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Indiana Youth Connections Program. Department of Child Services Indianapolis, Indiana. Topics to be covered:. The Youth Connections Program Why connections? Program basics Protocols and procedures Certificate of connection Program outcomes Future of program Family finding techniques

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indiana youth connections program

Indiana Youth Connections Program

Department of Child Services

Indianapolis, Indiana

topics to be covered
Topics to be covered:
  • The Youth Connections Program
    • Why connections?
    • Program basics
    • Protocols and procedures
    • Certificate of connection
    • Program outcomes
    • Future of program
  • Family finding techniques
    • Why family finding?
    • Case mining
    • Working with youth
    • Using search tools
    • Working with relatives
why connections
Why connections?
  • Connections to family are critical for healthy child and youth development.
  • Children and youth need many different kinds of connections with family members.
  • Paternal and maternal relatives are important to children and youth.
  • Family members have a right to know how the youth is doing and deserve the opportunity to restore hope, by providing support to the youth, if appropriate.
why youth connections
Why Youth Connections?

Research on young adult development and youth transitioning from foster care shows that:

  • Outcomes are very poor for youth who age out of the foster care system without a family or committed, caring adult to provide supports and a safety net.
  • These youth face joblessness, homelessness, serious health issues, low education, and another generation (in their children) of contact with child welfare.
  • On average, young adults do not become fully independent until well into their twenties, relying on their families for support during challenging times.
  • Foster youth who leave the system without a permanent family often do not know who to turn to for help as they struggle to become fully functioning adults.
the youth connections program
The Youth Connections Program

Goal: To ensure that all youth aging out of foster care have a permanent family, or a permanent connection with at least one committed, caring adult who provides guidance and support to the youth as they make their way into adulthood.

connections can provide
Connections can provide:
  • A home for the holidays.
  • Someone to talk to about their problems.
  • Help finding housing, services, educational opportunities, and/or a job.
  • Assistance with money and household management..
  • Assistance with health issues, relationship counseling, and/or babysitting if youth is a parent.
  • Advocacy, motivation, mentoring.
  • Emergency cash.
  • A place to do laundry, use a computer or phone.
  • A link to community resources and social activities.
  • Transportation, clothing, occasional meals.
program principles
Program principles:
  • Supportive adult relationships are critical to the wellbeing of youth transitioning out of foster care.
  • Every youth should have a permanent family they can turn to during times of need. In the alternative at the very least, each youth should have one committed, caring adult whom they can count on to be there for them when they need love, support, information, and resources.
  • The youth must take the lead in identifying who these committed, caring adults should be.
the youth connections program currently serves foster youth
The Youth Connections Program currently serves foster youth:
  • Ages 14 to 18 years old.
  • Whose parents’ rights have been terminated.
  • Who express that they no longer desire to be adopted.
the ycp includes the following key program elements
The YCP includes the following key program elements:
  • Voluntary participation by youth
  • Case file review by a specialist
  • Meetings with youth to discuss possible connections
  • Use of the latest search tools to find connections
  • Ongoing input from and communication with family case managers (FCMs)
  • Close coordination with IL services
  • Certificate of Connection
  • Help building permanent connection
expanding the definition of relatives
Expanding the definition of relatives:
  • The YCP first searches for relatives and other caring adults known to the youth or other family members.
  • The YCP does not limit searches to blood relatives, which can reduce the possible resources available to the youth.
  • The definition of relatives includes “fictive kin,” individuals who are not blood relatives, but have or have had a significant relationship with the youth.
  • Searches include both maternal and paternal relatives to increase the opportunities for important kinship connections for the youth.
ycp protocols
YCP protocols:
  • YCP work requires close partnership with other key

professionals serving the youth, as well as with the youth and his or her family

  • Protocols are in place for working with FCMs, IL workers, group home staff, relatives and other possible connections
  • YCP specialists partner with youth, FCMs, IL workers and others to:
      • Identify youth eligible for the program.
      • Find committed, caring adults for the youth.
      • Solidify and support those connections so that they are maintained after the youth ages out of the foster care system.
ycp procedures
YCP procedures:
  • The family case manager makes a referral to YCP
  • The YCP specialist reviews the youth’s case file
  • The youth and family case manager recommend adults as possible permanent connections
  • The YCP specialist uses Internet search tools and other methods to find and contact the adults
ycp procedures continued
YCP procedures, continued:
  • YCP specialist facilitates meetings with youth and adult. (FCM may, but is not required, to participate in this meeting.)
  • Youth and adult sign a certificate of connection defining their relationship and the supports the adult can provide
  • YCP specialist works with FCM, IL worker and others to help maintain the connection the youth and adult have made
current ycp outcomes
Current YCP outcomes:

In Year One (January through December 2007)

  • 57 youth were referred to the YCP.
  • 25 youth participated.
  • 480+ contacts were made with possible connections.
  • Permanent connections were found for 19 youth.
  • 1 youth was moved from a group home to a placement with a relative. Another, at emancipation, went to live with relatives instead of going to a homeless shelter.
future of the program
Future of the program:
  • YCP specialists continue to carry YCP caseload and provide trainings and technical assistance in family finding approaches.
  • Family finding is now being used in other areas of permanency, including Independent Living (IL) and the Special Needs Adoption Program
  • Service standards have been created for private IL services contractors to bid to provide lifelong connections for foster youth.
  • FCMs and other DCS staff receive training in family finding to use as appropriate to reach case goals.
family finding can help with
Family finding can help with:
  • Reunification
  • Relative placement
  • Placement stability
  • Permanency
  • Permanent connections for youth
family case managers can
Family case managers can:
  • Assess cases to determine how family finding strategies can support case goals
  • Use case mining and search tools to locate extended family members
  • Partner with other professionals involved in the case to locate relatives
  • Contact relatives
  • Engage relative in case goals as appropriate
  • Seek help from YCP specialist as needed
family finding strategies include
Family finding strategies include:
  • Gathering information about the child’s family history and background
  • Working with child to identify important adults in his/her life
  • Case mining to find their contact information
  • Contacting known relatives to locate other extended family members
  • Using search tools to obtain contact info
  • Working with family members to see how they can support case goals
case mining
Case Mining

