30 Days to Family® is an intense short-term intervention developed by the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition of St. Louis, MO to 1) increase the number of children placed with relatives/kin at the time they enter the foster care system; and 2) ensure natural and community supports are in place to promote stability for the child. The program model features two major elements: family finding and family support interventions.
The study conducted was a rigorous, independent evaluation designed to test the program model's theory of change which posits foster children/youth served by the program will experience more favorable immediate, intermediate, and longer-term outcomes resulting in improved well-being, reduced mental health concerns, and cost savings.
The study employed a set of four sub-studies:
1. An implementation study that examined implementation fidelity and context and informed further specification of the program model, differentiating it from services "as usual."
2. Analyses of child welfare administrative data for all children placed in foster care in study localities during the study period (n=2,809) compared those served (n=310) with those not served by 30 Days to Family® and those who achieve relative placement with those who do not on demographic and case variables and examining likelihood of relative placement, time in care, permanency goals and outcomes, placement stability, and likelihood of placement in medical and mental health treatment settings.
3. A sub-study based on caregiver interviews (n=97) with a representative sample of children remaining in foster care who were served and not served and were in relative and non-relative placements assessed the status of children/youth, placement supports, service needs and utilization, connections with relatives, and, using a standardized instrument, well-being and functioning.
4. A cost sub-study that compared costs associated with the 30 Days to Family® program model and the "as usual" model of services and then specified foster care costs and potential areas of cost savings based on favorable findings from analyses of child welfare administrative data that included fewer days in care, greater placement stability, and reduced likelihood of placement in treatment settings and re-entry to foster care for children served and those who achieve relative placement.
The primary focus of analyses is comparing the status and outcomes for those served with the status and outcomes for those not served. Additionally, because the primary aim of providing program services is to increase and support placements with relatives and is predicated on an assumption, supported by prior research, that children derive greater benefit from care by relatives than from care by non-relatives, a secondary focus of analyses is comparing the status and outcomes for children who experienced relative care, whether they were served or not served, and comparing them with children in non-relative care.
Atkinson, A.J. (2017). 30 Days to Family® theory of change testing: Comprehensive report (Evaluation report). Petersburg, VA: PolicyWorks, Ltd. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.17423.69284