The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund
The concept of the Children’s Trust Fund originated with the late Ray E. Helfer, M.D., a nationally recognized pediatrician in the field of child abuse and prevention. Dr. Helfer saw that there were trust funds to care for our nation’s highways – why not have trust funds to care for our nation’s children?
Dr. Helfer’s concept has been the catalyst for the nationwide network of community based programs that have been initiated by states with children’s trust and prevention funds. Today, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to establish a trust and prevention fund of their own In early 1980’s the state of Louisiana was recovering from a horrific child abuse fatality. The Joshua Gagnage case caused massive transformation in delivery of child protection services in the state.
In addition to the child protection reforms, the need for separate pool of funds for child abuse and neglect prevention became equally important. Through the efforts of Dr. Larry Hebert, then Chief of Pediatrics at Earl K. Long Hospital, then Assistant Secretary of OCS Brenda Kelley, and child advocate activists Dr. Margaret Pereboom, the Children’s Trust Fund Act was passed unanimously by the Legislature in 1983.
With the passage of the Children’s Trust Fund Act the Louisiana Legislature took a strong stand for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. The feeling was unless prevention is put as a priority in funding with its own separate funds, child abuse fatalities and abuse and neglect would continue to increase. Louisiana was the fifth state in the nation to establish a Children’s Trust Fund. The Trust Fund was housed in the Department of Social Services, Office of Community Services because the belief was the one agency that would be the best partner for the prevention of child abuse and
neglect was that agency that dealt with the results of child abuse and neglect on a daily basis.
The Children’s Trust Fund Act established a separate source of funds solely for the prevention of child abuse and neglect governed by a multi disciplinary Board of Directors composed of a collaboration of representatives from public, quasi-public and nonprofit private sectors. There are state government representatives from the Department of Social Services, Education, Juvenile Corrections; Office of Community Services and the University Community. The quasi-public sector includes representation from professional and business sectors from the Chamber of Commerce, State Medical Society, Juvenile and Family Court Judges, State Bar Association and State Psychological Association. The non-profit private sector includes representation from NAACP, National Business League, Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the Louisiana Association for Education of Young Children and the Religious Community.
The Board of Directors responsibilities include the development of the comprehensive State Plan for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention; oversight of funding of grants for child abuse and neglect prevention programs; and monitoring and evaluation of quality of child abuse and neglect programs
funded through the Children’s Trust Fund. The five year State Plan sets the priorities for programs funded by the Children’s Trust Fund. The State Plan for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect is used as guidelines for funding of programs.
The State Plan is developed with participation from those citizens (parents, teenagers, and teachers), providers (program participants, staff, and community workers) and stakeholders (judges, sheriffs Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund 9 and other elected officials) concerned about child abuse and neglect prevention in their region of the state. Community focus meetings are held in the ten regions of the state. From information collected
at these meetings, regional priorities for funding of Children’s Trust Fund programs are determined.
This structure is one that works from the bottom-up. Through the State Plan regional meetings, the grass-roots communities and networks of family resource and support programs are able to tell the Trust Fund the programs needed in their region. And, through the guidance and oversight of the Children’s Trust Fund Board, funding will be provided for these programs. The process of developing the Plan also includes a program audit of the Children’s Trust Fund as well as a procedural review.
The Children’s Trust Fund focuses and funds primary and secondary prevention services. These services provide support to families BEFORE A CRISIS EMERGES. The premise of primary and secondary prevention services is that EVERYTHING POSSIBLE MUST BE DONE WITH FAMILIES TO MAXIMIZE THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.
Grant awards are made to public and private non-profit organizations, targeting grass-roots agencies, churches, and parish agencies, through a competitive process. After the grants are reviewed by the Children’s Trust Fund Executive Director, they are reviewed and evaluated by board members and outside reviewers. Each grant is reviewed and scored by two separate reviewers.
The scores are then forwarded to the Grant Review Committee which makes recommendations to the Children’s Trust Fund’s Board of Directors. The formula used for dividing the funds in awarding grants is based upon the number of child abuse and neglect cases reported per capita in each region from the prior calendar year.
Areas used in scoring grants include: applicant agency abilities; State Plan priorities; project need and target population; project services and proposed model (evidence based, evidence supported, promising practice, emerging practice); proposal strategic plan (outcomes, benchmarks and performance
measures); proposal evaluation; coordination and collaboration; resources and program continuation; and reasonable and appropriate budget.
Programs must follow a Logic Model design and must be Evidence-Based, Evidence-Supported, Promising Practice or Emerging Practice model program. All Children’s Trust Fund programs are required to have built into their programs from the beginning, indicators, benchmarks
and performance measures to be used for charting the programs success. Evaluation tools and the method of evaluation must also be defined. Program Evaluation Reports are required twice a year. Other required reports include the Final Tabulation Report and Monthly Cost Reports.
All Children’s Trust Fund contracts are with the Department of Social Services /Children’s Trust Fund. Programs must follow all state contractual requirements which include fiscal and program audits. All funding requests from the Children’s Trust Fund are cost reimbursement. Before
any funds are expended, the Monthly Cost Reports are reviewed by the Children’s Trust Fund Executive Director. The Executive Director assures funds are being spent efficiently and are being used as approved in the grant/contract. Monitoring as well as sight visits are made of Children Trust
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
In measuring the success of the Children’s Trust Fund and its programs, one must look at both effectiveness and efficiency measurements. The effective measures records how cost effective the programs are in delivering their services. When you take into account that economists have estimated that for every dollar spent on prevention, nine dollars is saved in treatment, one truly realizes the cost effectiveness of Children’s Trust Fund.
