When The Duke Endowment launched a retrospective evaluation of its out-of-home care grantmaking, we wanted outside experts to take a long, hard look at our work helping children in the child welfare system in the Carolinas. The Chapin Hall research institute at the University of Chicago took on the challenge, scrutinizing $49.6 million worth of investments in 80 organizations from 2006 to 2015.
The study, released late last year, taught us many things. Perhaps most significantly, it recommended that despite the many challenges to reforming complex, evolving and often fragmented child welfare systems, the Endowment should continue to invest in efforts to help foster children.
The study found that the Endowment’s shift away from providing unrestricted financial support created new challenges for the children’s homes and other child-serving agencies. However, the increased emphasis on seeking better programmatic and organizational outcomes through strategic support also encouraged providers to more clearly articulate their goals and strategies.
The study also took note of other major themes that emerged from the Endowment’s work over that decade: The broadening of the service array beyond residential care, the promotion of higher quality standards via national accreditation and staff competency, engagement with public child welfare systems, and the need for greater alignment of priorities among the Endowment, the states, counties and service providers.