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Cook County Illinois Recruitment and Kin Connection Project. Getting connected. Staying connected Grant: #90CO5013. RKCP overview Strategies for recruiting relatives and fictive kin Concurrent Planning RKCP Evaluation Overview. Presentation outline.

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Presentation Transcript
presentation outline

RKCP overview

  • Strategies for recruiting relatives and fictive kin
  • Concurrent Planning
  • RKCP Evaluation Overview
Presentation outline
recruitment and kin connection project

We are an intensive family finding and engagement model for families with children ages 6 through 13 who are new to care:

  • Empowers birth parents at the time temporary custody is granted;
  • Locates a support network for each family consisting of relatives, fictive kin, and significant others with the help of the birth parents;
  • Encourages permanency planning at case opening: and
  • Engages with the assigned Child Welfare Specialist to become part of the team that works diligently to increase placement stability.
Recruitment And Kin Connection Project
maintain family connections

The purpose of family finding is to build a

life-long supportive network

for children and their families.

It is our belief that family finding can reducethe time children are in care when executed with passion and a sense of urgency.

Maintain family connections
support is giving strength to another

We interview birth families at the time temporary custody has been granted and have them identify their current or potential supports

  • We gather information and conduct outreach visits the next day
  • We search for, assess, and engage identified birth family members, fictive kin, and significant others who can act as resources
  • We re-assess identified family members throughout the case to assist with service planning
  • We document all family finding efforts directly onto SACWIS and provide hard copies for court personnel and child welfare specialists
“Support is giving strength to another”
partner with birth parents

Kin Connection Specialists:

  • Recognize that family involvement is powerful and effective.
  • Help families design change by identifying their own positive supports.
  • Find relatives and friends with the help of the birth parents who can be a positive support to the parents and to the children while they are in substitute care.
  • Respect and value the birth parent’s suggestions of relatives who can help.
  • Locate relatives who can help the birth parents with meeting the tasks of their service plan.
Partner with birth parents
the search for current and potential connections

The Kin Connection Specialist will:

  • Gather names, addresses, and phone numbers of family members identified by the birth family;
  • Reach out to the identified family members the day after temporary custody is granted;
  • Conduct file mining of the current information available on SACWIS that may lead to identifying more family members;
  • Schedule face-to-face meetings that will assess the current level of support for the family and create a plan that will assist with potential family support.
The search for current and potential connections
preserve family history and relationships

We document a child’s history and relationships as soon as temporary custody is granted:

  • The birth parent’s account of supportive family members
  • A baseline and subsequent genogram
  • A child-centered eco-map
  • A Family Finding Information sheet complete with addresses and phone numbers of family members
  • A comprehensive Family Search and Engagement Summary Report
Preserve family history and relationships
family finding information placed in sacwis

The Kin Connection Specialist has been assigned a role on SACWIS and is able to document all family finding history in the family’s permanent SACWIS record under the Diligent Search section.

  • The Kin Connection Specialist has been assigned a specific role on the Diligent Search Service Center in order to complete diligent searches for family members
Family finding information placed in Sacwis
partner with court personnel

Public Defender:

  • Introduces KCS to family at TC hearing and encourages the birth parents to take advantage of family finding services;
  • Receives a copy of the family finding information for future reference for their clients.
Partner with court personnel
partner with court personnel1

Public Guardian:

  • Serves as a consultant for the KCS regarding the child’s needs;
  • Acts as a member of the child’s team regarding family finding efforts.
Partner with court personnel
transfer of learning model

The Kin Connection Specialist teaches the family search and engagement model to the assigned Child Welfare Specialist by:

  • Helping families design change by identifying supports and use this information in service and concurrent planning;
  • Teaching the importance of preserving the family relationships;
  • Recognizing that when a family tells their story in their own words, it can lead to better searches, and better outcomes.
Transfer of learning model
discovery in family finding

File mining: SACWIS and paper files

  • Birth parent interviews, mother and father
  • Interviewing family members
  • Interviewing the children
  • Interviewing community members
  • Internet and data system searches
  • Identify challenges and barriers and navigate around them
Discovery in family finding
engagement in family finding

