Kentucky will help pilot innovative approaches to helping children, families thrive, thanks to grant from Doris Duke Foundation

Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky will share in a $30 million grant seeking to build supports for families who fall through cracks in the child welfare system. 

The Doris Duke Foundation is funding the three-year initiative called Opt-in for Families (Opportunities for Prevention and Transformation). Pilot sites will be in Kentucky, South Carolina, Oregon and Washington, D.C.

Eric Friedlander. (Doris Duke Foundation)

A release from the foundation said the program is specifically focused on reaching families who get referred to Child Protective Services for “well-being needs rather than safety concerns that do not warrant investigation of neglect or abuse — and who therefore often get no help at all.”

“The child welfare system’s narrow focus on removal is a system design flaw that fails communities, fails many good intentioned caseworkers, and, most of all, fails the children and families who need support and compassion to succeed,” said Sam Gill, Doris Duke Foundation President and CEO. “This effort is intended to demonstrate the potential gains from redesigning a system to ask a new question: what do children and families need to thrive? Kentucky was selected for its commitment to and progress in developing new ways of supporting families.

Eric Friedlander, secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Kentucky is “committed to demonstrating how to build a multi-dimensional child wellbeing system for families who we know are at risk of foster care without waiting for children to experience harm compounded by the trauma of family separation,” according to the release.

The release also says: “The three-year funding, on-the-ground expertise, and staffing provided through Opt-in for Families will enable Kentucky to serve families in new and innovative ways. Opt-in for Families will give Kentucky families options and support, when they need it the most. This groundbreaking partnership connects Kentucky’s Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) with community-based organizations to provide resources and support to children and families. Opt-In for Families supports family choice and supports new pathways for DCBS to support families.”

Additional information can be found at

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