familyAll children need safe and nurturing caregivers to thrive, but some parents struggle to effectively care for their children. For families at risk of child abuse and neglect, family preservation and diversion services are offered to work with caregivers to alleviate issues in a home and promote a safe environment for the child. Diversion programs are utilized when adolescents are at risk of removal in order to stabilize the family system with the goal of diverting children from being placed outside the home in foster care or residential treatment centers. At times, families need guidance on the use of effective tools, like parenting and coping skills, before problems escalate and potentially lead to an unsafe environment for children. When appropriate for a family, these services keep kids from experiencing the trauma of removal.

In Kentucky, family preservation programs have proven effective at helping families create a safe home environment for their children, while also saving money by avoiding the cost of removing the child from their home.

KVC Kentucky provides family preservation and reunification services throughout the Commonwealth to help keep families safely together. Below is the story of just one of the many families they served to ensure children remained safely in their home with their family.

A Diversion Specialist received a case in which long term adoptive parents were considering giving up custody of their child due to his behaviors. This child had a very long history of trauma, including sexual abuse prior to his adoptive placement. The Diversion Specialist was able to utilize evidence-informed therapy specifically for trauma with the child and create a “trauma narrative,” which is a technique used with individuals to help them organize and manage their thoughts and feelings by documenting their story to help aid in their treatment. KVC worked with the parents on increasing their understanding of trauma and safety planning for this child. KVC was able to utilize the available flexible funding to purchase tools to aid in the child’s use of learned coping skills. When the child read his trauma narrative, it was an emotional experience and very positive for all involved. The family reported a significant decrease in challenging behaviors and a better understanding of the effects of trauma. At our last contact with the family, one year after discharge from Diversion services, the child maintained placement in the home.

The story above demonstrates how effective family preservation programs can be at ensuring children remain safely in their home and avoid the trauma of removal.

As budget decisions are made during this legislative session, we should prioritize keeping families safely together by ensuring access to high-quality family preservation services. See where the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children stands on the issue here.