Magazine menu

Thu, Jul

Affiliating for Growth

What Works & What Doesn't

Turning Points for Children reduces child abuse and improves the lives of children across Philadelphia.  We’ve been in this business for over 175 years.  You might not have heard about us because our longevity is a credit to many mergers of child welfare agencies in Philadelphia, most recently the 2008 merger of Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania with Philadelphia Society for Services to Children.  Although all of these mergers were intended to create a more financially stable organization, none created the financial stability and growth opportunities as our recent affiliation with Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC).

In 2011, Turning Points reviewed the child welfare landscape and saw the shift that Philadelphia’s Department of Human services was making to the foster care system.  Philadelphia essentially dismantled the foster care system in the city and reassembled it as Improving Outcomes for Children (“IOC”).  IOC is a system of 10 community-based foster care systems operated by private agencies.  The city would move from paying hundreds of vendors to provide child welfare services to paying ten agencies that would subcontract with vendors for the same or similar services.  Turning Points identified that having community-based systems would benefit children and families and decided to become one of the ten providers.  Turning Points was so committed to the process that it decided to submit seven applications in hopes of securing one contract.

In 2015, Turning Points now operates two of the community systems.  It would not have been possible without the additional infrastructure and financial stability that PHMC provided.  In 2011, our IRS filing 990 for the year ending 9/30/2011 showed total expenditures of $5,842,930.  For the fiscal year ending 6/30/2014, we reported total expenditures of $12,179,652.  This last filing reflects just a few months of operating under one of the new contracts – effectively doubling the size of the organization.  The number of employees has grown from about 100 to around 300 employees.

How did this happen?

As part of the analysis of operations in 2011, Turning Points identified that taking on this new line of business would require human capital, information technology and financial resources.  At the time, human resources was handled by the Chief Financial Officer – a task that would be impossible with the number of hires that would need to happen for this project.  We did not have significant experience working with subcontractors, which would be required to operate these community-based systems.  Additionally, Turning Points was suffering from the lack of investment in technology infrastructure.

Alone, the agency didn’t have the infrastructure or staff to manage these important areas.  A partnership was needed to support the growth and increase the quantity of quality services provided to children and families in Philadelphia.

In 2013, Turning Points became an affiliate under Public Health Management Corporation.  PHMC is one of the largest and most comprehensive public health institutes in the country, focusing on serving the Greater Philadelphia region.  The affiliation with PHMC offered Turning Points sophisticated IT and HR functions so Turning Points could focus on delivering core services.  It also allowed Turning Points to connect with other affiliates and programs under the PHMC umbrella to make connections in the community and grow community partnerships.

Soon after the affiliation with PHMC, the agency was well-positioned to successfully apply for these large city contracts.  In late summer of 2013, Turning Points was selected to provide child welfare services as Community Umbrella Agency 3, operating in Lower Northeast Philadelphia.  Through this award, Turning Points hired 90 new employees and gained $13Mm in new revenue in 2014, more than doubling our size and operational budget. 

In December 2013, Turning Points was awarded a second contract to operate as Community Umbrella Agency (CUA) 9 in Southwest Philadelphia.  This CUA adds $14.9Mm to our budget and an additional 100 new staff members to the agency.

Why Affiliations Work

The Turning Points affiliation with PHMC directly and positively affected our ability to gain two large city contracts that would not have been available to us otherwise.  These contracts were a new line of business in recent history, but actually took Turning Points back to its historical roots.  In its earliest days – the original date of incorporation was March 10, 1877 – there was no department of human services for the city of Philadelphia.  Child welfare was provided exclusively by private organizations and people, including the corporation’s predecessor.

The affiliation with PHMC elevated our growth and pushed Turning Points to function more efficiently through increased attention to information technology and human resources support, among other services.  PHMC is known for its expert fiscal and administrative management support services to the region’s nonprofits and local and state governments through direct and intermediary services.  These areas relieve some of the grueling management and administrative workload and allow the agency staff to focus on delivering high-quality services in our communities.

PHMC's strategic planning process, prior to the affiliation, identified that service lines and programs dedicated to children and youth would further the organization's program network.  The investments made by PHMC to the infrastructure made Turning Points stronger and better, as well as assisted in the success we have achieved in our work.

In 2011, Turning Points provided services to 2,700 families and 5,300 children through a variety of preventive programming and services for children and their families: In-Home Protective Services, Families and Schools Together (FAST), Time out for Teens and Tots (TTT), Family Finding, Family Empowerment Services, Kids N’ Kin.  Some of those programs have gone away because of the consolidation of the child welfare system in Philadelphia’s community-based system.  If Turning Points had not secured the two contracts, the ongoing viability of Turning Points’ services would be in question today.

