Cuyahoga County Partnering for Family Success Program

Nation’s First County-Level Pay for Success Program Aimed to Reconnect Foster Children with Caregivers in Stable, Affordable Housing

Families in need should have access to programs that address their unique challenges, are proven to work, and create improved accountability for government spending.

The County of Cuyahoga, Ohio, encompassing the greater Cleveland area, launched the nation’s first county-level Pay for Success (PFS) project in partnership with FrontLine Service, a comprehensive continuum of care service provider for homeless persons in Ohio.

The Partnering for Family Success Program, the first PFS project in the combined areas of homelessness and child welfare, delivered intensive 12-15 month treatment to 135 families over five years from 2015 through 2019 to reduce the length of stay in out-of-home foster care placement for children whose families are homeless.


The Project

  • Homeless families with children placed in out-of-home foster care present a unique challenge for Cuyahoga County. The agencies serving these families were not previously integrated in a way that allowed for the identification of families who are experiencing homelessness and involvement in the child welfare system.
  • The result was that children with homeless caregivers spent considerably more time in out-of-home foster care than children with housing secure caregivers. This extended time in the child welfare system has historically resulted in poor outcomes for the County’s most vulnerable families and led to higher costs to the County.
  • FrontLine’s services are designed to reduce the time children spend in out-of-home foster care by stabilizing the family’s situation and increasing family reunification success. In partnership with the Program’s housing partners, FrontLine linked each caregiver to housing and delivered a Critical Time Intervention (CTI), an evidence-based homelessness transition therapy. CTI helps vulnerable families that are experiencing homelessness to slowly reconnect to community support networks and settle successfully in newly attained housing. In addition, CTI was paired with age-appropriate, evidence-based trauma services that are proven to strengthen healthy and secure caregiver-child relationships.
  • Both private funders and philanthropic organizations provided a total of $4 million in upfront funding for the Program.

Additional Information

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Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Cuyahoga County was contracted to make success payments if the independent evaluator determined that children enrolled in the Program (the treatment group) avoided more days in out-of-home foster care compared to children placed in a comparison group that is not served by FrontLine. The Project Manager was tasked with distributing any success payments from Cuyahoga County to the funders.


Service Provider

Frontline Service

Frontline Service is a nonprofit agency that operates the most comprehensive continuum of care for homeless people in Ohio, serving more than 20,000 adults and children each year. As the service provider for this program, FrontLine linked families to housing and used Critical Time Intervention, an evidence-based model, to provide emotional and practical support during the critical transition of leaving a homeless shelter to becoming stably housed. FrontLine also provided age-appropriate and evidence-based trauma services that strengthen healthy and secure caregiver-child relationships. Through its services, FrontLine worked to stabilize families and empower the County to grant reunification decisions to families sooner and allow children to exit foster care earlier.


Project Manager / Fiscal Agent

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. is a national organization that creates and advocates for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to jobs, good schools, health care and transportation. As the project manager and fiscal agent for the Program, Enterprise disbursed upfront payments from the funders to FrontLine and for other project costs through Cuyahoga PFS, LLC, an affiliated entity. In this capacity, Enterprise was also tasked with disbursing any success payments from Cuyahoga County to the funders. Enterprise monitored the Program to ensure that it ran according to the PFS contract and worked to resolve issues throughout the life of the project.

Other Organizations

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Housing Providers
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and Emerald Development & Economic Network, Inc..

Referral Partners
The County’s Office of Homelessness, The Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, and the County’s Division of Children and Family Services.

Government Advisor & Transaction Coordinator
Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc.

Independent Evaluator
The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.