Casey Family Programs Publications
How can a community challenged with high removal rates of children due to abuse or neglect become a Community of Hope? For the Bester community in Hagerstown, Maryland, the answer lies in overhauling its approach to strengthening families and keeping children safe.
The San Mar Children’s Home, a group home facility for youth in foster care, asked itself if there might be a better way to help families and provide support before children need to be removed. They began working with Casey Family Programs to demonstrate a new approach to child welfare in the Hagerstown area. After securing additional investments and enlisting the support and buy-in of other partners, including the principal of Bester Elementary School, San Mar decided to close its residential programs and instead focus on a full-service, preventive approach to helping families, with the school as the hub.
Bester Elementary is a natural point of connection for its 600 students and their families. Within the building, a food pantry, free community health clinic and an afterschool program, as well as on-site case management and coordinated services, are available. A new school counselor, a school–family liaison and the administrative team are all connected to the Bester Community of Hope network. The school has brought in special guests, including Olympic athletes and astronauts, to raise the hopes and dreams of its children. And the community partnership continues to focus on ways to strengthen families and improve their outcomes.
January 20, 2017
Across America, conversations are growing about how to ensure the safety and success of children and families. They turn on this key question: What would the child welfare system look like if we could better support families before they are in crisis, before children are separated?
Today the child welfare system in America is entering a watershed period. With greater knowledge about what works best to keep children safe, strengthen families and address the lifelong impact of trauma, leaders in government, business, nonprofits, philanthropy and communities are thinking, planning and acting in ways that can help transform our approach to child protection into a true system of child and family well-being.
From San Francisco to Hagerstown, Maryland, communities across America are on the pathway of hope for children and families.
May 13, 2019
Casey Family Programs is pleased to announce the recipients of Jim Casey Building Communities of Hope Awards. Named in honor of the founder of Casey Family Programs, these awards recognize communities that have brought together public, business, nonprofit, philanthropic and community partners to improve the safety and success of children and their families. The Bester community in Hagerstown, Maryland, can be a challenging place for families to raise children safely, with a high poverty rate, health challenges and a high rate of children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. In the face of these challenges, San Mar Family & Community Services began questioning the value of their group home and foster placement services and whether there was a better approach to improving the safety of children and their families. Based on their discussions, San Mar decided to shift their focus from treatment to prevention. They formed a partnership with Casey Family Programs to launch a demonstration project for a new approach to child welfare. Hagerstown is a place where public and private organizations — nonprofits, philanthropies, government, businesses and communities — collaborate closely to build a Community of Hope. They focus on prevention with a place-based strategy for positive outcomes for children and families located in the Bester Elementary School neighborhood. The early outcomes have been promising: Bester Elementary was identified by Washington County Public Schools as having the most improved attendance in Washington County, and the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University awarded Bester Elementary the 2017-2018 School of the Year award.