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Family Finding
What Have We Learned?
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Agenda
Opening/Introduction to Family Finding.…Bob Friend
What Do Recent Evaluations Tell Us? ..........Karin Malm
Lessons Applied …………………………………………..Melissa Mollard
Family Finding Learning and Lessons ….…..Kevin Campbell
Panel Questions
Audience Questions
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Please submit questions in the chat box to the organizer at the
bottom right of your screen.
Webinar Objectives
 Share a summary of Family Finding research to date
 Identify the lessons learned from current grant work and
the connection with family centered practices
 Examine the foundational questions underlying the
development of Family Finding practice and its intended
impacts
 Create a vibrant conversation to explore continuing
questions and research
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We must remember that every
single day in out-of-home care is a
crisis in the life of that child
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The Family Finding Mission is to…
connect each child with a family, so that every child
may benefit from the lifelong connections only a
family provides.
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Bringing Family Finding to the Front-End
 Family Finding was originally developed to attend to the
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most lonely and disconnected children
In response to our mission, our attention has been drawn
to the needs of children prior to their entry into care
Family Finding focus changes when the goal is to prevent
removal
A rapidly moving timeline changes the mechanics of
Family Finding process
We are currently exploring Front-End adaptations to the
Family Finding model to address this urgent need
Flexibility of the Family Finding Approach
By clearly establishing the essential elements present in the
Family Finding intervention, Family Finding can be
effectively blended with a number of other family centered
strategies and interventions, including:
 Family Group Counseling/Family Group Decision Making
 Signs of Safety/Safety Organized Practice
 Trauma-informed practices
 Grief & loss work, e.g. Darla Henry’s 3-5-7 Model
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Core Beliefs Inherent to Family Finding
 Every child has a family, and they can be found if we try
 Loneliness can be devastating, even dangerous, and is
experienced by most children in out of home care
 A meaningful connection to family helps a child develop a
sense of belonging
 The single factor most closely associated with positive
outcomes for children is meaningful, lifelong connections
to family
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Goals of Family Finding
 Support foster youth in developing meaningful and enduring
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connections with adults and their siblings, cousins, etc.
Support youth in developing a healthy sense of identity and
increased sense of belonging through connection with family
and loved ones
Ensure a safe and valued space for families to participate and
have a voice in the decision-making process.
Provide family members with the opportunity to meet their
needs within their family system
Provide young adults emerging from care with a devoted support
team that will assist them to live safely and productively within
their communities
The Six Steps of the Family Finding Model
 Discovery
 Engagement
 Planning
 Decision Making
 Evaluation
 Follow-up on Supports
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Essential Components of the Family
Finding Model
 Urgency
 Aligning professional and family resources to achieve
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permanency
An expanded definition of permanency
Effective relative search
Family-driven processes
Development of multiple plans
Well-defined activities and strategies to engage family
Definition of Permanency
Both a process and a result that includes involvement of the
youth as a participant or leader in finding a permanent
connection with at least one committed adult who provides:
- A safe, stable, and secure parenting relationship
- Love
- Unconditional commitment
- Lifelong support in the context of reunification, a legal adoption, or
guardianship, where possible
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Offering the legal rights and social status of full family membership, in
which the youth has the opportunity to maintain contacts with
important persons including brothers and sisters cite
© California Permanency for Youth Project (CPYP), 2007
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Family Finding:
What Do Recent Evaluations Tell Us?
