Circle Around Families
East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond, Indiana
According to the proposal, the Consortium set three major goals for the project: Parent empowerment and participation through the creation of a parent organization, since none existed in Northwest Indiana; Creation of a seamless community infrastructure through interagency collaboration, blended funding mechanisms, and a wraparound service process; and Enhanced mental health services for children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance through the expansion of the traditional and nontraditional array of services.
Circle Around Families now serves all communities in Lake County, Indiana. Rollout of the project began with enrollment of families in the Initiative in November 2000 in Hammond. Enrollment of families in East Chicago and Gary began in September 2001. In 05, the project’s last grant year, enrollment was opened to children living anywhere in the County. Lake County contains a land area of 501 square miles with a population of roughly 490,000 people. The largest of Lake County’s 19 cities and towns are Gary (population of 103,000) and Hammond (population of 83,000). Hammond, East Chicago, and Gary are culturally diverse areas; each of the three cities has its unique ethnic and racial mix. The primary target population of Circle Around Families is children between the ages of 6 and 18 years who live in Lake County, Indiana, who are diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance, who have had difficulties at home, school and the community for 6 months or longer, are at risk of out-of-home placement, and are involved in or need two or more human service systems. In 05, the service criteria have been expanded as a result of a grant from the Division for Families and Children (the child welfare agency). Circle Around Families now accepts referral of children from the child welfare system who may not be diagnosed as seriously emotionally disturbed but who, nonetheless, experience emotional or behavioral difficulties. As of September 2005, 110 families were enrolled in Circle Around Families. The average length of stay in the program is 13 months. Some children are in the program for 3–9 months and the more complex cases can take as long as 18 months.