Return Home Early Project

Oneida County Return Home Early Project Report Click Here

In response to sky rocketing out of home placement numbers and increased financial strain on Oneida County New York, Kids Oneida was identified as the lead agency tasked with independently assessing all children in institutional care.  KO, whose vision is Keeping Families Together, was best suited to identify children in placement that would benefit from intensive community based services in their home communities as opposed to a more restrictive level of care.  These services, which already existed in the county, would serve as a less intense option for youth to continue their treatment once they have stabilized in out of home placement.  This collaborative effort with the Oneida County Department of Social Services (OCDSS), Kids Oneida, placement facilities, families, school districts, and community partners was dubbed the Return Home Early Project

At the time of the agreement in 2008, Oneida County had 140 youth at various Residential Treatment Centers and Group Homes across the state.  Many of these children had been court ordered as Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) or Juvenile Delinquents (JD) because of disruptive behaviors at home, school or community. Lengthy court ordered residential placements often resulted in many of these youth continuing to languish in residential care when they could have been better served in a lower level of care or even home, generating unnecessary cost to the county.  Through strong advocacy, collaboration, and family empowerment, children that could be served at home, in lower levels of care (i.e., foster care), and closer to home were pursued by the Return Home Early Project.

After four plus years into its endeavor, the Return Home Early project has identified and returned 139 children from Oneida County that benefited from a discharge early from placement saving Oneida County over 14,000 days of care.  The total number of children placed at the RTC and Group Home levels of care has decreased by 50% since the inception of the Return Home Early Project indicating a philosophical shift in the appropriateness of placement treatment versus community and home based services.  The Return Home Early Project has provided an approximate $4.32 million in cost avoidance as a result.

Later in 2008, Kids Oneida, partnered with Herkimer County DSS to develop the Kids Herkimer program with the same mission as a result of the success of the program in Oneida County.  With similar success, the Kids Herkimer program has been responsible for returning 39 kids home early by nearly 6,400 days amounting to a net cost avoidance to tax payers of $1.6 million.

In 2011, KO was recognized nationally by the Building Bridges initiative as a model program supporting financial strategies to effectively prevent and return youth from placement. Also in 2011, Kids Herkimer was honored to have its innovative Return Home Early Project recognized by The White House Council for Community Solutions as a collaborative effort with the Herkimer County DSS.   Kids Oneida has consistently demonstrated that positive outcomes can be achieved despite significant trauma, mental illness, and psychosocial stressors through its strength and team based approach.

“The Return Home Early Project helped me to get my life back and get on track. I was able to get back into school, get a job, and will be starting college next week.”
- TT

The level of compassion, support, concrete guidance, and above all, sincere interest displayed toward this case far exceeded every expectation we had.”
- RK

“Kids Oneida Return Home Early Project is fantastic!”
- ML