Karin Malm, Child Welfare Program Area Director
August 15, 2013
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www.childtrends.org  Twitter/childtrends 
www.facebook.com/childtrends:
Evaluations Recently Completed and Soon
to Wrap Up
• Federal Family Connection Discretionary Grants included
evaluations of 12 Family Finding programs (cross-site
report now available)
• Child Trends’ evaluations
– San Francisco Family Finding targeting children new to
out-of-home care (completed)
– North Carolina’s Family Finding efforts in 9 counties,
targeting children 10+ years of age with few/no
connections to family members (results not yet
available)
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Family Connections Family Finding Evaluations
• Grantees serving children in care for extended periods of
time had more difficulty placing children with relatives
and/or moving them to permanency than grantees serving
children new to out-of-home care
• Among 4 grantees implementing an experimental design:
– 2 found improved placement outcomes for children in
treatment group compared to children in the control
group
– 2 found no significant differences in placement
outcomes for children in treatment and control groups
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Family Connections Family Finding Evaluations
• Findings regarding average length of time in care were
inconclusive as to whether family finding reduced
length of stay of children served
• Qualitative evidence from one grantee site indicated
that family finding may divert placement into out-ofhome care
• Approximately three quarters of the children served
experienced increased family connections or had kinfocused permanency plans developed
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Family Finding in San Francisco
• San Francisco County had experience providing family
finding to older youth who were disconnected from
their families
• Seneca Family of Agencies provided family finding to
children first entering out-of-home care
• Hypothesized that providing family finding at this early
stage would increase the likelihood of reunification,
increase the likelihood of the child being placed with
kin, and decrease time to permanency
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San Francisco Impact Evaluation Approach
• Experimental design that randomly assigned
children to receive family finding services
(treatment) or services as usual (control)
• Intake occurred for a period of 25 months (Sept
2008 to Feb 2011) and administrative data was
extracted 12 months following the end of intake
• Measure impact of treatment on child permanency,
specifically reunification, placement with relatives,
and exit from care (using administrative data)
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San Francisco Evaluation Sample
Total Treatment
Control
Enrolled in study
239
116
123
Received data on key outcome
224
111
113
Served by FF while in foster care
204
102
102
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San Francisco Research Questions:
Are children referred to family finding more likely than
children in the control group…
…to be reunified?
…to be placed with relatives?
…to have a permanency goal related to returning
home?
…to avoid placement disruptions?
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San Francisco Descriptive Findings
100%
Treatment
80%
60%
Control
67% *
57%
47%
50%
66%
48% 52%
47% **
40%
20%
0%
Reunified
(n = 204)
*: p<.10 (*), p< .05 (**), p< .01 (***)
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>=2 placements
(n=202)
Latest placement
was with relative
(n=202)
Latest goal is
related to
returning home
(n=182)
San Francisco Descriptive Findings
100%
Treatment
83%
80%
70% *
60%
40%
18%
20%
10%
0%
Discharged from foster care during
study period
(n = 204)
*: p<.10 (*), p< .05 (**), p< .01 (***)
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Re-entered foster care, among those
discharged
(n=156)
Reunification outcomes, by experimental group
membership
100%
90%
80%
43%
53%
70%
Not reunified
60%
50%
Reunified w/ subsequent
reentry
40%
30%
20%
43%
42%
10%
Reunified w/ NO
subsequent reentry
0%
Treatment
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Control
San Francisco Evaluation: Review of Findings
Compared to children not receiving family finding,
children receiving family finding were:
• No more likely to exit to reunification
• No more likely to be placed with relatives
• More likely to re-enter care after reunification
• More likely to have the last goal as reunification
• More likely to exit care, but no more likely to reenter overall
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San Francisco Evaluation: Implications and
Conclusions
• The differing directives and timelines of the Family
Finding specialists versus the caseworkers may have
been a barrier in achieving impacts on reunification
• Challenges to full model implementation suggest that
more research is needed to determine whether and how
fidelity to the model can be attained
• Family finding is being implemented in context where
multiple placement moves are to be avoided as much as
possible, placement stability was viewed as an
important practice goal
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Contact Information:
Karin Malm, [email protected]
240-223-9318
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www.childtrends.org
Twitter/childtrends
www.facebook.com/childtrends
Lessons Applied
Melissa Mollard, Director of Research
Seneca Family of Agencies
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Lifelong Connections Initiative
 In 2012, Seneca and San Francisco’s Human Service Agency
were one of five grantees funded by the Children’s Bureau
to implement a combined Family Finding/Family Team
Meeting model of practice.
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Implementation Science Framework
 “Only when effective practices are fully implemented
should we expect positive outcomes. Implementation
matters” (Blase & Fixsen, 2005, p. 10).
 Children and families do not benefit from interventions
that they don’t receive.
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Implementation Matters
The Intervention
Implementation
EFFECTIVE
NOT EFFECTIVE
EFFECTIVE
Actual benefits
Inconsistent; not
sustainable; poor
outcomes
NOT EFFECTIVE
Poor outcomes
Poor outcomes;
possibly harmful
Dean Fixsen et al., Implementation Research: A Synthesis of the Literature (2005), 69.
