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Every year, more than seven million children in the US are reported for child abuse or neglect. An estimated 37.4 percent of all children in the US experience a child protective services investigation by age 18. In many cases, the interventions meant to help children and families can trigger unintended negative consequences, especially as it relates to education. Foster youth have a high school graduation rate below 30 percent, and only three to five percent graduate from college, compared to 38 percent of students overall. Children who receive child welfare services have an increased risk of poor mental health as adults and are more likely to attempt suicide.
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"The more we learned about the child welfare system, the more opportunities we saw for disruption in this space," said Carrie Morgridge, co-founder of the Morgridge Family Foundation, "MFF was uniquely positioned to bring together organizations and leaders with the knowledge and ideas to drive change."
While the child welfare system attracts dedicated and caring professionals, they often lack the resources and support they need to serve their clients at full capacity. Through collaborations with partner organizations and experts, MFF has already helped drive critical improvements to the child welfare system.
MFF's ultimate goal with the Child Welfare Initiative is to keep more families together and focus on interventions that provide adequate research capacity and executive training.
Two landmark projects will address gaps in research capacity:
1. Colorado Research & Implementation Science Team (CRIST)
MFF has dedicated $1.1 million to empower the CRIST to build data capacity alongside small, local nonprofits and elevate their work to submit the efficacy of their programs to the federal clearinghouse. Approval from the clearinghouse empowers organizations to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements.
MFF built a coalition to make this work possible, including Casey Family Programs, Think of Us (https://www.thinkof-us.org/), Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab (https://coloradolab.org/), Mile High United Way (https://unitedwaydenver.org/) and the Colorado Department of Human Services (https://cdhs.colorado.gov/). With support from this coalition, the CRIST will increase federal funding for prevention services, improve access to evidence-based child welfare programs across the state and prioritize programs designed by and for BIPOC, rural, tribal and underserved communities all through building evidence across Colorado's child welfare programs.
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2. The Child Welfare Executive Accelerator
MFF awarded MindSpark (https://www.mindspark.org/), a social-design firm, $330,000 to launch the Child Welfare Executive Accelerator. The accelerator will empower frontline staff to solve the problems directly facing their children and families through design thinking, executive training and research support. The first accelerator launched in North Dakota on October 24-25, 2022 with others planned across the country.
MFF and Mindspark will present the model and key learning points from experiences in North Dakota to child welfare leaders and potential future funders at conferences around the country.
Further details on each project will become available in the coming weeks. For more information on MFF's Child Welfare Initiative, visit morgridgefamilyfoundation.org/about/child-welfare.
The Morgridge Family Foundation invests in leaders and organizations that are reimagining solutions to some of today's biggest challenges. MFF offers vision, community, and resources to support a network of partners achieving their profound impact. Learn more at thinkmff.org.
Morgridge Family Foundation
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