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Maine Kinship to Permanency

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  1. Maine Kinship to Permanency All Children Deserve Family Connections ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  2. Progress Towards Last Year’s Action Items • Maine utilized the Fostering Connections Grant Award to bring together the full network of organizations in Maine with a track record in providing services and supports to kinship families through a model of Kinship Navigation Services, Kinship Focused Family Team Meetings, and Family Finding Processes. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  3. Focus and Context The Family Finding component focused on 26 older youth, aged 15-17 who have been in care 3 or more years. Casey Family Services, as a grant partner, utilized proven family finding techniques and diligence to make connections between youth and family members. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  4. Goals These activities met the goals of the project in supporting systems-level changes that enhance family team meetings and family finding protocols within the Department of Health and Human Services and within community agencies. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  5. Examples of Success • One youth identified a third grade teacher who was a great support for him. When located, the teacher eagerly wanted to participate in the youth’s team. This work helped the youth find out why he was in care and to begin a connection with his father. • Another youth in residential care for many years has been reconnected with her maternal aunts and a cousin through pictures and letter writing. The youth stated “I need to change my thinking because for years I had thought I had no one and now I know I do”. The family finding on this case also discovered that the youth’s father had passed away. She was able to learn this information in a safe environment. • Five other youth who are close to aging out or have aged out are moving towards reconnecting and possibly living with their birth parents. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  6. Partners Relationships lead to: understanding of the strengths of kinship care and the need for and path to safety, well being and permanency for youth in care or at risk of entering care. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  7. Future for Family Finding • Moving forward, the Family Finding will utilize extreme recruitment and permanency roundtables to enhance their work to improve permanency outcomes for older youth in care. • Kinship connections are a priority. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  8. Maine’s Focus on Kinship Care In the State of Maine, over 11,000 children are being raised by a grandparent or other relative. In the population of children in foster care, slightly more than 1700 children, 30% are with relatives, a significant increase from the less than 10% only five years ago. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  9. Legislative Task Force on Kinship Care • In August of 2010 a Legislative Task Force was convened to address the needs of kinship families in Maine. Maine DHHS was a member of the panel. Challenges identified by the panel included: • Achieving permanency for children and the balance of parental, kin and children’s rights and interests. • The timeline for permanency; concern about the effect of further disruption in the life of the child; • Legal processes, legal expenses. • Balancing the benefits, requirements and restrictions of involvement by the State; ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  10. Challenges, cont’d. • Providing support and services to kinship families, including what are the legal requirements for education, special educational services, health care services; • The range of legal status of families caring for non-biological children [(1) formal with DHHS involvement, (2) informal with a legal guardianship or parental rights and responsibilities court order, (3) informal with a power of attorney and (4) informal with no legal paperwork]; • Providing behavioral health services for children in kinship care; and • How to provide guidance to schools regarding enrollment requirements, to families and health care providers regarding authority to consent to treatment and authority to treat, and to housing authorities regarding non-biological children being considered members of the family. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  11. Partnering with Youth to Meet the Challenges • As we review recommendations made by the task force to address the needs of kinship families we intend to partner with our youth to address those challenges to have youth safely placed with relatives. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  12. Partnering Plans • Formalize the role of Youth Transition Workers with regard to permanency efforts for older youth on V9 Agreements (18-21). Youth Transition Workers will help identify supports (past and current) to facilitate increased informal supports and family being included in the youth’s family team. • Youth Transition Workers will also continue to facilitate numerous youth panels across the state that focus on training child welfare staff and resource family providers about the needs of older youth for permanent family connections. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  13. PDSA Model • OCFS is currently working with youth and others within child welfare to participate in a “PDSA” to provide older youth in care cell phones and supports to reach out to estranged family members. This “Cell Phone Pilot” will provide resources and guidance to youth and caseworkers about supporting the process of youth searching for families and kin and potentially reconnecting with them. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  14. Legislative Action • During this legislative session, DHHS is introducing legislation to allow the reinstatement of parental rights post-TPR when doing so would allow for the safe return of youth to their birth parents. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  15. Accessing Technical Assistance • The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Child Welfare Strategy Group is meeting regularly with senior management to develop additional strategies to improve permanency outcomes for older youth in care. A focus on kinship care will be a part of this process. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  16. Together • As we engage in more opportunities to hear from youth and allow youth to direct their own lives we will make a difference. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  17. ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010

  18. Thanks Thank you from the Maine Team………… • Jim Beougher • Dulcey Laberge • Carla Mowatt • Ed Ford • Brenda Martin • Marinda Nha • Dianna Walters • Susan Burns Chong • Chris Dilworth • Mark Millar • Ginny Marriner ME DHHS and Partners NE Permanency Convening 2010