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
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
date Cultural Brokers have completed over 2565 joint community
serving more than 7095 individuals (adults and children).
the families receiving a joint response 91% of the families did not enter the
child welfare system six months post joint response.
found that Cultural Broker involvement in referral assessments resulted in
more engagement with families and less
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
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.
Broker Family Advocate on-going services have resulted in the following
of families who completed the program one year ago successfully reunified with
of families receiving CB services reported improved communication and trust
of families participating in the triage process reported that they understand
the safety and risk factors that must be mitigated to reunify with their
of families showed improved family functioning, stability, safety and self
sufficiency as evidenced in their FDM Matrix assessments
2014, 171 children achieved permanence and were successfully diverted from
entering the child welfare system (legal guardianship with relatives via the
- 97% reported being satisfied with the services received by the Cultural Broker Program