Most crucial component in family finding

  • Demonstrate respect/empathy
  • Develop an understanding of the family’s past experience and current situation
  • Identify family strengths and needs together
  • Be consistent, reliable, and honest
  • Allow family members to “vent, validate, and venture”
Engagement in family finding
family engagment tips

Engage and empower both parents as much as possible – listen to and respect their story

  • Do not assume that the family member knows how important he/she is to the child – ENLIGHTEN THEM
  • Discuss the positive impact their continued involvement can have on the child’s well-being
  • Identify AT LEAST 4 key figures that are committed to maintaining family connections and assess past, current, and potential relationships with the family and children
Family engagment tips
assess four levels of support

The Kin Connection Specialist will meet with identified family members and fictive kin and determine what level of support they can provide to the family and to the child(ren) in care.

  • Formal Supports – Level 4
  • Natural Supports – Level 3
  • Community Supports – Level 2
  • Informal Supports – Level 1
Assess four levels of support
formal supports

Current placement

  • Potential future placement if needed
  • Extended respite care
Formal supports
natural supports

Planned short term respite care

  • Emergency respite care
  • Child mentor
  • Parenting coach for birth parents
  • Provide transportation to school, doctor, therapist
  • Provide transportation to community activities
  • Supervision of safety plan
  • Child care
Natural supports
community supports


  • Attorney
  • School personnel
  • Church members
  • Youth groups
  • Youth counselors
  • Scout leaders, dance teachers, or friends
Community supports
informal supports

The identified family member or fictive kin can:

  • Send cards, letters of support
  • Be present at important events in a child’s life
  • Make phone calls
  • Plan outings, movie nights, sporting events
  • Provide family photographs
  • Offer emotional support by staying connected
Informal supports
locate supportive kin fictive kin

Family Gem: Current or potential placement

  • Family Leader: The family looks to this person for support and guidance; has the ability to motivate others in the family to act; holds the “power” in the family
  • Family Informant: Shares structure of family dynamics and can identify the family’s strengths, needs, and current barriers
  • Key Player: Has the resources/skill sets to be an important figure in the child’s life in areas such as weekend visits, tutoring, mentoring, and outings.
Locate supportive kin/fictive kin
central family figures

Family Gem

  • current placement
  • potential future placement (crucial)
  • short-term respite provider
  • long-term respite provider
Central Family figures
central family figures1

Family Informant

  • Willing to talk to the KCS about family structure and dynamics
  • Identifies family members on maternal and paternal side
  • Willing to share contact information for additional family members
Central family figures
central family figures2

Family Leader

  • Family members look to this person for support and guidance
  • Holds “power” in the family
  • Has the strongest ability to motivate others in the family to stay involved
Central Family figures
central family figures3

Key Player

  • Resources and skill sets to be an important figure in the child’s life
  • Not the current placement and may not serve that role in the future
  • Mentor, confidant, includes child in family activities
Central Family figures
our findings become part of the family s permanent record

Family Finding Information Sheet

  • SACWIS case note under Diligent Search Section
  • Baseline/Subsequent genograms
  • Child Centered Eco maps
  • Family Search and Engagement Summary Report
Our findings become part of the family’s permanent record
how to develop a concurrent plan

Two fold process:

*build a life-long supportive network

*develop an alternate plan if reunification is not possible

  • Concurrent planning requires:

*open, honest, complete communication between the birth parents, foster parents, and case manager

*respectful use of disclosure

How to develop a concurrent plan
the rkcp evaluation process

There are two primary data sources to the evaluation:

1. SACWIS File Reviews

Goal: To collect traditional child welfare outcome data.

2. Home Visits

Goal: To collect child well-being and psycho-social outcome data.


  • Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)
  • Harter Self-Perception Scale (Self Esteem)
  • Positive and Negative Emotions (PANAS)
  • Optimism and Pessimism (Y-LOT)
  • Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI)
The rkcp evaluation process
key evaluation hypotheses

Children in the intervention group will:

  • Achieve permanency more quickly.
  • Return home or achieve kinship guardianship at higher rates.
  • Have fewer placement disruptions.
  • Have better psycho-social and well-being outcomes.
Key evaluation hypotheses
evaluation design

Children between the ages of 6 and 13 are served.

