Our Community Our Kids Expands into Case Management
In 2020, the Fort Worth nonprofit begins working with biological families of kids in foster care.
Since 2014, Our Community Our Kids (OCOK) has transformed the foster care system in North Texas and improved outcomes for kids from Erath, Hood, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell and Tarrant counties. The work to date has focused on strengthening local capacity to meet the needs of children within their local communities. Now OCOK is taking the next evolutionary step by assuming case management responsibilities for the biological families of children in foster care.
This is a big step for the community-based care movement in Texas, because it marks the first time a nonprofit child welfare organization has had the opportunity to work directly with biological families, work traditionally performed exclusively by state workers. Under OCOK’s new contract, existing Child Protective Services workers will transition to OCOK in order to maintain continuity of children’s workers.
The OCOK team is energized and excited about the opportunity to work directly with biological families because it means service planning and coordination for both children and families can be more tightly integrated, resulting in better decision-making and quicker permanency for children.
With the shift in case management responsibilities, slated to begin March 2020, OCOK will also assume management of kinship care, in which a child is placed with relatives rather than licensed foster parents. This means the full continuum of substitute care and the full continuum of family services will be coordinated by a single contractor, OCOK, accountable for improving quality and delivering specific, measurable outcomes. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services will retain responsibility for investigations, removal decisions, and licensing.
OCOK is a division of ACH Child and Family Services, a nonprofit organization founded in 1915 and dedicated to protecting children and preserving families in North Texas. OCOK oversees a regional network of 37 child-placing organizations and more than a hundred other service providers. Together with these organizations and many other stakeholders and community partners, OCOK has led the way in pioneering community-based care in Texas. Now OCOK looks forward to the challenges and opportunities inherent in this new chapter of community-based care.
For more information, visit the state’s Community-Based Care page