What to look for…

  • Siblings
  • Names, demographic information, SSN
  • Paternal and maternal contacts
  • Basic Information about the youth’s history
  • Relevant family history information

Look carefully at…

  • Earlier case files and court hearing documents
  • Visitor logs
  • ICWIS contact log
working with child to identify family
Working with child to identify family
  • Use ecomaps and genograms to learn about family members and other adults important to the child
  • Ask children who is important to them and whom they would like to contact
  • Ask children about names you have found in their case file
  • Have children draw their old neighborhood to help them remember who was important to them then
sample questions to ask the child
Sample questions to ask the child
  • Where would you feel most comfortable living right now if you cannot live at home for a while?
  • Who are the grown-ups whom you love the most? Who are the grown-ups who love you the most?
  • Who do you turn to beside your parents when you have something to celebrate?
  • Who do you go to for advice? Who do you call when you’re feeling upset?
  • Who are the grown-ups you like to spend time with or feel close to? Is there an adult who is especially nice to you?
finding extended family
Finding extended family
  • Contact people found from the case mining.
  • Work with birth parents (if safe) so they understand why you want more family information. Stay focused on the needs of the child. Be persistent.
  • Locate the “family historian” to get more information about the extended family.
  • Respect the family’s cultural practices and traditions.
  • Use free Internet search tools to find relatives and their contact information.
  • When all other options have been tried, use US Search to find relatives and their contact information.
  • Experienced searchers report that their best leads come directly from parents, child and others who know them.
  • Even small bits of information can be helpful in subsequent searches.
using search tools
Using search tools
  • Use free Internet search tools and public databases first (ICES, prison locator, SSI death index, utility company records, obituaries, etc.)
  • Cross reference information by using multiple search tools to find common names in both.
  • Look for the common address; usually the main resident of this address is the family helper and a good resource.
  • Look for elders who are more likely to be home during the day and also know family history.
  • Even when using customized searches like US Search, you will have to weed through the information provided.
public agencies and databases
Public agencies and databases:
  • School records
  • Court records
  • Birth certificates
  • State clerks’ records (marriage certificates, etc.)
  • Social services and health care agencies
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Department of motor vehicles
  • Department of corrections
  • US social security administration
  • Federal parent locator service
  • Child support agency
free internet search tools
Free Internet search tools:
  • (white pages)
when to use us search
When to use US Search:
  • You have exhausted other search methods
  • No one in family knows how to reach person
  • You have tried contact information and it is not correct
  • There is a rush on the case and you don’t have time to use the other approaches
  • You have gotten permission from your supervisor to request the search
what us search provides
What US Search provides:
  • A list of people who fit the information you submitted and contact information for each of them
  • Recent addresses for them and names of people with whom they have lived
  • Other names associated with this person and contact information for them
how to use us search
How to use US Search:
  • Go

and click on “community” at lower right

  • Type your email address and group password:
  • Provide information on person being searched
  • Do not submit searches on children
  • Use SSN when possible for best results
  • If common name, add information such as SSN, DOB, previous address, city and/or state of residence
  • Results will come within 24 hours to your email address, so be sure you submitted it correctly
  • Submit follow-up questions or additional information via email, not website, or IN DCS will be charged for a new search.
getting us search results
Getting US Search results:
  • Results will come to your email address, so be sure you submitted the correct address
  • Submit follow-up questions or additional information via email, not website
  • State pays $25 per US Search
  • Contact person at US Search:

Clif Venable 310-302-6440

making contact with relatives
Making contact with relatives:
  • If a call does not get results, try a letter in which you state your purpose and ask for family information.
  • Emphasize mutual interest in helping the foster child.
  • Contact both maternal and paternal relatives, using special care in cases involving domestic violence.
  • Be prepared to hear complaints or bitterness about the child welfare process.
  • Be persistent. Sometimes relatives are not ready to share information on the first contact.
  • Ask known relatives to contact other family members.
first calls to relatives
First calls to relatives
  • Be clear in the first few minutes why you are calling
  • Determine the relative’s relationship to youth and

tailor questions based on that relationship

  • Don’t ask too much of the relative in this first call
  • If one family member is not responsive, move on to the next one on your list
  • A call is successful even if you only get new information about the family
sample script for first call
Sample script for first call:

May I speak with Mr./Ms._________________?

Hello Mr./Ms.________. My name is YCP specialist’s name. I am calling on behalf of youth’s first name. Are you familiar with youth’s first name?

Great. Youth’s first name asked me to call you. I am a Youth Connections specialist. That means that I help foster youth find relatives who can tell them more about their families and who might be able to help them as they prepare to leave foster care and make their way into adulthood.

Would you be willing to speak with me about your family and how you or other family members might help youth’s first name?

questions about the ycp or family finding techniques
Questions about the YCP or family finding techniques:

Contact IN DCS permanency manager:

Cassandra A. Porter, JD

317-234-4211 (w)

317-650-6626 (c)

Or YCPspecialist for Southern Indiana:

Julie A. Deckard

812-895-3585 x206 (w)

812-830-9245 (c)