Program Spotlight: Children and Family Safety Net Services

In July of last year, the Capital Region began a partnership with San Joaquin County to provide Safety Net Services (SNS), a program that offers support to help mitigate the factors families experience leading to child abuse and neglect.

San Joaquin County has been offering this program to its residents for more than 20 years but has contracted with Pacific Clinics for two years to offer four new areas of services under the program: Differential Response Services, Case Management/Concrete Services and Post Reunification Services. See definitions of these services at the end of this article.

In addition to partnering with Pacific Clinics, the county also partners with the Child Abuse Prevention Council, El Concilio, and PREVAIL (formerly known as the Women’s Center) to provide SNS.

Considered voluntary, the program is an intervention before Child Protective Services (CPS) gets involved, according to Lanie Chang Xiong, associate clinical director of both SNS and FCAS in the Capital Region. A lot of the referrals to SNS come from reported possible cases of emotional abuse or neglect; domestic violence; fear of suicide or violation of restraining orders, she says. Many, too, involve non-English speaking families.

The program also provides services to families involved with the county’s Children’s Services Bureau, with a focus on Spanish-speaking and African American communities.

“While blindly knocking on someone’s door can be intimidating,” says Tami Regalia, SNS program supervisor, “the most rewarding aspect is when people are happy to see you and say they need counseling – and when they are relieved it’s not CPS.”

Currently, the program receives referrals through San Joaquin County CPS and Family Services not deemed critical for an in-person visit from CPS.

Though SNS is new to the Capital Region, Pacific Clinics has been offering similar services since 2004 to Santa Clara County and Contra Costa County in the form of Differential Response Services.

Definition of Services

Differential Response Services: an in-person visit to provide an assessment and resources to families at risk of child abuse or neglect that do not rise to the level of county involvement.

Case Management/Concrete Services: regular visits/contact to assist referred families with a specific need that will lead to the return of a child to the home or preserve a child in the home.

Post Reunification Services: regular contact with the family to ensure stable transition of children back into the home and prevention of recurrence of maltreatment.