Families Together helps prevent child maltreatment by responding early to reports of abuse and neglect received by Family and Children's Services. Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center is the lead agency, collaborating with partners, such as Family and Children's Services, a division of the Human Services Department, Health Services Agency and Families in Transition.
While we've made recent progress in decreasing the risk of abuse in vulnerable families, Santa Cruz County historically has had higher rates of child abuse and neglect than any other Bay Area county. The rates are also higher than the states as a whole. In 2011, there were 10.9 substantiated cases of child abuse per 1,000 children ages 0-17 in Santa Cruz County as compared to 9.4 per 1,000 in California.
Of all the referrals to the child welfare screening unit, only about 8% meet the necessary criteria to receive services from FCS. Before Families Together, too many children were left without help while family problems worsened. Now, early intervention is here to help before family difficulties escalate to the level of maltreatment. Children are safer and families are supporting healthier child development.
A home visiting program includes:
Participating families are encouraged to identify goals and objectives to support:
Families are referred through the child welfare system. They participate in Families Together voluntarily. A total of 214 children (0-5) and 147 parents received some kind of services in 2011-2012.
In 2011, there were 10.9 substantiated cases of child abuse per 1,000 children ages 0-17 in Santa Cruz County as compared to 9.4 per 1,000 in California. 67% of families were assessed as being either high risk or very high risk upon intake. This figure dropped to 18% by the second reassessment, indicating that the program is helping families reduce their level of risk.
Of the 72 families who received services from Families Together and had their cases closed in the 2011 calendar year, 92% had no substantiated allegations of maltreatment at least six months after case closure.