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Key Implementation Drivers
Performance Assessment
Systems
Intervention
Coaching
Facilitative
Administration
Training
Decision Support
Data System
Core Implementation
Components
Selection
Leadership
Technical
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National Implementation Research Network © Fixsen & Blase, 2008
Adaptive
Competency Drivers
 Permanency Specialists a mix of veteran staff and new hires
- Seasoned family finders provide mentorship to newly hired staff.
 Train staff in Family Finding model so that staff and
supervisors can provide effective monitoring and feedback
on an ongoing basis.
 Train staff in SF County practice model to ensure effective
communication (“speaking the same language”)
 Our Permanency Specialists carry out all steps of Family
Finding model and assist County social workers with the
Family Team Meeting practice.
- Training to County social workers in the combined model on-going,
and our staff cross-trained in the County model
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Performance Assessment—Fidelity Tool
Development
 Researchers, practitioners, supervisors, and trainers of the
model worked collaboratively to develop a fidelity
monitoring tool for the combined practice
- Sections that Permanency Specialists complete
- Sections for family members and other natural supports to
complete
- Supervisor attends to entire tool during formal supervision and
compares across Permanency Specialists to detect trends in step
completion
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Performance Assessment – Fidelity
Monitoring
 Develop a plan for monitoring implementation of the
program that includes data collection, observation of the
program, analysis of the data, and planning for ways to
address off-target implementation.
 Use the data collected regarding fidelity of implementation
in efforts to identify possible reasons for the program not
performing as expected.
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Performance Assessment—Outcome
Measures
 Permanency measures
- Reunification
- Length of time in care
- Re-entry into the system
 Well-being
- Using a scaled down version of the Child and Adolescent Needs and
Strengths (CANS) and measuring domains at entry and discharge
with both treatment and control groups
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Organizational Drivers
 Our staff have desk space and work side-by-side with
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County social workers
Staff have access to the CMS/CWS and enter information
directly into the database
Trainings for County social workers are happening during
staff meetings using case consultation model.
Seneca staff attending Safety-Organized Practice trainings
and looking for common language and themes across
practices
Seneca has long-standing relationship with County with
mutual trust and respect built over time
Fidelity Tool Snapshot
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Combination Family Finding/Family Group
Decision-Making Projects
Olmsted County, Rochester, MN;
Children's Home Society of Washington, Seattle, WA;
Oregon Department of Human Services, Salem, OR;
Seneca Family of Agencies, San Leandro, CA;
Spaulding for Children, Southfield, MI.
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Family Finding:
Learning and Lessons
Kevin A. Campbell,
Expert Trainer/Consultant and Author of the Family
Finding model
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The Need for Family Finding
Team based models like Wraparound, Family Group
Conference and Family Group Decision Making are
implemented in public child welfare systems with limited or
no relative and birth father participation, significantly
limiting their overall effectiveness.
Family Finding Hypothesis:
Strengthen the team, strengthen the plan.
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Foundational Family Finding Questions
 Is there a family for children in foster care for whom we
have been told there is no one?
 A related question: Is there a father and can he be
identified, located and engaged?
 Can they be found by case carrying staff?
 If they are found can they be effectively engaged and
become part of planning and decision making?
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Answers
We learn from this
experience that child
welfare workers also are
affected by the isolation
experiences of children and
parents. Staff become the
single source of support
and advocacy for youth
with to little time to do the
work they came to do.
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 There is a maternal family,
there is a father, the father has
relatives.
 There are also non-relative
adults who have a historic
connection of affection to
children who can be identified
 Many sites when challenged
could identify 40 or more of
these people
“You have something very unique in family finding. This is
authentic, something…natural, because you didn’t come to
divide, you come to construct. You bring families together”
- Found Relative
Child Trends. Client Voices: Youth, Parent and Relative Perspectives on Family Finding, May 2013.
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Importance of Client & Family Voices
They should inform our priorities in practice
- Be genuinely interested in the child’s and family’s well-being
- Aim for cultural competency
- Provide space for open of communication
- Support the client and family as they work through the process
Child Trends. Client Voices: Youth, Parent and Relative Perspectives on Family Finding, May 2013.
