Child Protective Services Reintegration Project: Permanency Outcomes for Youth with Complex Mental Health Needs

Project Overview

Consistent with the research on successful reunification practices, the CPS Reintegration Project provides an extensive network of wraparound services and supports to caregivers of youth who are in the foster care system, have at least one DSM-IV diagnosis, and are attempting to reintegrate into their homes and communities.

The CPS Reintegration Project is a partnership among Casey Family Programs, Travis County Health and Human Services and Texas Child Protective Services. The School of Social Work at the University of Texas-Austin is a partner with Casey Family Programs in the evaluation of this project.

Promoting Permanency Video

Promoting Permanency
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This 14-minute video helps raise awareness about the importance of permanency for all youth who have experienced the foster care system – especially those with complex mental and behavioral needs. It features the stories of three families who were successfully reunited through the Child Protective Services Reintegration Pilot Project.

Discussion Guide

The video comes complete with a discussion guide for facilitators to stimulate critical thinking and discussion about ways to improve permanency outcomes among a variety of audiences, including:

  • child welfare staff and administrators
  • members of the legal community
  • mental health professionals
  • residential treatment providers
  • students of social work

These discussions are germane in every community, regardless of whether it can implement the CPS Reintegration Project or is considering another permanency practice model.

Phase I Evaluation Report

by Elissa E. Madden, Ruth G. McRoy, Erin Maher and Kristin Ward

Out of group homes, into families

This report documents the successes and challenges of moving children with complex mental and behavioral needs out of group homes or residential treatment centers and back to their families and communities.

Research partners

The research, which evaluates a reintegration pilot program in Travis County, Texas, was conducted jointly by Casey Family Programs and the School of Social Work at the University of Texas-Austin. The project itself is a partnership of Casey Family Programs, Travis County Health and Human Services and Veterans Service (HHS&VS), and Texas Child Protective Services (CPS).

Participant experiences, successes and challenges

The evaluation offers insights into the experiences of children, families and staff with this innovative reunification program, which utilizes wraparound services. In addition to documenting some of the program’s early successes, the evaluation also uncovered barriers to reunification at the system, program, and case levels. Identification of these barriers can be used to advocate for system change and to improve program practice.  The family narratives contained in this report provide a compelling impetus to seek such change.

Ongoing follow up

Casey Family Programs continues to track the children enrolled in this program to understand their long-term trajectory following participation, as well as to analyze the costs and savings associated with the program.

Safely reducing the number of children in foster care

We hope that this report will contribute to the awareness and understanding of safe and successful reunification and promote replication of a promising program model. Successfully reunifying children with their families is a critical strategy for realizing Casey Family Programs’ 2020 Strategy, which aims to safely reduce the number of children in care by 50 percent by the year 2020.

Phase II Evaluation Report

Permanency Outcomes for Youth with Complex Mental Health Needs Served by the Child Protective Services Reintegration Project in Travis County, Texas

This report evaluates permanency outcomes for youth served by the Child Protective Services Reintegration Project in Travis County, Texas. The project attempts to reintegrate difficult-to-place youth back into the community in a family setting. The report concludes that this intensive and innovative intervention is showing evidence of success at helping youth with complex mental and behavioral disorders who otherwise may not have an opportunity to achieve permanency.

The reunification success rate for youth in this project parallels or betters that for youth in the foster care system overall. These findings demonstrate that with the appropriate combination, intensity and duration of services, youth who otherwise would face significant barriers in achieving reunification and likely age out of foster care in institutional settings may be able to live with their families in the community.

Report cover
Phase II: Executive Summary
Phase II: Full ReportPhase I: Executive SummaryPhase I: Full ReportVideo Discussion Guide