What is your mission statement?
We assure safe and loving permanent families for children in foster care by influencing transformative improvements in child welfare policy, practice and organizational strength.
What is your yearly budget and how many paid employees do you have?
Annual budget $110,000; 1.5 FTEs (plus contract staff as needed)
What is your nonprofit’s history?
Mission Focused Solutions was founded in 2008 by Gail Johnson Vaughan to assist child welfare organizations to improve their ability to achieve permanent families for children and youth in foster care.
Before founding Mission Focused Solutions, she served as executive director of Nevada County-based Sierra Forever Families (1985-2007) where her leadership not only developed a practice model that achieved adoptive families for children and teens long assumed to be “unadoptable,” but also played a major role in transforming California’s child welfare system. After 22 years with the agency she founded Mission Focused Solutions to focus on what she does best, influencing transformative improvements in the Child Welfare System.
In December 2011 Gail received national recognition for her work as a Purpose Prize Fellow (Each year Civic Ventures selects Purpose Prize winners and fellows out of a field of 1400+ nominees, people over age 60 whose “encore careers” are making extraordinary contributions in critical issues of our times). That recognition opened Gail’s eyes to the uniqueness and importance of her work invoked a sense of awesome responsibility. She knew she held a key to unlocking the doors to permanent families for children in foster care across the county. The size of the task of disseminating that key was clearly too large for a single staff person.
The year 2012 was a time of preparing to take the organization to the next level so that more public and private child welfare organizations could improve their ability to give children in foster care the permanent families they need and deserve. The nonprofit moved from an “around-the-kitchen-table” start-up with one staff member to an organization with an office, volunteer, and growing staff. Additional strong board members were recruited from across the region. Strategic and business plans were developed. Fund raising was improved resulting in increased individual and foundation contributions to support MFS’ capacity building plans.
Also in 2012 Mission Focused Solutions launched Project Chrysalis working with four nonprofit foster family agencies in Nevada and Placer Counties to transform the way they recruited resource families to help children reunify with their birth families while also committing to adopt the child if the family was unable to heal enough to care for the child. Project Chrysalis produced much needed additional resource families to serve local children and built capacity in the participating agencies to continue to build the ranks of qualified resource families.
The year also saw growth in their major initiative, the dissemination of an original funding methodology that shows counties and states how to improve permanency outcomes for youth in foster care by reinvesting and leveraging savings achieved through successful youth permanency and family finding services.
Who is your primary audience?
Public and private child welfare organization that want to improve permanence outcomes for children and teens in foster care. Although the primary focus is in California, MFS is disseminating the work nationwide
Clients served: Children and teens in foster care in California and beyond
List the biggest achievements in your nonprofit’s history :
• Implementation of funding methodology that allows Sacramento, Nevada, and Placer Counties to provide effective specialized youth permanency services at no net cost to the counties
• Increase in effectiveness of local foster family agencies to recruit and retain qualified resource families for children in foster care.
List the biggest challenges you face:
• We need to create a new organizational identity/name that reflects the work done. Our current name gives no clue of the work we do, this is a deficit
• We need to recruit additional qualified board members who are excited about making a significant national impact on improved child welfare outcomes.
• Secure new financial resources to take our organization to scale
What is your No. 1 short-term goal for the next year?
To introduce the concept to a minimum of six additional jurisdictions in the first quarter of 2013 with 50% committing to take active steps toward implementation of the methodology by the 3rd quarter of 2013.
What is your No. 1 long-term goal for the next three years?
To add a minimum of two additional jurisdictions to the funnel every quarter thereafter with at least one county starting an implementation plan each quarter.
What is the best way a person interested in your organization could help?
There are a number of ways people can help depending on their skills and interests:
• Volunteers; administrative tasks; social media support; data collection and fiscal analysis of public sector funding streams and cost saving methodologies; governance; board and committee service; pro bono services; marketing/branding assistance in developing new organizational name; website redesign; financial support; large and small gifts all make a difference in our ability to improve the lives of children in foster care
Success story: How your organization has benefitted the community?
Our resource family recruitment and retention project, Project Chrysalis, helped local foster family agencies identify and address barrier beliefs that prevented them from effectively recruiting and retaining local resource families for Nevada County children. As a result of the project fewer local children will need to be placed out of county and away from natural supports.
Mission Focused Solutions is a member of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which provides the weekly Know Your Nonprofit feature. You can learn more about The Center for Nonprofit Leadership online at www.CNLSierra.org. The Center is on Facebook www.facebook.com/NevadaCountyNonProfitLeadership and Twitter @NevCoNonprofits.