Earlier this month, the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced eight semifinalists for the 2008 Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System Reform. These government programs were selected from a pool of 100 applicants and offer tangible solutions to children and family services issues. The 2008 winner will receive a $100,000 award toward replication and dissemination of best practices.
The Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System Reform was created in 2004 to highlight successful innovation in public systems affecting children and families, and to encourage other systems to adopt these reforms. Through a partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, this annual award encourages improvements in public policy to support disadvantaged children and families.
After a series of thorough rounds of evaluation, a panel of child and family service policy experts selected the semifinalists. Five state, one county, and two city programs make up the semifinalist group. Finalists will be announced June 3, and the winner will be honored at an awards gala in September.
“The eight semifinalists have shown us that effective and innovative programs can play a role in improving the futures of children and strengthening children and family service programs,” said Douglas W. Nelson, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “This is the third year that we are funding this Award, which we feel contributes meaningfully to the Casey Foundation’s mission: improving opportunities and outcomes for America’s most vulnerable children and families.”
Established in 1985 at HKS by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Awards Program has honored 181 federal, state, and local government agencies over its 23-year history. The program provides concrete evidence that government can work to improve the quality of life of citizens. Many award-winning programs have been replicated across jurisdictions and policy areas and serve as forerunners for today’s reform strategies and new legislation.
“The semifinalists for the Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System Reform are at the forefront of some of our nation’s most pressing children and family challenges,” said Daniel Paul Professor of Government Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Awards Program. “They are bringing about core reforms in how we treat domestic violence, juvenile justice, and foster care issues.”
The semifinalists for the 2008 Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System Reform follow:
• Child welfare reform, state of Maine: Motivated by the vision that every child needs a family, Maine has achieved child welfare reform over the past six years through conscious, data-driven management.
• Construyendo Circulos de Paz/Constructing Circles of Peace: Santa Cruz County, Ariz.: A long-term, restorative justice counseling program that brings together multiple stakeholders (perpetrators, victims, families, and community members) in response to crimes of domestic violence.
• Division of Youth Services, state of Missouri: A national model for juvenile justice reform, Missouri’s Division of Youth Services has achieved exemplary results and cost-effectiveness through regionally based, small, humane treatment centers; group and family systems approaches; universal case management; and community engagement.
• Family Civil Intake Screen Process, state of Connecticut: A scientifically validated, comprehensive assessment methodology designed to identify parenting conflicts and match the dynamics of the family with a corresponding array of evidence-based alternative dispute resolution services.
• No Child Left Inside, state of Connecticut: This initiative reconnects families to nature by exposing them to outdoor recreational opportunities, thus growing healthier kids, fostering environmental stewards, and showcasing the joy of playing outside.
• Positive Youth Development, city of Washington, District of Columbia: The nation’s first juvenile justice agency that strives to meet the needs of young people by building their competencies and enabling them to become successful adults.
• Project Zero, New York City: Department of Probation project that enhances public safety and reduces the number of juvenile delinquents removed from home and incarcerated in New York state facilities through family-focused, community-based programs.
• Youth Leadership Advisory Team, state of Maine: A program that engages youth in foster care with state and federal policymakers to create significant improvements in child welfare policies, legislation, and programs.