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Family Builders Pilot Project (March 2000, Report No. 00-4)

 
 

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 conclusions:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  1. 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.

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