family program to other approaches to foster care. Neighbor To Family is a clinically enhanced version of Neighbor to Neighbor, which were both established and developed by Gordon Johnson. The first study reports a small pilot project in Volusia County Florida through which a formative evaluation refined the NTN process and an efficacy evaluation found significant impact on several key indicators for child welfare compared to other forms of traditional case management and foster care. The second study was a matched comparison study of the enhanced NTF model with traditional case management in four counties in central Georgia. The outcomes for 417 children in foster care receiving the enhanced NTF service were compared to a matched group of 417 children receiving traditional foster care services in four counties around Atlanta Georgia (i.e., DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Clayton). A separate process evaluation demonstrated fidelity to the NTF model for the study group. The reported efficacy evaluation showed significant improvement in placement within county, placement with siblings, stability of placement, safety during and after foster care, rate of reunification and time and type of permanent placement for the children receiving NTF services compared to the children who received other forms of foster care. The studies are discussed in terms of their implications for foster care practice and the need for future research. (Author abstract)
siblings; sibling relationships; foster care; foster children; preserving connections; program evaluations; studies; sibling visits