Fostering Futures: Child welfare system integration

Building a trauma-informed child welfare system statewide

Full Project Name:Fostering Futures: Transforming child welfare policies/practices through trauma-informed principlesPrimary Community Organization:Set Ministry, IncPrimary Academic Partner:Lynn Sheets, MD, PediatricsAward Amount:$326,619
Award Date
January2016
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:


Childhood toxic stress is shown to impact both the short- and long-term social, emotional and health effects of children today and into their future. To improve child and family health and well-being within the population served by Wisconsin's child welfare system, Fostering Futures and its partners will work statewide to integrate trauma-informed care principles into the child welfare systems at the state, tribal and county levels. Project partners will work with an estimated 785 Child Protective Services workers to transform their practices to improve the safety and well-being for approximately 23,000 children and their families touched by these workers each year.

Community partners:
Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker, Fostering Hope Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Wisconsin Office of Children's Mental Health, Children's Hospital and Health System, Casey Family Programs (CFP), Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH), Wilder Research

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Fostering Future partners had had 270 capacity building activities100% of teams have at least one executive member of their workforce listed on their team roster as of December 2019

• A total of 409 individuals from across 34 teams participated including county human services, tribal nations, medical college department, community-based agency and state agencies

• At least 90-95% of the participating agencies implemented informal change in their practice and attitudes

• Approximately 25% of agencies implemented formal policy change examples which are incorporating trauma-informed care goals into the agency's strategic planning as well as revising HR policies and supervision policies

Project Updates:


• Successfully retained teams from 14 counties to begin the process of transforming their child welfare policies and practices to integrate trauma-informed principles and practices

• Developed two learning communities that included seven state agencies, including the Department of Children and Families

• Teams of child welfare and state agencies completed 150 outreach activities over the course of their first year

• In one year, increased the number of respondents who agreed or strongly agreed that they integrate trauma-informed principles into their interactions at work from 73 percent to 97 percent of respondents

• Project partners have leveraged $476,215 in funding and in-kind support

• Engaged with media to advance awareness and understanding of trauma-informed care through April 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel five-part series on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

• Presented a poster, "Fostering Futures - A Pilot Project to Improve Child Well-Being Through Trauma Informed Care" at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition (October 2016)

• Engaged in-state and national outreach, including invitations to speak or present as part of numerous panels and conferences

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