2009 Jordan Institute
14, No. 1
North Carolina’s Family Finding Project
Family Finding, developed by internationally known youth permanency expert Kevin Campbell, is a set of strategies being used throughout the U.S. to find lifelong supports for young people in foster care. Family Finding contends that, given the chance and with the passage of time—which includes personal maturation along with changes in family situations—appropriate biological family connections can be made or reestablished for youth in care. Family Finding acknowledges the family separation and loss that occurs when youth enter and remain in foster care.
Family Finding’s approach to connecting and reconnecting youth with their families includes an extensive search and discovery process to identify and engage family members. Internet-based search tools, such as US Search, are used to identify and locate family members we may not know. Strong efforts are made to connect/reconnect youth with family members or relative resources who live as close as next door or across the country.
The family leads the planning process to ensure they remain engaged and can potentially provide lifelong support for the young person. The support offered by newly found family members may include inviting the child to spend the holidays with them or, in some cases, providing a permanent home in which the child can grow and flourish (CFFYC, 2008).
In 2008 the Division of Social Services received a grant from The Duke Endowment to pilot Family Finding in six North Carolina counties: Buncombe, Catawba, Gaston, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, and Wake. Each site anticipates serving about 25-30 youths per year. The grant includes training with Kevin Campbell, rigorous national evaluation by the Washington DC-based Child Trends, on-site coordinators for each county DSS, and a state consultant. The Division hopes the pilot will last between 2-5 years, depending on continued funding.
By November 2008 participating counties had hired coordinators to do Family Finding work, determined the youth/child eligibility and referral criteria, and begun practicing Family Finding techniques on sample cases. The pilot was fully implemented in January 2009. Kevin Campbell will continue to provide training for participating North Carolina counties throughout 2009. The goal of this project is to connect/reconnect youth with family members and to impact permanency and well-being outcomes for youth.
For more information about this project, contact Tamika Williams (Tamika.Williams@ncmail.net), Permanency Coordinator for the Division.