US Senate committee considers Utah’s HomeWorks model, keeping kids out of foster care; funding reform 

Written by  on August 2, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — Ann Silverberg Williamson, executive director of the Utah Department of Human Services, will present testimony at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Tuesday at a 10 a.m. EDT, 8 a.m. MDT, on the subject, “A Way Back Home: Preserving Families and Reducing the Need for Foster Care.”

Williamson is invited as a witness testifying to Utah’s early intervention program

Williamson is invited as a witness testifying to Utah’s early intervention program, HomeWorks, which uses evidenced-based strategies to keep families safely together and reduce placements in foster care.

She will also advise on how federal funding reform can support in-home services.

“Evidence indicates that children are stronger and have longer success rates when they can safely remain in their family unit, school and community,” Williamson said. “HomeWorks strengthens families through early intervention, education and partnerships that cultivate community ownership for a child’s well-being.”

HomeWorks started in 2013 when Utah received a federal Title VI-E waiver to allow funding previously restricted to caring for children only out of their homes to be used to safely support children and families within their homes. See Utah’s Title VI-E funding reform fact sheet here: Finance Reform Doc_5.14.15.

Utah already has one of the lowest rates of children entering foster care in the nation, despite having the highest number of children per capita

Utah already has one of the lowest rates of children entering foster care in the nation, despite having the highest number of children per capita. Now, it is gaining national attention for its family-based, in-home vision.

“With the Title VI-E waiver, we have been able to help more than 1,000 Utah families work through challenges together in their homes and realize longer-term success,” Williamson said. “We hope our early results will be beneficial to the Senate Finance Committee in their discussions for permanent flexibility in Title VI-E funding to offer more in-home options and further reduce low-risk foster care placement.”

HomeWorks fact sheet, December 5, 2014 | Flyer  courtesy of Utah Department of Human Services, St. George News

Williamson will share her remarks with four other witnesses with different perspectives on reducing the trauma of foster care placement and strengthening families with in-home services, including:

  • Sandra Killett | Parent advocate from New York City
  • Rosalina Burton | Former foster youth from Escondido, California
  • Donna Butts | Executive director of Generations United from Washington, D.C.
  • Chuck Nyby | Differential response operations and policy analyst of the Child Welfare Program and Oregon Department of Human Services from Salem, Oregon

The hearing will be broadcast live over the committee’s website.

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