Initiated in 1998, the Family Builders Pilot
Program provides services to families in Maricopa and Pima Counties who have
received a potential or low-risk report of neglect or abuse from DES—Child
Protective Services. The pilot program’s objectives are to increase children’s
safety and to improve parenting competence. In this, the first evaluation, we
found that the program suffers from insufficient, incomplete, and inaccurate
information, so it is not yet clear whether the program is effective.
In this report, we present three general
At this time, the impact program’s impact is unknown. For
unexplained reasons, two-thirds of those referred to Family Builders refused
any services. Furthermore, families participating in the program were just
as likely to have a new CPS report after entering the program as two similar
groups of families not participating in the program. On a more positive
note, caseworker assessments indicate that the risk of child maltreatment
among participants decreased slightly.
DES currently lacks the necessary information to determine
if providers are delivering adequate services and are being paid at
appropriate rates. We recommend that DES examine costs and number of
services delivered. In an in-depth review of 80 randomly selected cases,
three areas of concern were uncovered:
First, providers did not accurately report information
regarding the type, number, or cost of services to DES.
Second, the average cost for services was $1,700 less than
the amount paid for services.
Finally, 42 percent of the services identified as needed
for families were not provided.
DES needs to improve program oversight to ensure that all
program requirements are met, such as collecting and updating
information about participants and the services they receive.