Health & Human Rights program issues final foster care evaluation

December 22, 2022

The Health and Human Rights program at the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center has issued the final, comprehensive report on the evaluation of the Family and Me (FAM) foster care pilot program, an initiative developed by multiple stakeholders under the leadership of Freedom Forward to serve the unique needs of youth impacted by commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) in San Francisco. The publication of this report signals the end of the program's pilot phase and the start of FAM 2.0, which the Health and Human Rights program will evaluate after its launch in 2023. This evaluation report synthesizes learning from three previous reports, presents key findings from the final pilot evaluation, and offers recommendations for local and state policymakers and practitioners working to better address CSE of children and youth.

FAM is a new model of family-based foster care pilot for youth who are experiencing or are at risk of CSE. It was collaboratively developed in 2019 by Freedom Forward, the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women (DOSW), Huckleberry Youth Programs, and WestCoast Children’s Clinic, with ongoing input from youth and adults with lived experience in foster are and / or CSE. FAM is one component of the San Francisco Safety, Opportunity, Lifelong relationships (SF SOL) Collaborative, a 3.5 year initiative funded by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to develop a continuum of care options for youth impacted by CSE and trafficking in San Francisco. Researchers from the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley conducted an in-depth evaluation of the pilot with reports issued every six months to adapt and improve the program. This report was written by Julie Freccero, Audrey Taylor, Sarah Chynoweth, and Justine DeSilva. 

Key recommendations include expanding caregiver outreach and public educational efforts to destigmatize CSE, addressing housing requirements and other key barriers to foster caregiver certification, and bringing a simplified FAM model to CSE-affected youth already in foster care placements to improve the reach and sustainability of the model. The authors also recommend developing a model of harm reduction-focused emergency housing to meet the immediate needs of this community of youth as they prepare to transition to a more structured home setting, which will be piloted in the next phase of SF SOL.

The Health and Human Rights Program at the Human Rights Center promotes the health and protection of marginalized populations affected by conflict, forced displacement, and violence. Through applied research and technical assistance, we partner with local and international organizations to develop new tools, guidance, and evidence-based interventions.