Thriving Families, Safer Children (TFSC) is a first-of-its-kind effort of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Prevent Child Abuse America, and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. The partnership is working in 22 sites, including Kentucky, from coast to coast and a sovereign tribal nation. The Thriving Families effort seeks to demonstrate that intentional, coordinated investment in a full continuum of prevention and robust community-based networks of support will promote overall child and family well-being, equity, and other positive outcomes for children and families. 

In Kentucky, Thriving Families, Safer Children is a collaborative movement working to lift up the voices of community and local experts with lived expertise in child welfare and other systems to co-create a new way forward. 

The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services submitted a Letter of Intent to be a Thriving Families, Safer Children site identifying the following goals as a focus of the work: 

  • Development of a robust network of community-based prevention supports   
  • Creation of formalized structures to serve families “screened out” by DCBS 
  • Clearly differentiating poverty and neglect   
  • Development of a statewide collaborative primary/secondary prevention plan  
  • Creation of a Parent Advisory Council    

So, what does that look like? 

Realizing the importance of this work, various stakeholders across Kentucky partnered with DCBS to commit to both identifying action and following through on execution. Aligning action with the vision for TFSC is essential for its success. All the goals identified will be guided by a racial equity framework. Below are brief summaries of some of the work that is happening around this focus.   

Building Community Well-Being
As a Family Support Through Primary Prevention (FSPP) Demonstration Site, Brighton Center, Department for Community Based Services, Family Nurturing Center, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago have partnered to develop the Building Community Well-Being Among Families Project, co-designed with families with lived experience. The vision is to develop a comprehensive child and family well-being system, building off of the Thriving Families, Safer Children initiative, to better address social determinants of health and improve individual and family protective factors. This five-year Project region includes three counties of Northern Kentucky (Campbell, Kenton, Boone) and will be formally evaluated by Chapin Hall. 

Lean on Me Kentucky
Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, in conjunction with the Department for Community Based Services, is pleased to announce the impending launch of Lean on Me KY in the coming months. This movement, modeled after Lean on Me Arizona, seeks to help ALL community members understand their role in supporting families through resources and support prior to making a report of abuse or neglect, while simultaneously not losing sight of our duty to protect children. Every person has the power to make a difference in the life of a child or family, and Lean on Me KY helps this vision become a reality through videos, a toolkit, and other materials. 

Truth and Reconciliation 
Kentucky Youth Advocates, in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse America, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and community partners, will codesign a Truth Telling Circle (TTC) alongside foster care alumni, the Counsel for Truth: Public Health Initiative, and Louisville’s Beloved Community. Upon the launch of Louisville’s TTC, Kentucky Youth Advocates will develop a facilitator learning community, recruit and support participants, and analyze impact to inform improvements. The goal of the project is to activate young adults with foster care experience to lead the development of opportunities to engage in truth telling practices and shape a new narrative around rightsizing concepts of safety and protection with those of child and family well-being, justice, and belonging. 

Community Action Plans for Prevention
Each of the nine DCBS regions including stakeholders, community members, and those with lived experience will participate in the creation and execution of community-focused child abuse and neglect prevention action plans. In this collaborative process, the community will have opportunities to provide feedback on the identified goals for child abuse and neglect prevention.  

Birth Parent Council 
The Birth Parent Advisory Council includes parents who have had a wide range of involvement with the child welfare system. The role of this group is to serve as partners and provide guidance to Kentucky’s child welfare system; including policymakers, service providers, community workers, and the leading child welfare agency. It is designed to ensure strong parent voices have a seat at the table when important decisions are made to shape programs, policies, and practices resulting in better outcomes for children, families, and communities. 

The Thriving Families Safer Children work will result in community well-being the way we know provides long-lasting success: communities coming together to be accountable for their own needs.  

With strengthened supports for parents, children, and families, common stressors and barriers to health and safety will either be minimized or entirely eliminated. Children will be less likely to experience abuse or neglect. Communities will be better connected and aligned around how to support families. And those who work in agencies or organizations across the Commonwealth will be better equipped to provide equitable and high-quality services for all families.   

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