The efficiency measures look at the outcomes and indicators of the programs. What changes occur as a result of the program’s services? What are the signs of progress and success? What are the standards by which success is measured? The anticipated outcomes and indicators are part of the
contractual agreement with the Children’s Trust Fund and are reported twice a year with the Program Evaluation Report. Improved parenting skills; better behavior in school as well as improved grades; more support to first time moms; and better communication skills with your children are some of the positive measurements reported from Children’s Trust Fund programs.
In the twenty-five years of the Children’s Trust Fund’s existence children were taught safety skills and teenagers developed feelings of self-worth in schools, public and private, grades k-12; parents were taught anger management and communication skills at grass-roots churches, local businesses and industries and public and private hospitals; and fathers learned about child development and parenting skills at parish prisons and juvenile correction facilities.
One of the many success stories of the Children’s Trust Fund involved an after-school program working with middle-school children in Arabi, LA. The youth referred to the program had truancy or behavior problems in school. The program provided after-school tutoring and mentoring to these youth.
When the fathers, who mainly worked off-shore, came home, they noticed a true improvement with their children behavior. Their bosses questioned the workers, because they noticed an improvement in their work. The men explained that since their children were in this program there was less stress at home and they were able concentrate on their work knowing the kids weren’t getting into trouble after school. Shell Oil was so impressed they funded the program the next year!
INTEGRATION OF SERVICES
The main concerns with in integration of services are to assure there isn’t duplication of services and at the same time to assure necessary service are being delivered the children and families of Louisiana. As a funding agency the Children’s Trust Fund must make necessary measures to protect that
these concerns remain a major priority. Currently safeguards against duplication of services include requiring Children’s Trust Fund grantees to report from the very beginning in their grant applications any other funding sources of the programs they are requesting funding Also, special provisions in all Children’s Trust Fund contracts state: “Contractor will inform Agency (C.T.F) in writing of any other sources of funding being used in conjunction with the program as outlined in the grant application.” And, “Agency (C.T.F) may terminate this agreement if contractor uses any funds designated in agreement for similar services of purchase of items or materials that have been, or shall have been provided from other funding sources.” These provisions protect against “double-dipping” and duplication of services.
The multi-discipline representation on the Children’s Trust Fund Board with members from several state government agencies allows information to be shared among state departments. Information shared includes programs being funded by other agencies as well as gaps in services. Collaboration
among agencies has protected against duplication of services as well as assuring necessary programs are funded.
Currently, in developing the Child Abuse and Neglect State Plan for 2009- 2014, the Children’s Trust Fund has received input from all disciplines (stakeholders, providers and consumers), private nonprofit and government agencies across the State. An even more detailed strategic plan integrating prevention services delivery across the state will be incorporated into the new State Plan.
Currently, the Children’s Trust Fund, Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana and Office of Community Services have been meeting every other month as a means of information sharing. These meetings are a means to learn from the Office of Community Services of child abuse and neglect indicators and
statistics being seen in reports from the field statewide. The future plan is to expand these meetings to include other government agencies providing prevention services.
The intent of these meetings would not only be information sharing, but also to eliminate duplication of services and to provide oversight of programs being funded by the different government agencies. The responsibility would be to collectively assure that best practices are being followed and evidence-based models targeting the needs of the population are being used effectively and efficiently addressing the gaps in services available in that region of the state.
Besides funding child abuse and neglect programs, the Children’s Trust Fund has served as a catalyst in bringing much needed programs to Louisiana. It was through the Children’s Trust Fund’s initial effort and guidance that such programs as Home-Visitation, the Children’s Cabinet and Safe Haven
were brought to and developed in Louisiana.
The complexion of child abuse and neglect is constantly changing. Programs addressing internet safety, drug addicted babies, and school bullying are a few of the new problems. With the current economic stressors of unemployment, loss of savings and home foreclosure, the need for evidence based quality child abuse and neglect prevention becomes even greater. These stressors are the tipping point that make children more vulnerable and prey to child abuse and neglect.
The true value of the Children’s Trust Fund has been to get to the children sooner, to reduce the severity of injuries and lower the number of fatalities. The Children’s Trust Fund is not about preventing the fist from hitting, but preventing the fist from ever forming.
The National Child Abuse Prevention Field
A Thumbnail History
2007 CDC: Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships a Priority
2004 Circle of Parents established
2004 National Alliance partners with National FRIENDS Resource Center
2003 National Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Initiative
2001 Strengthening Families Initiative launched
1999 National Call to Action
1998 Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Published
1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act passed
1996 Child Care and Development Block Grant established
1992 Healthy Families America initated nationwide
1991 U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse & Neglect Report Released
1989 National Alliance of Children’s Trust & Prevention Funds created
1986 National Sexual Exploitation Act
1984 Landmark McMartin Pre-school case
1982 First National Child Abuse Prevention Week declared by Congress
1981 National Child Abuse Coalition founded
1980 Kansas Forms 1st Children’s Trust Fund
1979 First National Incidence Study (NCCAN)
1974 Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
1972 National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse established (NCPCA)
1970 Parents Anonymous founded
1963 Child Abuse Reporting Laws Instituted across USA
1961 Dr. C. Henry Kemp defines The Battered Child Syndrome
1912 Federal Children’s Bureaus created
1899 Court recognizes states authority over parents in child abuse issues
1876 American Humane Society founded
1874 Mary Ellen Case, New York creates Society for Prevention of
Cruelty to Children