In 2014, Reinvestment Fund provided financing for the nation’s first county-level Pay for Success (PFS) program designed to help Cuyahoga County reduce the amount of time that the children of homeless caregivers spend in out-of-home foster care. Sometimes also referred to as a “social impact bond,” the PFS investments will be repaid through the county’s cost savings from accelerating the process of reconnecting children with caregivers in stable, affordable housing.
Cuyahoga County is a national leader in reducing foster care placement days, but discovered that its traditional approach was less effective for children whose families were also experiencing homelessness. These cases require a coordinated approach to delivering housing and supporting services for both parents and children that was difficult to provide utilizing existing resources and funding streams. Extended time in the child welfare system results in poor outcomes for the county’s most vulnerable families, as well as higher costs to the county.
Reinvestment Fund provided a senior loan as part of the financing that supports this $4 million initiative. Our participation in this PFS program builds from Reinvestment Fund’s extensive experience financing affordable housing and community services and our expertise in housing policy issues and analyzing inequities related to low-income and vulnerable populations.
The program’s goal is to reduce out-of-home placement days spent by children of homeless families by 25% over a five-year period. It intends to do so by coordinating access to housing with interventions designed to stabilize the family and improve family functioning, with the aim of successfully reunifying families, or finding permanent placement for children when that outcome is not possible. This project is a significant collaborative effort that includes Cuyahoga County, Frontline Services, the comprehensive care provider that will operate the program, and Case Western Reserve University, which will evaluate its success.
Other partners include Enterprise Community Partners, Third Sector Capital Partners, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Emerald Development and Economic Network, Inc., and Famicos Foundation. Other financing was provided by The George Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, and Nonprofit Finance Fund.
Reinvestment Fund would also like to thank Bennet Midland, a leading policy consulting firm, for donating its time to assessing the child welfare interventions proposed for this initiative, and Heidi Hansan of Miles Stockbridge who provided pro bono legal counsel to the project.