Promoting Safe and Stable Families: Regional Partnership Grants National Cross-Site Evaluation

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau

Congress authorized the Regional Partnership Grants (RPG) program to enhance the well-being, improve the permanency, and enhance the safety of children who are in, or at risk of, out-of-home placements as a result of a parent’s or caretaker’s substance use disorder. The Children’s Bureau has made 21 grants to partnerships in 19 states. Partner agencies in the fields of child welfare, substance abuse treatment, family courts, and other systems provide combinations of evidence-based or evidence-informed programs and practices (EBPs) including residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment, parenting and/or family strengthening, treatment for trauma or mental health problems, counseling and peer support groups, and child development services. The partnerships are required to evaluate their RPG projects and participate in a national cross-site evaluation.

Mathematica is conducting the national cross-site evaluation and providing grantees with technical assistance to support their participation in the evaluation and help with the design and implementation of their local evaluations. The cross-site evaluation is focused on the functioning of the regional partnerships, their implementation of selected EBPs, participant outcomes, and program impacts among a subset of grantees that are able to implement rigorous local evaluations. Mathematica has also examined the grantees’ use of trauma-informed practices and is developing instruments to assess the costs of EBPs that are designed to address child and/or adult trauma. Mathematica is conducting site visits and web-based surveys of grantees and their partners, as well as frontline staff working in the evidence-based programs. For the cross-site evaluation, grantees are providing data on their implementation and participant outcomes through web-based data systems developed for the evaluation by Mathematica and its subcontractors, WRMA, Inc. and Synergy Enterprises, Inc.

The cross-site evaluation measures child well-being, safety, and permanency; adult substance use and participation in substance abuse treatment; and levels of family functioning and stability. The measurements are based on administrative data and scores from standardized instruments that RPG grantees administer to participants. To date, Mathematica has produced reports to Congress that describe the progress and performance of the partnerships, along with evaluation results. Annual reports describe the designs and status of local evaluations and the cross-site evaluation, and provide feedback and lessons learned to the Children’s Bureau. Mathematica has also examined the extent to which the 50 programs implemented by the partnerships are evidence-based.