Section 4.6

State and Local Policymakers and Advocates Should Promote Coordinated, Blended or Braided Public Funding Streams that Create a Seamless, Comprehensive Community-based Continuum of Care for Youth and Families

Financing a comprehensive continuum of care requires that states and local policymakers make effective use of all available resources.  No single child or family-serving system or agency can pay for and provide the array of services needed to effectively meet the often complex needs of youth and families who struggle with behaviors labeled status offenses, and this may be particularly true in rural or under-resourced areas. Further, youth and families in crisis need immediate responses, and are put at greater risk when they are forced to navigate multiple intake points, multiple eligibility requirements and multiple case plans and managers. When, however, systems and agencies pool their financial and human capital, they can facilitate measurable outcomes for youth and families well beyond the scope of what any single system or agency can hope to achieve on its own.1

It is imperative that state and local policymakers work diligently to break down silos between systems, agencies and funding streams to ensure that youth and families have unfettered access to needed programs and services without falling through the cracks and without having to become court-involved.  The breaking down of silos is facilitated by mapping all current and available funding sources and then coordinating, blending or braiding distinct federal, state and local funding streams that are designed to meet one or more needs of any given youth and family.2  Once the mapping is complete, the chosen collaborative funding strategy can be implemented through an intermediary organization3 that receives and directs use of the funding, or via a memorandum of agreement between systems and agencies that spells out clearly implementation, reporting, accountability and success measures.

1 National Governor’s Association, Center for Best Practices. (May 2004). Early Lessons from States to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: National Governor’s Association Social, Economic and Workforce Programs.

2 For more information, see Flynn-Khan, M., Ferber, T., Gaines, E., & Pittman, K. (2006). Adding it up: A Guide for Mapping Public Resources for Children, Youth and Families. Washington, DC: The Forum for Youth Investment & The Finance Project.

3 For more information on the potential roles of intermediary organizations, see “Blending and Braiding Funds and Resources: The Intermediary as Facilitator.” (January 2006). Washington, D.C.: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability. Available at: