Provides an interview-based account of the evolution of a complex reform initiative designed to vigorously engage the community and social service professionals in order to protect children from abuse and neglect. Poverty, addiction issues, and unemployment characterized the District of Columbia?s Ward Seven, and its welfare system was placed into court-appointed receivership. In 1994, the District?s child welfare system collapsed and reform initiatives were attempted through the Rebuilding Communities Initiative (RCI). This program required neighborhood collaboratives to take substantial roles in the design and delivery of child welfare and family support services. The Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO), in partnership with the receiver, developed a model which included: (1) development of a comprehensive continuum of care, (2) development of community leaders capable of providing service delivery, (3) strengthening of families to reduce risk to children, and (4) managing a mapping system to promote community assets and resources. The end result was the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative (ERFSC), which after initial difficulties emerged with new leadership, engaged community partners, and gained the trust of constituents. A video provides a case study and interviews with social workers who describe the transition from collapse to success. (IP)