Youth Villages is a leading nonprofit transforming the field of foster care and juvenile justice to help the country’s most vulnerable children and families live successfully. Through 25-years of learning and research with more than 70,000 children its approach of Evidentiary Family Restoration™ is relentlessly focused on building strong families and produces a long-term success rate of 80%, which is nearly twice the national average, and it operates at one-third the cost compared to traditional services.
The Five Core Tenets of Evidentiary Family Restoration are:
1. Evidentiary Family Restoration treats children and families simultaneously. Evidentiary Family Restoration (EFR) is built on the evidence that sustainable long-term success for troubled children is most consistently achieved by restoring a supportive family system around each child. It is optimally the child’s original family. It may be an adoptive family. Whatever form the family takes, it is the vital element for preventing recidivism and destructive behaviors.
2. Evidentiary Family Restoration requires measurable long-term outcomes. For too long, the national systems that serve troubled children and their families, including the children’s mental health, child protective and juvenile justice communities, paid little attention to the long-term outcomes of children. Warehousing troubled children creates troubled young adults. Using an EFR approach with their families, however, significantly increases the likelihood that they are still on positive trajectories even two years after discharge. Tracking every child and documenting successful outcomes 12 and 24 months after discharge are critical components of EFR.
3. Evidentiary Family Restoration is sustained in the community. Families vastly outperform states or service providers at raising children. EFR keeps children in the home whenever safely possible, and ensures out-of-home placements – including foster care – are rare, short-term, actively inclusive of the child’s family, and used only out of urgent necessity… all with the ultimate goal of returning the child to a safe, permanent and supportive home as soon as possible.
4. Evidentiary Family Restoration uses highly intensive protocols that are delivered 24/7. A key element of EFR’s effectiveness is the delivery of a comprehensive, research-based and immersive level of contact with the child, family and community. This is possible only through very low case-load ratios, intense training and clinical oversight and empowered, accountable front-line staff on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
5. Evidentiary Family Restoration delivers unprecedented accountability to families and funders. Increasing pressure for fiscal accountability nationwide has driven much of the interest in EFR because the approach ensures that any public or private resources expended deliver proven social outcomes. Data-driven and outcomes-focused child services are moral obligations not only to the children served, but also to the public and private dollars of which states, agencies and providers are stewards. For families and funders both, EFR provides a single source of accountability for a family’s success.