By: Kristin Maldonado

About Strengthening Families

The YMCA Childcare Resource Service was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families to support Community Collaborations to Strengthen and Preserve Families. This is a five-year, $2.73m grant that started on September 30, 2019.

The project intends to strengthen community collaborations to prevent family entry into the Child Welfare system by increasing family protective factors, improving child safety and well-being, increasing availability and access to prevention support services, and mobilizing the community to prevent child maltreatment. The program’s target population includes children ages 0-5, along with their families, caregivers, and early care and education providers in San Diego County.

About the Issue

For vulnerable families, limited income and inadequate housing, if left unattended, can escalate to crisis and lead to formal CWS involvement. According to a 2019 report, neglect, defined as the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, educational, or emotional needs, comprises the majority of child maltreatment. In areas of the county plagued by economic hardship, allegations of child maltreatment caused by neglect may involve parents struggling financially, unable to afford adequate food, shelter, or clothing for their children.

In San Diego County, neglect comprises an average of 75% of all substantiated child maltreatment allegations for children ages 0-5. The Community Collaborations Prevention project will offer critical interventions for parents through a cross-sector, systems-level coordination of services and partnerships to support families early, strengthen protective factors, and align community-based prevention services to reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment.

Families can only benefit from available services if systems can proactively identify and engage families in prevention services proven effective in reducing child maltreatment. Multi-sector, coordinated access to a variety of preventive resources can increase efficiency of intake and enrollment for families and improve utilization of services.

The Y's Response

The Community Collaborations Prevention project will expand the newly established San Diego Child Abuse Prevention Team, which currently includes the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Departments of Child Welfare Services, Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Self-Sufficiency Programs; Children’s Legal Services; Casey Family Programs; San Diego County Office of Education; YMCA Childcare Resource Service; South Bay Community Services; Urban League of San Diego; and First 5 San Diego. Additional partners who contributed formal support/commitment for this proposal include: San Diego Housing Commission, 2-1-1 San Diego, Health Center Partners of Southern California, San Diego Workforce Partnership, SAY San Diego, American Academy of Pediatrics, Department of Child Support Services, and Grossmont College Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Care Education Program. Harder + Company Community Research and the Social Policy Institute (San Diego State University School of Social Work) will provide evaluation and consultative support for the project.


*This product was funded by the Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under grant #90CA1861.  The contents of this blog post are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Children’s Bureau.