The Family Finding Program is designed to help a child and their family to make decisions in many critical areas such as to avoid out of home placement or to plan for the child’s return home from an out of home placement. Relatives and kin of the children are located and engaged to connect each child with a family so that every child may benefit from the lifelong connections that only a family provides. The Family Finding model seeks to build or maintain the child’s lifetime family support network for all children who are disconnected or at risk of disconnection through placement outside of their home and community.
Family Finding Program
Every Child Deserves A Loving Family
Family Finding Program
The essential elements of the Family Finding model include:
- Urgency: Family Finding views meaningful, supportive, permanent relationships with loving adults to be an essential need that is closely tied to youth safety. Family Finding asks practitioners to urgently pursue these relationships for lonely youth by assertively engaging family and strongly challenging the structural barriers to developing or strengthening these relationships.
- Expanded definition of permanency: Although physical legal permanence is an explicit outcome for most cases, Family Finding defines permanency as a state of permanent belonging, which includes knowledge of personal history and identity, as well as a range of involved and supportive adults rather than just one legal resource.
- Effective relative search: Family Finding employs a variety of effective and immediate techniques to first identify no fewer than 40 relatives or other meaningful connections for each youth. The number 40 serves to create a large group of people from which to form a smaller tight-knit, unconditionally committed permanency team.
- Family-driven processes: Family Finding recognizes that families are disempowered by the placement of relative children outside of the family system, and it seeks to remediate that harm through identifying the strengths and assets of each family member and facilitating processes through which families are able to effectively support their relative children.
- Development of multiple plans: The Family Finding process will result in not just one plan for legal permanency, but multiple plans that are each able to meet the needs of disconnected youth. No fewer than three plans are developed and evaluated by family members to ensure that they are realistic, sustainable, and safe.
- Well-defined and tactical procedures: Family Finding begins first with the careful preparation and alignment of current team members in order to pursue the seven steps of the Family Finding model.
While Family Finding is a strongly values-based model, it also has clear and definable goals and activities that are easily tracked with a fidelity tool. The seven steps include:
- Engagement: Engage youth and, when appropriate, parents or other important adults in identifying potential and desired network members from the family and community.
- Searching: Build on the work done through diligent searches by using the findings of the searches and notices provided to relatives to begin the engagement. If this has not been done, the Family Finder should undertake an expansive, worldwide search for adults, siblings, and others that may provide resources related to the goal statements.
- Preparation: Convene a preparation conference with possible network members, caregivers, and system representatives with decision making authority and conduct a Blended Perspective Meeting.
- Planning and Decision Making: The focus on planning and decision making is on developing with a sense of urgency a commitment by participants to offer frequent and meaningful support to youth in care. The commitments Family Finder’s seek from participants is that of advocate, a voice of hope, a person who offers compassion and wisdom based on their own experiences and gifts.
- Lifetime Network: If a commitment by the caseworker or agency representative and the parents, youth, relatives, and other important adults has been made to the formation of a permanent network of relationships then a Lifetime Network has been created. The network should meet with the caseworker and other support professionals as often as necessary to coordinate the support and care of the young person.
- Healing and Development: The single most healing and protective long-term experience of healing that can be offered to youth in care is that of safe, permanent, meaningful, persistent, affectionate, and active care and support by a committed community of parent(s), adults, siblings, and friends. This step is expected to be continuously considered and prioritized in all Lifetime Network meetings until the youth exits the formal system of care and a permanent parent assumes responsibility for the child.
- Legal Permanency: The caseworker and other network members must continue efforts to create an opportunity for each youth to have a safe, legally permanent parent. Network members should be organized to assist in creating permanency plans and recruiting resources. The network should be organized to provide active supports and encouragement for any person who becomes a permanent parent to the youth.
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