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Significant Differences in Family Finding at
the Front-End
 The original six step Family Finding model requires
modification when used at the front end of the system
 New questions arise, for example:
- Who is the family finding for, the parent or the child?
 Need to balance the priorities of concurrent planning
efforts while also prioritizing the voice of the parent in the
team building and decision-making process.
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Progressing Beyond Timely Notice
Additional impacts of Family Finding
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A Goal of Reducing Trauma
 Timely notice and rapid response can provide
opportunities to reduce the trauma experienced by
children in removal from parents and placement with
strangers in foster care
 Diligent effort in identifying relatives and providing notice
can limit or prevent the loss of dignity experienced by
family members when children are removed by the court
and agencies and placed with strangers
 15 states now have legislation or directives implementing
notice requirements in compliance with federal law
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Improvements in Adoption Practice
 Early notification and providing meaningful opportunities
for family and community members to participate in
decision-making creates a healthier adoption experience
 Relative adoption and overall adoption completion was
significantly increased in Florida, Missouri and New York
City Family Finding projects
 Providing meeting notice and opportunities for
participation in decision-making improves the quality of
outcomes for families affected by the child welfare system
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Indian Child Welfare
 Emphasizing additional identification of possible tribal
affiliation and early notice of tribes and the courts
improves the outcomes and well-being for Indian children,
families and tribes.
 Implementing a meaningful process for extensively
involving family, community and tribal members can
dampen the effects of institutional racism frequently
experienced by Indian families and children
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Lessons Learned So Far
Family Finding projects and evaluations to date have
taught us that:
- Relatives , community members and tribes can be identified,
located and noticed
- Engaging these relatives can reduce the secondary trauma of
preventable separation from relationships and membership in a
larger family, community and tribe.
- Long-term separation of siblings, grandparents and other
relationships of significance is preventable
- The child welfare system must join with relatives as a team to
reduce trauma and end the loneliness experienced by children in
the system
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Protecting the future…
 Increase support for and meaningful access to opportunities for
sustained relationships for children separated from their
connections by child welfare activities
 Prioritize the preservation and continuity of these relationships
as critical to protecting developing children across their lifespan
 Increase recognition of the significant role attachment and
affection play in shaping healthy brain architecture throughout
development
 Focus public policy on not only who will be the parent, but who
will be visiting and allowing the child regular involvement in
normative family, community and tribal activities
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To truly improve America’s Child Welfare System we must invest
not only in protecting children today from abuse and neglect,
but also protect their futures by reducing mental and physical
harm experienced while they wait for resolution within the
system. The family teams created through Family Finding
provide children and youth with a network to provide lifetime
support, reduce harm and promote well-being for each child.
There is no question that creating and sustaining this lifetime
support network requires time and resources. These investments
are critical to truly improving the child welfare system.
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Panel Question I
What have we learned from measuring Family
Finding and other innovative practices that
can improve the quality of future
implementation?
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Panel Question II
While anecdotally those who train Family
Finding believe that this approach has helped
thousands of foster youth become better
connected, and for some attain legal
permanency, why have we not seen more
evidence supporting these observations?
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Audience questions
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Resources
Six Steps for Family Finding
http://familyfinding.org/uploaded_files/fck/files/FF%20Six%20Steps.doc
Child Trends - Client Voices: Youth, Parent and Relative Perspectives on Family Finding
http://familyfinding.org/uploaded_files/fck/files/Child_Trends2013_05_01_RB_ClientVoices.pdf
Child Trends - Family Finding: Does Implementation Differ When Serving Different Child Welfare
Populations?
http://familyfinding.org/uploaded_files/fck/files/Child%20Trends%20Oct%202011.pdf
Child Trends Family Finding San Francisco Report
http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=family-finding-for-children-and-families-new-toout-of-home-care-a-rigorous-evaluation-of-family-finding-in-san-francisco
Family Connections Cross-Site Evaluation Report
http://www.nrcpfc.org/grantees_public/2009/Fam%20Conn%202009%20CrossSite%20Final%20Report%206-17-13.pdf
Additional Family Finding resources and information
http://familyfinding.org/resourcesandpublications.html
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