A new strategic $558,000 investment in Central Oregon’s foster care system has been approved by TRACEs, a powerful region-wide partnership of organizations and individuals devoted to raising awareness of trauma and cultivating its antidote — resilience.
The funding will support seven program areas across a variety of organizations focused on: mentoring, family stabilization strategies, culturally responsive care, skill-building and motivational programs, and reunification supports including providing furniture for youth and children who are moving back in with biological parents.
“TRACEs partners are working in many ways to eliminate the need for foster care over the long run, but hundreds of Central Oregon kids are suffering today,” said Katie McClure, executive director of TRACEs, whose more than 100 partners are focused on ensuring everyone has the supports and community experiences needed to overcome adversity. “We have an opportunity right now to remove barriers and create conditions that allow these youth and children to thrive.
This TRACEs investment comes at a time when state government is under increasing pressure to improve Oregon’s foster care system, which is rife with stories of abuse, neglect and inadequate support. TRACEs offers a method for sidestepping budget and lawmaking challenges in Salem to provide essential funding now.
“State legislators applaud TRACEs for taking a leadership role in coordinating this critical regional investment in our foster care system,” said Tim Knopp, Oregon State Senator. “We hope that this collaboration is a beacon that will spur greater attention and action to support these youth.”
A TRACEs working group, made up of dozens of organizations including Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Family Resource Center, Central Oregon Foster Parents Association, Every Child, JBarJ, Friends of the Children and the Oregon Department of Human Services, initially recommended $1.6 million be approved over three years for regional foster care improvements.
For now, the TRACEs steering committee, made up of United Way of Deschutes County, Central Oregon Health Council, Better Together, Early Learning Hub, and Littledeer-Evans Consulting will release the initial $558,000 with the potential for additional funding if more can be secured. (See below for details.)
“It’s interventions such as mentoring, culturally responsive care and other very tangible and realistic supports that can truly change the outcome of a life,” said Ken Wilhelm, executive director of United Way of Deschutes County, which is the backbone support agency for the TRACEs movement. “Research has demonstrated that investments like these, deployed when people need them most, improve well-being, reduce health care costs and improve outcomes in school and employment over time. They are more than worth it.”
Traces Foster Care Funding Allocations
TRACEs allocates funding from a variety of sources including United Way, Central Oregon Health Council, Better Together and more. These recent investments in regional foster care improvements include:
- JBarJ Kindred Connections: Supporting biological families in times of need—$30,000
- Every Child: Culturally appropriate foster family recruitment, training, and retention supports—$80,000
- Family Resource Center: Culturally appropriate foster family recruitment, training, and retention supports—$57,000
- CASA: Culturally appropriate CASA for every child—$284,000 initial investment
- CASA: Finding biological family to provide support—$58,000
- JBarJ/Big Brothers Big Sisters: Providing mentors to children and youth in care—$24,000
- JBarJ Independent Living Program: Ensure basic access, skills, and confidence in the transition to independent living—$25,000
Programs Slated for Future Investments
- Friends of the Children/The Ranch: Providing a safe, welcoming, and culturally responsive place to gather with those with shared lived experience
- Oregon Department of Human Services: Providing culturally appropriate foster family recruitment, training, and retention supports
The mission of TRACEs, an acronym for Trauma, Resilience and Adverse Childhood Experiences, is to create a region where everyone has what they need to overcome the effects of trauma, which can include substance abuse, poor performance in school and at work, and chronic health issues. Through collective action, and with backbone support from the United Way, TRACEs is creating systemic cultural change through research, training, education, stronger communities, advocacy and new funding for programs that will have a lasting impact on the lives of all who live in Central Oregon.