Turning Points instead is thriving as the leading social service agency in Philadelphia assisting the needs of more than 6,000 men, women and children throughout the city.  We continue to offer invaluable programs and services, such as Families and Schools Together which currently serves schools throughout the city.  Additionally, Family Finding continues to connect kids aging out of the foster care system with families they had lost and is launching a program in Chester County.  We also offer parenting programs that serve teen moms, dads and adult parents in the CUAs and through other community partners in Philadelphia.  The two CUAs are in full operation managing over 1,000 cases and over 2,500 children as of August 2015.  Turning Points is regularly lauded by the Department of Human Services (DHS) for being the top performer in key benchmarks and for strong management.

New Affiliations Continue at Turning Points

In 2014, Turning Points aggressively started looking for behavioral health services to add to the suite of services offered to the families we serve.  So many families come to Turning Points that we would be able to resolve many of the underlying problems through behavioral health solutions.  Turning Points worked to affiliate with agencies that offered these services and got close to finalizing agreements but we were not able to secure these relationships.

In August 2015, the right affiliation came about when The Bridge affiliated with Turning Points for Children.  The Bridge is a youth opportunity program for adolescents and their families seeking to overcome substance abuse, mental health issues, truancy and other challenges.  It includes The Villa, which is a specialized residential program for youth with a history of trauma.  PHMC was instrumental in negotiating the transition of The Bridge from PHMC to Turning Points.  As part of PHMC’s mission to create and sustain healthier communities, PHMC looks to structure the organization in a way that allows PHMC the framework to integrate services, streamline programming and meet the needs of the communities.  This alignment helps create a more integrated and unified enterprise by wrapping additional services around the existing client base.

Turning Points now has the benefit of adding behavioral health services to its portfolio to complement its mission of providing the critical resources, life skills and supportive partnerships needed to create stronger families and raise children with the hope for brighter futures.  More specifically, Turning Points can refer clients to the resources available at The Bridge and The Villa residential and outpatient programs to better support children and families.  Through this alignment, The Bridge and The Villa are poised to grow their businesses and expand their impact to additional children and families.

Together, PHMC, Turning Points for Children, The Bridge and The Villa will work together to build on our individual missions as strong health and human service agencies to provide an even greater value proposition to the greater Philadelphia region.

There has been a push for more nonprofit mergers from funders and thought leaders, especially over the past fifteen years.  Looking at the trends in implementation and funding, smaller organizations are less likely to be able to survive.  Because Turning Points was aware of these trends, this inevitability was clear to our board and management and made affiliation with PHMC all the more important.  Additionally, taking risks and being adaptable to change is a bigger part of our culture because the calculated risks we have been able to take have been so fruitful to the communities we serve and the agency as a whole.  This is evidenced by the two CUAs we now operate and the wave of consolidation we have weathered.  We anticipate more consolidation and will continue to pursue additional affiliations as we look to provide more and better services for our clients.


At a time when funds are scarce to support the work of nonprofits not only in Pennsylvania, but across the country, and massive cuts to funding for services are being made, it has been essential for Turning Points to maintain current relationships, build new ones, and sometimes even join forces with other organizations. While some may look at the moves we’ve taken as being risky, we don’t take our decisions lightly.

Turning Points for Children's affiliation with PHMC made and makes strategic sense: Turning Points for Children brings direct experience in providing high-quality outcomes in child welfare services and parenting education, and PHMC brings its legacy of managing large, complex health and human service challenges, often as an intermediary.

The affiliation strengthens both organizations' missions and helps both organizations better serve the Philadelphia community by integrating programs and services to serve children and families in early childhood education, family treatment therapy and primary care and behavioral health.  As with all PHMC affiliations, Turning Points for Children benefits from economies of scale and new opportunities for staff career advancement, professional development and training.

With our rich history of mergers intended for stability and growth of the merged entity, Turning Points found the growth and stability through an affiliation with PHMC.  The benefits paid immediate dividends and the future will include more as we increase the quality and quantity of services we provide to families and children in Philadelphia.

Michael Vogel is CEO of Turning Points for Children. He has led Turning Points for Children through a period of dramatic growth. Turning Points is one of the oldest private social service agencies in the United States, tracing its roots back to 1835. All of the programs at Turning Points for Children focus on strengthening families to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.
Ashley Tobin is Program Development Director at Turning Points for Children, responsible for working with new affiliates and managing external relations. Prior to joining Turning Points she was a consultant at Work Better Consulting LLC. She is experienced in leading nonprofits through identifying and evaluating opportunities and building relationships and partnerships.
Karina Sellhorn is Development Associate at Turning Points for Children. She has worked in the Philadelphia nonprofit sector for close to 20 years and has managed some of the area’s highest profile events for agencies such as the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, Legacy Youth Tennis, Children Crisis Treatment Center, and currently Turning Points for Children.