Cultural Broker Family Advocate  - “Supporting the Power of Families to Strengthen Communities.”
About Us 

In 2003 when Fresno County Department of Social Services (Fresno County DSS) adopted the Family to Family Initiative a community collaborative known as the 06 collaborative (zip code 93706) was established in the West Fresno community.  Through this collaborative, Fresno County DSS sought to learn from community members about the experiences of families living in their neighborhoods.  Members were particularly sensitive to the disproportionate representation of their neighborhood children in the county’s child welfare system.  They perceived their neighborhood children were more likely to be placed in long-term foster care or the parents of these children were more likely to experience termination of parental rights.  Fresno County DSS recognized the leadership of this group of concerned community members which included Margaret Jackson, and a host of others who would eventually evolve to form the Cultural Broker Family Advocate Program.  This concerned group of residents, and others in the community, were invited by DSS to attend meetings arranged in their community to begin discussions with top administrators around these concerns.  

Cultural Brokers Inc.’s Cultural Broker Program is designed to raise and address concerns related to disproportionality and disparities that exist in the child welfare system, as well as concerns that involve issues of fairness and equity.  The core belief that drives the work is that every family regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic status will be empowered to develop their own strengths and capacities.  The Cultural Broker Program provides brokering, advocacy and support to families who are involved or who are at risk of involvement with the child welfare system.  The Cultural Broker Program uses the model approach, Cultural Broker Paraprofessional an Agency Community Partnership© with child welfare agencies to insure that their practice approaches with families from diverse populations are culturally congruent and specific to their unmet needs. Through partnerships the program has developed with the community and the child welfare agency, cultural interpretations are provided to decrease the likelihood of cultural misunderstandings.  This is made possible by partnering with the community and the child welfare agency.

The Cultural Broker Family Advocate Program has delivered family advocacy and liaison services to children and families of Fresno County. To date Cultural Brokers Inc.’s Cultural Broker Family Program has successfully delivered family advocacy and liaison services to 2,565 unduplicated families, 4,502 children and 2,593 adults from diverse ethnic backgrounds. 

Cultural Brokers Inc.’s Parent Partner Program is designed to support reunification of children with their parents.  Parent Partners are typically defined as “life trained professionals” (i.e., those who have successfully negotiated the child welfare system).  CBI utilizes an expanded definition of Parent Partners created by Cynthia  Billups the former Annie E. Casey Parent Engagement Technical Assistant for Fresno County, and CBI’s  Parent Partner Program Manager/Consultant. The definition is as follows:

     Parent Partner:  A community dweller parenting a child (children) biologically or otherwise, Previously removed from his/her/their home, who has successfully navigated Fresno County’s Child Welfare System through reunification or other permanency planning.  This individual now opts to ally with the Department as a team change agent, participating in policy and practice reform decision making providing support, wisdom, guidance and components of direct service to parents in and outside the child welfare system. 
      CBI’s Parent Partners serve as mentors by providing support at critical moments in  the parent’s interface with the child welfare system, such as court hearings, important meetings like Team Decision Making (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2002), and when appropriate, during meetings between the parent and caseworkers.  CBI Parent Partners serve as parent  leaders identifying and recruiting other Parent Partners, training child welfare staff on working with Parent Partners, and collaborating with agency staff in designing and improving services.
In addition, they also provide informal support outside of scheduled meetings .  
In the brief 4 years since becoming a corporation CBI has managed to meet all of the challenges of a new and growing organization including becoming a recognized 501c3 nonprofit organization. The progress and achievements over the past four years have been noteworthy and include the following:
  • Recognition by the California Evidenced-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare for CBI’s effective approach to working with children and families
  • Recognized in the National Child Welfare Resource for Organizational Improvement’s October 12 Guide for Developing and Implementing Child Welfare Practice Model as a culturally responsive and inclusive practice model.
  • Providing consultant services to child welfare agencies in California and in other states who want to replicate the CBI practice model.
  • Secured a contract with Fresno County Department of Social Services to implement the Parent Partner Program.
  • Contracted with Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services to provide training, consultation and technical assistance for the development and implementation of a Cultural Broker Program in Sacramento County.
In addition to becoming a successful non-profit organization, Cultural Broker Family Advocate joint response services have resulted in the following outcomes:
  • To date Cultural Brokers have completed over 2565 joint community      
           response calls, serving more than 7095 individuals (adults and children).
  •  Of the families receiving a joint response 91% of the families did not enter the child welfare    system six months post joint response.
  •  DSS found that Cultural Broker involvement in referral assessments resulted in more engagement with families and less cultural misinterpretation.
  •  In 2010 there were 453 African American children removed from their homes and placed in care for eight or more days in addition to the children that were in care at the beginning of the year. In 2012 the number of African American children removed and placed in care at the beginning of the year dropped to 368.
  •  The Cultural Broker Program has played a critical role in Fresno County DSS reform efforts including completion of an Institutional Analysis and Fresno County’s participation in the California Partners for Permanency federal grant and subsequent development and implementation of the California Practice Model.
Cultural Broker Family Advocate on-going services have resulted in the following outcomes:
  •  63% of families who completed the program one year ago successfully reunified with their children
  •  78% of families receiving CB services reported improved communication and trust with DSS
  •  83% of families participating in the triage process reported that they understand the safety and risk factors that must be mitigated to reunify with their children
  •  83% of families showed improved family functioning, stability, safety and self sufficiency as  evidenced in their FDM Matrix assessments
  •  Since 2014, 171 children achieved permanence and were successfully diverted from entering the child welfare system (legal guardianship with relatives via the probate court)
  •  97% reported being satisfied with the services received by the Cultural Broker Program

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