Helping kids find their forever families is a top priority for us at FosterAdopt Connect. Children often linger in foster care for months or even years, which is why we operate two successful programs geared toward placing children in safe, loving homes.
30 Days to Family®
30 Days to Family is an intense, short-term intervention designed to increase the number of children placed with family or friends within the first 30 days of children entering foster care.
Many of the children served through the program are infants. Because babies don’t already have established relationships with family, it’s more difficult to get them placed with relatives prior to Children’s Division taking custody.
“Babies are more vulnerable to harm than older children and they don’t have words to communicate, so there’s a lack of trust in the safety of a relative home,” says Jennifer Townsend, Vice President of Children and Youth Programs. “Relative placements are often not prioritized because it’s easy to think about the baby as a disconnected human being without ties, but they still have a biological family, and ideally they’ll return there.”
Reunification with family is always the goal in foster care, which is why Katy Perry, Recruitment Programs Manager, is advocating for kinship and relative resources by providing education on its importance.
“We do a lot of networking and reaching out to family members,” says Perry. “Just recently, we attended the funeral of a child who had passed so we could network with the family and get his siblings placed with a family member. That’s just a testament of how far we’re willing to go for our families.”
Extreme Family Finding™
Extreme Family Finding puts a team of recruiters and private investigators to work finding extended family members and other relatives willing to care for children most at-risk of aging out of foster care. The program caters to the highest needs foster children, mainly older children and teenagers with behavioral, medical, or mental health issues.
“By the time they come to us, they’ve had a lot of trauma,” explains Perry. “For high needs kids, our program is the end of the road. They deserve to be surrounded by love and support, so we find that for them, whether that’s through general recruitment, a family member, or an adoptive resource.”
Kids with behaviors resulting from trauma need more supports than other kids, which is why Extreme Family Finding is implementing a new method called the 3-5-7 Training Model. This method involves having conversations with kids about what they want to see in an adoptive resource, such as their preferences, triggers, and things that will help them flourish in the home.
“We’re hoping that having these tough conversations to prepare kids for adoption will help bolster our retention rate of kids staying in placements,” says Perry.
While 30 Days to Family cases are resolved quickly, Extreme Family Finding cases can take years to resolve. Preparation, licensing, and placement take time, and families can’t adopt prior to six months of placement. The COVID-19 pandemic has begun to affect Extreme Family Finding cases, preventing recruiting efforts and causing adoption numbers to fall.
“When the pandemic started, our outcomes were stellar for the first year and a half, but now we’re seeing more of an impact on our cases,” says Townsend. “The biggest barrier has been not being able to proceed with in-person visits, which are essential to moving forward with permanency.”
Despite roadblocks, our 30 Days to Family and Extreme Family Finding teams continue to develop innovative solutions and remain dedicated to finding kids the homes they deserve. Thank you for supporting our programs, our community, and the foster youth we serve!