The Downey Cares Collaborative (DCC) is a coalition of public-private organizations based in the City of Downey, California, whose mission is to identify and coordinate the resources of the community to address the needs of children and families served by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Santa Fe Springs office. The purpose of this formative evaluation is to determine whether the DCC achieved its objectives during its first year, to uncover the benefits of participation in the DCC, to give thought to objectives for its second year, and to discuss the feasibility of expanding the scope of the DCC to additional cities within Los Angeles County. Five individual interviews with six members of the DCC and two group interviews with twelve DCFS administrators and staff were conducted. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed and the results, discussion, and conclusions are presented.
The results indicate that the DCC has met its objectives in “ Education and Career Support”, “Recruit Foster Parents/Establish Visitation Centers”, “Mental Health Services/Counseling”, and “Material Resources/Support”; that the members of the DCC benefit from their participation in the DCC; that they want the DCC to continue to address additional needs/issue-areas for its second year; and that they have important points to consider regarding the feasibility of expanding the scope of the DCC to additional cities within Los Angeles County.
In its inaugural year, the DCC has been able to 1) support prevention efforts within the community, 2) engage the local faith-based organizations to recruit foster parents, and 3) build the community’s capacity for prevention by assembling a diverse coalition of organizations across public, private, and nonprofit sectors that work together to meet the needs of children and families.
In order to expand the scope of the DCC Model to other cities in Los Angeles County, it is recommended that the DCC invite and incorporate the remaining ten cities within the Santa Fe Springs service area as a pilot program 1) to build upon the networking strength of the DCC to invite and convene participants from their contacts in neighboring cities; 2) to expand the capabilities of the DCC to meet the additional needs of DCFS children and families and address the additional goals and objectives of DCFS, especially in the City of South Gate; and 3) to consider replicating this model in other DCFS Regional Offices throughout Los Angeles County in the future.