Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders joined representatives from Lund, the Vermont Department for Children and Families, and the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs at a press conference to announce that Lund has been awarded a $3 million Regional Partnership Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration of Children and Families. Over the next five years, Lund will use this funding to develop and implement the Vermont Family Recovery Project (VTFRP), to provide intensive home based services for at-risk families in Burlington and Newport.
Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised Lund: “There is no more important investment than in our children and families, especially those who are at risk as a result of the opioid epidemic. This announcement of a new $3 million grant to Lund is a crucial step in meeting the growing need for case management and supportive services to families throughout Vermont. I am proud that Lund has received recognition for its leadership in working to break the cycle of poverty, addiction and abuse that so many families across our country continue to face. Our common goal must be to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of all providers, and to demonstrate a successful model for other communities to follow.”
Senator Bernie Sanders is also very supportive of this project. “The evidence is clear: when families get the support they need to remain together, it is better for the person in recovery and it is better for the well-being of the child,” said Sanders. “I believe we can achieve the goal of keeping families together and keeping children safe, and I believe this grant will allow Lund to do just that.”
“Lund believes that child safety and well-being is everyone’s responsibility,” says Courtney Farrell, Director of Child and Family Services at Lund. “Effective collaboration is necessary to achieve the goal of family well-being. Lund is eager to begin implementation of the Vermont Family Recovery Project and continue our successful synergetic relationship with DCF and ADAP. Working in partnership across different systems is key to breaking multigenerational cycles of addiction and ensuring the health and safety of Vermont’s children.”
Lund has been an effective and proven agent in Vermont’s efforts to strengthen families and protect children. The VTFRP project aligns with the Vermont Agency of Human Services’ goals to promote safe and stable families through interagency collaboration and program integration by establishing a plan to provide services that increase permanency and wellbeing for children when parental substance use disorder places them at risk for out-of-home placement. The new grant builds on Lund’s successful implementation of the Regional Partnership Program (RPP), which started as a federal grant and has been sustained by state agencies. It has provided a successful infrastructure for ongoing cross-system collaboration with Lund, the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF), the Vermont Agency of Drug and Alcohol Programs (ADAP), substance use disorder treatment providers, courts, early childhood systems and social supports.
Vermont has the fourth highest rate of out-of-home placements for children in the United States. While measures vary, the Vermont Department of Health estimates that opioid use has increased more than 250 percent between 2009 and 2016. As substance use has increased, the number of children who come into custody of the Vermont Department of Children and Families (DCF) for abuse or neglect has increased by 47 percent since 2009. The volume of cases has overwhelmed case management, family courts, and treatment systems, causing delays in the child welfare system’s response. These delays place children at greater risk of out-of-home placements and compromises the timeliness of permanency for children. Barriers resulting from Vermont’s rural geography, fragmented systems, and inadequate cross-agency coordination further hinder Vermont’s effective and timely response to these conditions.
Intensive clinical family support that is home-based does not currently meet the need, despite the positive outcomes with this approach. State funding for these type of intensive, home-based services is more often targeted for families where children have already been removed from their family of origin. This project will focus on reducing risk and increasing wellness in order to prevent the disruption of the family. Through the Vermont Family Recovery Project, Lund will work in collaboration with DCF, ADAP, Parent Child Centers, Children’s Integrated Services, substance use disorder treatment providers and other community support agencies. The goals of the grant are to (1) improve well-being, permanency and safety for children; (2) improve stability in recovery from substance use disorder, well-being, and family interactions for parents; and (3) improve communication and collaboration within Vermont’s systems of care for children who are at risk for out-of-home placements resulting from maltreatment.
Eligible families will have an open family support case with DCF, and reside in the geographic regions served by DCF’s Burlington or Newport District offices; will have a parent with an identified substance use issue; and have children who are at-risk for an out-of-home placement, including at least one child who is ages 0-6. The VTFRP will use multigenerational, family-centered, trauma-informed, strengths-based approaches to provide home-based services including intensive case management, connection and support for substance use treatment and recovery services, family therapy, and clinical care to support families to increase stability and well-being for all family members.