Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model
About This Program
Target Population: Sibling groups of 2 or more children from infancy through seventeen years of age who are in the custody of the state; youth older than 14 must be part of a sibling group; ideally children and families newly involved in the foster care system or possibly have re-entered the foster care system due to disrupted adoptions or have transferred from another agency
The Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model was developed by Gordon Johnson as the Neighbor To Neighbor model while he was President & CEO of The Jane Addams Hull House Association. The unique child-centered, family-focused foster care model is designed to keep sibling groups, including large sibling groups, together in stable foster care placements while working intensively on reunification or permanency plans that keep the siblings together. Neighbor To Neighbor began in 1994 serving targeted communities in Chicago where the majority of children came into foster care. The program uses a community-based, team-oriented approach, including foster caregivers and birth parents as part of the treatment team. Trained and supported foster caregivers are key to the model's success. Neighbor to Neighbor professionalized this key role by placing these trained foster caregivers on the payroll with salaries and benefits. Foster families, birth families, and children receive comprehensive and intensive services including individualized case management, advocacy, and clinical services on a weekly basis. Mr. Johnson incorporated the Neighbor to Neighbor model in 2000 as the Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model, retaining Neighbor to Neighbor’s essential components and expanding its operating model and geographic presence beyond Illinois.
The goals of the Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model are:
- Siblings referred to Neighbor to Family will placed together in one foster home.
- Neighbor to Family caregivers will receive 90 hours initial training and then 50+ hours annually.
- Siblings will stay in their original placement until discharged from care.
- Siblings will be returned home, be in an alternate permanent placement, or be in the process of being adopted in less than 12 months after placement.
The essential components of Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model include:
- Using licensing representatives who are responsible for recruiting and developing potential professional foster parents
- Using highly trained (minimum 50 hours training annually) foster caregivers who receive a monetary enhancement to their state’s standard room and board rate
- Being community-based
- Using a strength-based team (foster caregiver, birth parent, and association employee) approach
- Assigning one case manager and advocate per family
- Placing one sibling group per foster family
- Providing foster family & birth family case management services
- Providing comprehensive in-house clinical services, including evaluations and medication management by a contracted pediatric psychiatrist and services by a substance abuse treatment provider who understands and supports Neighbor To Family’s philosophy and goals
- Utilizing a Phases of Sibling Foster Care approach that provides a clear description of interventions utilized from intake through aftercare
- Obtaining family engagement with 24 hours of intake
- Employing Family Team Meetings to engage birth parents, staff and other stakeholders and when appropriate, children to develop a team approach to setting goals and holding participants accountable for the success of the permanency plan
- Providing 24-hour staff availability and support
- Offering respite care for foster caregivers
- Emphasizing reunification and alternate permanency planning for sibling groups
- Providing aftercare for up to one year following reunification
- Using outside clinical consultants for parenting capacity assessments, consultation for treatment planning or critical decision-making
- Providing an education liaison to be the resident expert on special education laws and advocacy within the school system since many of the children treated require special education services; the education liaison supports staff and foster parents
Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:
- Complex trauma, mental health challenges, developmental delays, cognitive deficits, attachment issues, grief and loss issues, behavioral problems, educational challenges, and pre-natal exposure to substances
Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:
- Substance or alcohol abuse, mental health challenges, domestic violence, unemployment, parent-child relational and interaction issues, anger management, deficits in parenting skills or child management, and adult survivors of childhood abuse and neglect
Weekly foster home visits for at least one hour.
As long as it takes for reunification to occur occur with an emphasis on achieving permanency with 12 months and two placement moves or less. If reunification is not an option and the foster parent(s) become potential adoptive parents or guardians, the number or visits usually decrease per month. The amount of times visits occur is then determined on a family-by-family basis. However, at minimum foster home visits must occur once every 30 days until the family case is closed with the state agency and the juvenile court.
