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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 25, No. 2
April 2020

Free Services Help Counties Achieve Permanence for Youth in Care

Through North Carolina's Permanency Innovation Initiative, the Children's Home Society of NC (CHS) offers an array of free services to help county child welfare agencies achieve permanence for children and youth in foster care. This article describes two of the most important.

1. Child-Focused Recruitment

Like listing with NC Kids, child-focused recruitment complements county efforts to achieve permanence. Although it does not replace ongoing county responsibilities, child-focused recruitment can be a tremendous help because it is highly effective. When served with Wendy's Wonderful Kids, the model CHS uses, youth are 1.7 times more likely to be adopted. Here's how this free service works.

Eligibility. All children in foster care who are age 9-20 and legally free or legal risk are eligible. Legally free or legal risk children in foster care under age 9 also qualify if they have an eligible older sibling. Children of any age are eligible if they are medically fragile or have a significant diagnosed mental health disorder.

Referral. The process begins when a county child welfare worker (the "referring worker") sends a referral form to CHS. Click here to access this form.

Initial Meeting. If the referral meets established criteria, the referring worker and recruiter meet to discuss case specifics and develop a plan for an effective partnership.

Recruitment. The recruiter helps the referring worker achieve adoption or guardianship (the preferred permanency outcomes) by reviewing information and searching potential permanency resources. These could be extended family that share legal, genetic, or social connections, or an adoptive family that is a match based on the child's needs. The recruiter also partners with the referring worker and the child to prepare for permanency through assessments and planning.

Parent Education. Individuals and families identified as potential permanency resources are eligible for parent education services. This involves creating a family education plan that integrates information about trauma, child development, and child-specific needs to support the child's ongoing development, attachment, and transition to a new family. Since 2014, CHS has provided education services to 165 NC families. Click here for a brief video in which families discuss the benefits of this service.

Results. Child-focused recruiters typically identify a permanency resource within 150 days, although this can vary greatly. Between January 2014 and June 2019, CHS served 946 youth from 88 NC counties. Of these, 370 exited care to permanency.

Whenever your agency lists a child with NC Kids, consider making a referral to CHS for free child-focused recruitment. The purpose of registering children with NC Kids--which is required by policy--is for child-specific recruitment, a key permanency strategy.

2. Free Training

CHS also offers free permanency training and consultation services through the Permanency Innovation Initiative. Agencies choose from a list of training topics that can be customized to fit their specific interests, staff size, and availability. Topics include building resilient teams, engaging fathers, supporting sibling relationships, and trauma-informed practice.

These services are available to all North Carolina county child welfare agencies, GAL programs, and court systems. Private agencies can participate in partnership with a county DSS.

CHS has provided permanency-related training to 11,047 professionals since 2014. To learn more, contact CHS's Revonda Yarbrough (; 828/270-2482).

The Permanency Innovation Initiative is funded by the state of North Carolina and the Dave Thomas Foundation.

Child-Focused Recruitment: Brittany's Story

Brittany, who entered foster care at age 4 due to neglect, was referred for child-focused recruitment in 2018. Brittany's recruiter spent time with her each month to get to know her and establish a strong, positive bond.

Brittany had already experienced adoption disruption and told her recruiter she was afraid of being adopted again. She did not want to be rejected by another family. Asked how she felt about reconnecting with her biological family, Brittany said she was hopeful, but knew nothing about them. She said she would love to see her mother again.

The recruiter thoroughly researched the DSS case file and found Brittany's maternal and paternal biological family in Florida. The recruiter received a call from Brittany's birth mother, who said she had been looking for her daughter for over 10 years. She was amazed the recruiter had found her. The recruiter continued to look for family and found one paternal family member. Sadly, Brittany's father had died shortly after Brittany entered foster care; her paternal relatives did not even know she existed.

When the recruiter set up a call with the maternal side of the family, Brittany cried and hid her face. She was nervous, happy, and in disbelief all at once. She heard her mother's voice for the first time in over a decade. The recruiter supported Brittany during the call and processed it with her afterwards. Brittany was a bundle of nerves, but happy and grateful the recruiter understood her desire to connect with her mother. During this call Brittany was surprised to learn she is of Mexican descent: she always thought she had Puerto Rican and African American heritage.

In December 2019, Brittany will go to Florida to see both sides of her family. Her recruiter will go with her to facilitate the meeting and support her every step of the way.