Why would you look for family members when the child was removed from the home?
Children are removed from their home when it is determined that their situations or surroundings are unsafe, and would benefit living elsewhere. This does not mean that their entire family is unsafe, nor that they should be separated from immediate or extended family indefinitely. Family members are often more willing to provide a permanent home and adopt a child relative, as well as keep the child connected with safe people who love them.
Who do you look for?
Everyone! During the Family Finding process volunteers search for relatives, friends, past foster parents, former caseworkers and more. Even if someone is unable to provide a home or be a stable resource for a child, they may know someone who can, and may be able to provide such information.
What if no one is able to adopt the child?
Even if no relative or kith connection identified is able to provide a home for the child, they can likely provide other resources. Individuals may be able to visit with the child, maintain phone contact, become a respite care provider, and more. Studies show that children who maintain contact with safe, loving family members have a greater chance at success. To find a permanent home for a child if a relative is unable to adopt, Extensive Team Recruitment
methods are utilized.
What happens after you contact family members?
After family members and others are contacted by the Family Finding Volunteer, the volunteer, Permanency Director, child's caseworker, and DHS Family Finding Coordinator have a meeting to discuss what connections have been contacted and what those conversations have entailed. At that meeting (called the Family Meeting Staffing), a date is set for a Family Meeting, and it is determined what connections will be invited to a Family Meeting.
A Family Meeting is a meeting between the AFFEC volunteer, the Permanency Director, the child's case staff, the DHS Family Finding Coordinator, and the child's family members and kith connections. This meeting focuses on the child's needs, and how those at the table can meet those needs.
After a Family Meeting occurs, AFFEC representatives follow up with family members, connections, and case staff, for a minimum of one year to ensure that the youth establishes emotional and legal permanency.
What is a "kin" connection?
"Kin" refers to family members and relatives of a youth. This includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, step relatives, siblings, and the parents. We look for kin connections so that the child can be cared for by family members and reconnect with loved ones. Kin connections can provide support, a home, and be a resource for family reunification. Studies show that children have a better chance at success
when living with family members.
What is a "kith" connection?
"Kith" refers to close neighbors, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, and other connected individuals who may be close to a child. We look for such connections because people connected in this way can support the child and the family, and often love the youth. Kith connections can be some of the strongest connections for family and children, and can often assist in finding more family members, visiting with the child, provide a home, and more.