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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 25, No. 2
April 2020

Success Coach Service Supports Permanency in Catawba and Beyond

A family's need for support seldom disappears the day reunification or adoption occurs. Recognizing this, Catawba County Department of Social Services (DSS) has partnered with others to develop an intervention that is sustaining permanence in its community and beyond.

A Collaborative Effort
Success Coach Service is a program that matches families with coaches who use support, education, and coordination of services to strengthen permanent placements and enhance child well-being.

Funding from The Duke Endowment enabled Catawba DSS to launch Success Coach Service in 2006. Since then, the program has evolved thanks in part to contributions from partners and funders such as the National Implementation Research Network, Child Trends, NC PASS, Casey Family Programs, and the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship.

Families Served

Post-Adoption. Through a 3-year grant from the NC Division of Social Services, Catawba DSS provides Success Coach Service and other forms of post-adoption services to all types of adoptive families (international, private, or through foster care) in the eight counties of Region 3: Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga, and Wilkes. Families self-refer or are referred for this free service.

Reunification. Funding from The Duke Endowment and Casey Family Programs make Success Coach Service available to families in Catawba County who have achieved reunification. According to Catawba DSS, this voluntary program served 17 families in 2018, all of whom remained reunified during service delivery.

CPS In-Home and Permanency Planning. The program is also being piloted with Catawba County families served by CPS In-Home and Permanency Planning services. Families are notified by the agency about this free, voluntary service. These pilots are funded by The Duke Endowment.

How It Works
During the first few weeks of engagement with families, Success Coaches and family members complete several evidence-based assessments to identify strengths and needs:

In addition, staff gather detailed information about the child's journey to adoption (if applicable), specifically noting trauma histories and risk and protective factors, and they assess the family's understanding of trauma's impact on development and behavior. Assessments are repeated during services and at closure to gauge the family's progress and inform interventions.

With information from the initial assessment, Success Coaches and families develop a service plan to reduce risk factors and increase the family's resiliency by building protective factors. Although services are individualized, coaches' holistic approach typically involves:

  • Connecting families to community resources

  • Helping parents assess their child's needs

  • Providing education and training

  • Offering opportunities to connect with other families

  • Offering support for special school needs

  • Helping families manage crises

  • Providing referrals to individual, family, and group counseling, and

  • Teaching parenting strategies that really work.

At first, coaching visits occur every other week. Depending on circumstances, these visits may decrease to once a month after the first 60 days. Families can stay with the program for up to 2 years. Many stay in touch with their coach to share accomplishments after they conclude the program. Even after families graduate, booster sessions are available if new challenges arise.

To Learn More
For more information, please visit the Success Coach Service website or Facebook page or contact Catawba DSS's Debra Katz (828-695-6908;

Post-Adoption Success Coach Service Results

Debra Katz, Post Care Supervisor at Catawba County DSS, shared the following to illustrate the Success Coach Service's impact on adoptive families in Region 3.


  • 27 families/59 children served
  • 100% reported increased trauma knowledge and protective factors and overall satisfaction with services
  • 10/11 (91%) families reported children remained in their homes 12 months post-services


  • 27 families/53 children served
  • 100% reported increased trauma knowledge and protective factors and overall satisfaction with services
  • 14/15 (95%) families reported children remained in their homes 12 months post-services