2000 Jordan Institute
1, No. 4
Interview with the Families and Communities Together (FACT) Program's Diane Castellow
Diane Castellow heads the FACT program (Families and Communities Together) in Wake County. She graduated from Guilford College in North Carolina, has a masters in experience, and has worked with Interact and DSS in the past.
Practice Notes (PN): What is FACT?
FACT is a secondary prevention program targeted to families with infants under 3 months old who may be at risk for abuse or neglect.
PN: How and when did FACT begin?
FACT began in 1993 following many discussions throughout the agency of the decreasing number of voluntary services available to families. We modeled our program on two other programs--Hawaii's Healthy Start program and Iowa's Family Development program. Our goal was to prevent abuse and neglect through family support services.
Linda Johnson, who started the conversation about such a program, became concerned after a comment a police officer made to her. She was out on a CPS call one night, and the police officer present turned to her and said, "Well, you've rescued this one. What are you going to do with the rest?"
This made her stand back and think about how much supportive, voluntary services had decreased. She believed that without them the cycle of abuse and neglect would just continue.
PN: How do you involve families in your program?
We are different than the Hawaii Model because of confidentiality constraints. In the Hawaii model, all children are referred at birth from the hospital. We do not automatically receive referrals from hospitals. However, various agencies, families themselves, or school systems refer.
We do not accept referrals from CPS. To be involved with our program, families can't be active CPS cases or have been active in the last six months. We also only serve two census tract areas in Wake County, so this limits who can be referred to the program.
PN: You mentioned that you work with families at risk for abuse or neglect. How do you determine their risk?
We use the Kempe Family Stress Checklist. This instrument has shown 99 percent accuracy in predicting who will not abuse or neglect their children. By choosing only families that score over 25 on this instrument, we are able to target those who need assistance the most.
PN: What types of problems are the families you serve experiencing?
Many are among the working poor. About one-third are teen mothers. Most are living day-to-day and are unable to be future-oriented without assistance. For many of these families, there is not just one issue. A combination of factors exists that puts them at risk.
PN: What are the typical activities FACT workers engage in with families?
Everything from locating basic resources like cribs and car seats to intense counseling with families.
PN: How many families are served, and what are caseloads like?
Currently, 45 families are being served. The maximum that could be served is 75. Caseloads vary depending on how long a worker has been with the program. We serve families for up to five years. In the first year, a worker can carry 15 families. In the second, 20. And in the third, 25. Caseloads should never be above 25 families at one time.
PN: Are you planning to make improvements in the program?
Yes. We're planning to change our intake strategy. Right now, an intake worker makes the initial contact and does the assessment on each family. Then, a family worker gets involved. We want to change this so that the first person a family meets is their on-going worker.
Professionals versus paraprofessionals is another area of which we are constantly aware. Right now we use professionals with our families. However, as the program grows, we may be able to create a tiered system whereby paraprofessionals can be better utilized. (The Hawaii program uses all paraprofessionals.) We are continually evaluating and revamping. The program certainly will not be the same next year as it is today.
© 1996 Jordan Institute for Families