​Sacramento County is reaching across departments and connecting with public agencies and partners to build a network of support and services to create interagency collaboration that will work to improve outcomes for children and their families in the child welfare system.

On November 10, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors was presented with the body of evidence supporting the interagency collaboration model for the benefit of the County’s children.

“Collaborative approaches to best serve children and families prove to be the most effective in achieving the outcomes we all want; safety, permanency and well-being.” Phil Serna, Chairman of the Board said.

Recognizing that to be truly effective in engaging those whose needs overlap systems of care, Sacramento County brought together the Department of Health and Human Services (Child Protective Services, Behavioral Health Services and Public Health Divisions), the Department of Probation, and the Department of Human Assistance to work with the Sacramento County Office of Education; the Juvenile Dependency and Delinquency Courts; Law Enforcement; and the District Attorney’s Office.

Dr. Sherri Z. Heller, Director of Health and Human Services said, “We are proud to call our child welfare initiative – Children and Families Together. We’ve received great responses from the community to the name. Some people still think the primary task of CPS and the Juvenile Probation Department is breaking up families; actually, we know that outcomes for our children are best when they’re raised by families. Our new initiative is aimed at strengthening families’ capacity to raise their children safely.”

Sacramento County is using public and private partnerships and the flexible funds from the Children and Families Together project (Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration) to reduce out-of-home placements, intervene early using a multidisciplinary approach, engage youth and families in effective, community-based services and decrease recidivism.

The County is using these funds to support prevention efforts which are family oriented and outcome-focused; aiming at reducing foster care entries, or for after-care services to ensure stable and safe reunification, or for finding family to secure permanency for these children. This year, Child Protective Services contracted with two community-based agencies, Lilliput Children’s Services and Sierra Forever Families to assist with permanency-related services. The Sacramento County Probation Department is contracting with River Oak Center for Children and Stanford Youth Solutions to provide community-based wraparound services to youth and their families at home.

Sacramento County agencies are also collaborating to serve Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and youth who need services from probation and the child welfare systems. A CSEC Interagency Steering Committee has been formed that consists of a multidisciplinary team to conduct needs assessment for each youth and makes recommendations to the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento County Juvenile Court. These collaborations between departments and other agencies strengthen cross-system practices and help to show the various services available from each entity to serve all the needs of these children and their families.

“As with most things in life, rarely do we arrive at our destination by traveling a single road. Children who are in need of welfare services often have experienced a chaotic and bumpy road along the way and need support from a multitude of sources,” said Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale.

Sacramento County agencies are building a network of support that will facilitate early treatment, early intervention, reduced out-of-home placements, and allow children and youth to remain in their communities and schools. These efforts include the increase of youth and family participation in decision-making and case-planning, as well as supporting parents in acquiring skills and changing behavior patterns with the goal of increasing family stability, child-parent bonding and building communication skills.