Child welfare services have undergone many revisions and transformations since their initiation. Some scholars trace the beginning of child welfare in the United States to events such as a 1655 Massachusetts conviction for maltreatment leading to the death of a 12-year-old boy (Watkins, 1990). The predominant philosophy of child welfare has shifted over time from an early emphasis on child saving, to child protection, to family preservation. Building on family preservation, one of the current transformations in child welfare that is taking place in isolated pockets to whole states, is family-centered, neighborhood-based services. One force behind implementation of this transformation is the Family to Family Initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

This paper places family-centered, neighborhood-based child welfare services within the historical context of development of child welfare and within the recent move to reinvent human services (Adams & Nelson, 1995). Against this backdrop, a locality-based implementation of the Family to Family Initiative is described.