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A Roadmap for State and Local Child Serving Agencies in developing Centers of Excellence (COE)

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, and the Center for Innovative Practices at Case Western Reserve University are pleased to share Building Cross-System Implementation Centers: A Roadmap for State and Local Child Serving Agencies in developing Centers of Excellence (COE) (click Here to download the full Issue Brief).

Over the past decade, state and local governments have strived to make evidence-based practices (EBPs) and promising/ research-informed practices and frameworks more available to children, youth and families, in part to increase the likelihood that the services provided are effective and a good use of public funds. At the same time, they have looked for ways to systematically support the implementation and ongoing quality and effectiveness of these interventions. Cross system implementation centers, often termed COEs, can provide states and local governments with effective options for developing and supporting child- and family-serving systems that utilize evidence-based and promising practices within their service arrays.

The roadmap provides context on how and why COEs have been established, the core functions of a COE, and the key decision points to consider when developing a COE.

The Institute is proud to manage two pioneering initiatives aimed at ending and preventing youth homeless in Maryland:
  • Youth REACH MD is Maryland's first ever survey and census of youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness. The innovative pilot will identify the number of unaccompanied youth and young adults ages 24 years or younger who are not living with a parent or guardian and who do not have a fixed, stable, permanent place to call home. The count took place in October, 2015 in Annapolis/Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Hagerstown/Washington County, Prince George's County and Somerset/Wicomico/Worcester counties. For more information and updates on the findings, visit, and follow #icount.
    The results of the first count now are available in the Phase 2 report.
  • Thrive@25 is a $2 million implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children and Families, Children's Bureau to end and prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with current or prior child welfare involvement. Thrive@25 is the second phase of work that was started under a 2-year Children's Bureau planning grant awarded to the SSW in 2013 and is led by The Institute, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Talbot County Department of Social Services on behalf of the five local departments of social services on the rural Mid-Shore, and the National Center on Housing and Child Welfare. For more information on Thrive@25, please visit

Want more information or resources on youth homelessness? Check out the following links below:
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN): In recognition of National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, NCTSN has consolidated a wealth of information and resources, particularly as they relate to the intersection of homelessness and trauma.
  • Opening Doors: Led by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness sets the goal of ending homelessness for youth by 2020. In 2012, USICH published their Framework to End Youth Homelessness as part of this effort.
  • Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center: Built for youth and by youth, the YES Drop-In Center is Baltimore City's first and only organization that provides urgently-needed direct services specifically to homeless youth. They are always on the look-out for volunteers and donations. Click the link to find out how to get involved.
  • The National Network for Youth: This is the nation's leading organization advocating at the federal level to educate the public and policymakers about the needs of homeless and disconnected youth. Click the link to get involved!
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Program: The Family & Youth Services Bureau, housed within the Administration for Children & Families at the US Department of Health & Human Services, supports an array of programs to serve and protect homeless youth through their Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.
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