The mission of DCFS is to assure that children at risk of abuse and neglect are protected and nurtured within a family and with the support of the community. Neighborhood Collaboratives are a critical part of fulfilling that mission. We believe children and their families need community resources at their fingertips when times get tough.
DCFS has contracted agreements with nine organizations operating 13 collaboratives or collabs county-wide. These neighborhood-based organizations provide resources and support for families, helping prevent involvement with DCFS. They also work with families that are already involved with our agency, offering support to stabilize family dynamics and return or maintain children safely at home. Collabs also serve as a community voice, advocate, and resource on behalf of children’s well-being, often working with DCFS staff to identify best options to help ensure child safety and permanency.
Collabs provide or connect families to a myriad of services, including:
- Assistance with basic needs.
- Early childhood/youth services.
- Substance abuse services.
- Parenting classes.
- Housing referrals.
- Employment assistance.
- Health and wellness.
Since the founding of settlement houses during the late 1800’s, Cleveland families have received neighborhood-based services for over 135 years. The philosophy of the settlement house movement -- providing everything a family needs in their neighborhood under one roof –is still embraced by these multi-service, neighborhood-based organizations.
Through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to DCFS in 1994, the Family-to-Family Neighborhood Collaboratives were formed. DCFS ultimately chose to focus in 10 neighborhoods, working with neighborhood organizations to develop more neighborhood-based foster care options and help keep children in their placements.
Over the years, each collab has developed different structures and processes to best serve their community. One lead agency coordinates activities with the now 13 collabs, and provides recruitment and family support services to local families in the foster care system.
Collectively the collabs represent various neighborhoods in the county, including inner ring suburbs. Together they spearheaded the Council of Neighborhood Leaders to streamline services and offer a unified perspective in collaboration with the county.