  • Cases are randomly assigned to courtrooms at Cook County Juvenile Court on Concourse and Ground Levels.
  • In Year 1 of implementation, the intervention group included all children on the Concourse Level and the Control Group included children on the Ground Level. The groups have switched floors in Year 2.
Evaluation design
scheduling home visits

The home visit team contacts each child’s foster parent or residential placement to attempt to schedule a home visit approximately six weeks after the temporary custody hearing. Up to seven calls are made over the course of three weeks.

  • Shelters are contacted to obtain permission for visits with children placed at these facilities.
  • Caseworkers are contacted to assist in scheduling visits with children in inpatient placements.
  • Each child’s caseworker is notified once a home visit has been scheduled.
  • Subsequent home visits are conducted at 6 and 12 months after temporary custody. Placement and caseworker contact information are updated as needed at these times.
Scheduling home visits
sacwis file review

Four Phases:

Phase I

Using SACWIS File Review Document, RKCP evaluation team collects data from SACWIS involving demographics, basic case information and relative involvement.

Phase II

Evaluator emails Child Welfare Specialist or Kin Connection Specialist to set up a 20-30 minute phone call to discuss Phase I results.

Phase III

At six-eight months, Child Welfare Specialists are sent cases with lists of kin/fictive kin identified in Phase I.

Phase IV

Case closure. Evaluator completes section of file review pertaining to case disposition and all placements and placement dates while in care.

SACWIS file review
intervention versus control group mean number of relatives identified
Intervention versus control group:mean Number of relatives identified


# of Relatives

More Relatives Identified in the Intervention versus Control Group


intervention versus control group mean number of attachments identified
Intervention versus control group:Mean Number of “attachments” identified


# of Relatives

More “Attached” Relatives Identified in the Intervention versus Control Group


permanency planning

“Would you consider any of the kin or fictive kin we have discussed as alternative placements for the child if the current placement were not to work out for some reason?”

  • If yes,

Name of person:_________________________

  • “Have you discussed this possibility with this person?” YES _____ NO _____
Permanency planning
Kin Connection Specialist versus Child Welfare Specialist capacity to Identify Alternative Placements

Kin Connection Specialists (Intervention) were able to identify alternative placements more often.

intervention versus control group time 1 harter self concept differences
Intervention versus control group:time 1 harter self-concept differences

Intervention group had higher self-concept scores, controlling for demographic and intake differences.

intervention versus control group time 1 network of relationship inventory differences disclosure
Intervention versus control group:time 1 Network of relationship inventory differences (disclosure)

Intervention group was more likely to disclose to relatives, controlling for demographic and intake differences.

proportion of relative to total placements intervention versus control
Proportion of relative to total Placements: Intervention versus Control

As the number of placements children experience increases, the proportion of placements that are with relatives is stable for the intervention but decreases for the control group.

family finding is nice


  • Impact
  • Connect
  • Empower/Engage
Family finding is nice!
contact information

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

100 West Randolph, Suite 6-100

Meryl Paniak, MSW, JD

IDCFS Project Administrator – Office of Legislative Affairs


Mary Dreiser, MSW

Statewide Federal Grants Manager


Contact information
contact information1

Adoptions Unlimited, Inc.

120 W. Madison, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 312.346.1516 Fax: 312.346.0004

Marilyn Panichi

Executive Director----- 312.462.7225

Deborah J. Saucedo

RKCP Director – 773.682.1667

Cook County Juvenile Court – 8th Floor,2245 West Ogden Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612 or

Kristin Miller

RKCP Associate Director – 773.682.2114

IDCFS Joliet Office – 1619 W. Jefferson Street, Joliet, IL, 60435-6724 or

Dr. Scott Leon, PhD., Associate Professor, Loyola University

RKCP Evaluator


Contact information