This program is typically conducted in a(n):
- Birth Family Home
- Community Agency
- Foster/Kinship Care
This program does not include a homework component.
Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model has materials available inlanguages other than English:
For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).
Resources Needed to Run Program
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
- Foster Caregivers
- Case managers
- Family advocates
- Licensing representatives
- Educational liaison
Contractors and/or Community Partners:
- Substance abuse treatment provider
- Clinical consultants
- Assessment tools
- Therapeutic games
- Educational toys
- Video tapes, DVDs, CDs, VCR
- DVD player
- Video camera
- Digital camera
- Art supplies
- Writing material
- Staff offices
- Family visiting rooms
- Therapy rooms
- Conference rooms
Education and Training
Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications
At least a Bachelor's degree in social work or human service related field, Master's degree in human service related field preferred
Case Manager Supervisors:
Master's degree in human service related field
Master's level degree with licensure or license-eligible
Master's level degree with licensure or license-eligible
Education and Training Resources
There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.
- Gordon Johnson
Training is obtained:
Consultation is available on-site and by phone.
Number of days/hours:
Consultation provided. Timeframe determined on an individual basis.
There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model as listed below:
A peer Program Review process is coordinated through the Director of Continuous Quality Improvement at the Corporate Headquarters. It is not publicly available.
Formal Support for Implementation
There is formal support available for implementation of Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model as listed below:
Support is provided through the program’s centralized administrative headquarters and includes programmatic, human relations, finance, communications, and continuous quality improvement components.
There are fidelity measures for Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model as listed below:
The Program Review scoring document evaluates the implementation on contract compliance, human resources, intensive staff training, information technology, continuous quality improvement and risk management, financial management, sibling foster care, assessments and planning, family team meetings, birth parent involvement, stable placements, sexual safety, family preservation services, and Medicaid/therapeutic services. Training for both Peer Reviewers and site representatives is conducted in a joint orientation session with the program’s Director of Continuous Quality Improvement.
Implementation Guides or Manuals
There are implementation guides or manuals for Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model as listed below:
The Neighbor to Family Program Manual is a comprehensive guide to the start-up of the sibling model. It is formatted by job position in the sibling model, and includes for each a formal job description, role-related policies and procedures, individual development (training) plan, reporting forms, performance review tools, satisfaction surveys, and selected readings (includes relevant research and agency background materials).
Research on How to Implement the Program
Research has not been conducted on how to implement Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model.
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research
This program is rated a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The practice must have at least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) establishing the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.
Child Welfare Outcome: Permanency
Testa, M., & Rolock, N. (1999). Professional foster care: A future worth pursuing? Child Welfare, 78(1), 108-124.
Type of Study:
Nonrandomized comparison group
Number of Participants: 33 homes, 159 children for target program
- Age — Not specified
- Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
- Gender — Not specified
- Status — Participants were children in family foster care.
Location/Institution: Chicago, IL
Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study compares administrative data from the Neighbor to Neighbor (now called Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model) professional foster care program with data from random samples of kinship and non-relative family foster care programs. The variables being compared were distance of placement from biological parents’ neighborhood, percentage of siblings placed or living in the same home, continuity of care, moves to more restrictive care, and permanency. The professional and kinship care groups outperformed other groups on stability, sibling placement, and moves to more restrictive care. The Neighbor to Neighbor program also had the highest level of children returned home, but fewer children placed in adoptions or permanent subsidized guardianships.
Length of postintervention follow-up: 1 year (placement and permanency data only).
Hunter College National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice and Permanency Planning at www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/siblings.html
Rolack, N. & Testa, M. (2003). The conservation of sibling ties in foster care: An evaluation of the Jane Addams Hull House Association's Neighbor to Neighbor program, Urbana, IL: School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana.
Rolack, N. & Testa, M. (1997). Jane Addams Hull House Association Neighbor to Neighbor program evaluation, Chicago, IL: School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago.
Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: January 2017
Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2016
Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: May 2007