For more information on the importance of permanent connections with caring adults, see our page on Youth Permanency.
- Family Search and Engagement: An Overview
This online training supports caseworkers and supervisors in putting into practice the critical skills necessary for family search and engagement (FSE). It introduces basic concepts of FSE, presents a concept of permanency, and discusses how to apply three central child welfare skills within the context of five key strategies in FSE. It is available on the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program website. (2011)
- Six Steps to Find a Family: A Practice Guide to Family Search and Engagement
This guide from the NRCPFC and the California Permanency for Youth Project provides detailed guidance on casework practice that supports family search and engagement in the quest to provide permanency for youth people. See the accompanying PowerPoint presentation below.
- Appropriate Referrals, Requests for Location Services, Child Support Applications, and Electronic Interface between Child Welfare and Child Support Enforcement Agencies
This Information Memorandum provides information to State title IV-D and title IV-B/IV-E agencies on three main issues:
- Referrals by the title IV-B/IV-E agencies to the IV-D agency (this includes determining what constitutes an "appropriate" referral and also defining the difference between requests for location services and full case referrals);
- Applications for child support on behalf of children not receiving title IV-E foster care payments; and
- Electronic interfaces between the title IV-D agency's State child support enforcement systems (CSES) and the title IV-B/IV-E agency's Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS).
- Child Welfare and Child Support: Working Together to Help Children
This handout was developed to educate child welfare staff about how they can access the Federal Parent Locator Service (FLPS).
- Making “Relative Search” Happen: A Guide to Finding and Involving Relatives at Every Stage of the Child Welfare Process
This guide from Child Focus provides a framework for creating and supporting a process of searching for relatives that can be used throughout the child welfare process to ensure that children and youth are connected to family members. It addresses not only the specifics of relative search, but the underlying values and policy needed to “signal a commitment to the importance of kinship connections throughout a child’s life.”
Family Search & Engagement: A Comprehensive Practice Guide
This guide from Catholic Community Services of Western Washington and EMQ Children & Family Services is a set of practices designed to locate, engage, connect, and support family resources for youth. It identifies issues and activities involved in relative search, and provides a variety of practical tools to assist the practitioner in the day-to-day work. (2008)
- Workshop Handouts: Lighting the Fire of Urgency
Handouts from the New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children 17th Annual Statewide Adoption Training Conference in May 2006. Presentation by Kevin Campbell.
- Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition: Extreme Recruitment™ Toolbox
Visit the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition’s website to learn about their “Extreme Recruitment™” approach to matching youth with adoptive families and to access their Extreme Recruitment Toolbox. The Extreme Recruitment™ Toolbox includes a variety of resources related to family search and engagement.
- Family Engagement
This bulletin for professional child welfare caseworkers from the Child Welfare Information Gateway describes the benefits of family engagement in the child welfare system and discusses ways to achieve meaningful family engagement, specific strategies that reflect family engagement, and examples of State and local child welfare programs that have achieved success with engaging families. (2010)
Resources from the States
Minnesota: Relative Search Best Practice Guide
- California: Exploring Santa Clara County's Family Finding Program
This report from the Bay Area Social Services Consortium evaluates the feasibility of implementing the Family Finding program in Contra Costa County in California. It explains the process, the funding for the program, the benefits of the program, the program's successes and obstacles, and implications and recommendations for Contra Costa County.
NRCPFC consultant Lucy Ann Carter has been working with Youth Connections Program staff. Together, they have prepared a history of the program as well as several PowerPoint presentations for use in various trainings at both state and local levels.
- Family Search and Engagement (FSE): Report on Lessons Learned and Training Module
Lessons Learned in Support of Ohio’s Child and Family Services Review Program Improvement Plan for Purposes of Dissemination to PCSAs
This report was developed by a Family Search and Engagement (FSE) Workteam in Ohio. It offers background information, discussion of 10 “Lessons Learned”, recommendations to public children services agencies (PCSAs) and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Appendices (including a sample agency flyer, information on search engines, and information to guide staff in making cold calls), and a list of resources. The information contained in this document can assist other agencies as they implement/maintain FSE practices. (October 2012)
- Kentucky: Resource on Diligent Search for Parents and Relatives
Kentucky submitted this resource for diligent search for parents and relatives as part of their PIP work for the PIP Benchmark: Improve Identification and Location of Family Members (and as part of their efforts to implement Fostering Connections). The Action Steps were to: Revise standards of practice to reflect process; and, Develop practice guides and resources to assist field staff. This resource outlines revisions made and offers an introduction to relative search and placement and relevant procedure. It includes a Relative Exploration Form, Notice to Relative of Removal of a Child Form, Absent Parent and Relative Search Handbook: A Guide for Social Workers, Absent Parent Search Form, Absent Parent Search Checklist, definitions, several types of sample letters, and, a Relative Placement Decision Making Matrix.
This guide was developed as a resource for identifying, locating and, if appropriate, involving absent parents in child protective proceedings.
- Tools for Parent Search
The Department of Human Services provides this list of tools for individuals who wish to pursue their own search. The sites listed are not endorsed by DHS.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services created this guide to assist social service agencies in performing relative searches when a child is removed from the home. Benefits of relative placement, cultural considerations in identifying and finding relatives, and the supervisor's role in supporting relative search efforts are discussed. Examples of how different agencies in the United States have developed systems to successfully identify and locate relatives are provided.
New York: Locating Absent Fathers and Extended Family Guidance Paper
The purpose of this guidance paper is to provide information on the need for, and methods of, locating
absent parents of children in foster care so that the child’s permanency and well-being can be achieved
more effectively and efficiently. Topics include the importance of locating absent fathers, the identified
barriers to locating absent fathers, and recommendations that social services districts and voluntary authorized
agencies can consider to support or improve their practices and permanency results.
Wisconsin: Practice Guide for Locating and Involving Non-Custodial Parents, Alleged Fathers, and Relatives
Wisconsin law requires that when children are placed in out-of-home care, placement with a relative must be considered, and, if a child is not placed with a relative, the reason(s) for nonplacement must be documented in the permanency plan. When a child is being removed from his or her home, caseworkers have a responsibility to search out and locate relatives and make attempts to involve them in the child's life either as a placement or as a resource and potential future placement. This policy provides minimum standards, guidance, and tools which will assist agencies in identifying, locating, and involving non-custodial parents, alleged fathers, and relatives as resources for children, especially children who have been removed from their homes.
Teleconferences & Webcasts
- Lighting the Fire of Urgency: Reunification of Families in America's Child Welfare System
June 14, 2005
Kevin Campbell discussed family-finding techniques he pioneered at EMQ Children and Family Services. Beverly Dekker-Davidson, Adolescent Services Manager for the County of San Mateo, California is working to develop a specialized multidisciplinary unit within child welfare of Social Workers and Employment Specialists to bring intensive services to older youth in foster care ages 14 and older. Her work with Kevin Campbell included a multidisciplinary approach which includes Mental Health, Juvenile Probation, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Child Welfare staff in seeking permanence for youth.
- NRCPFC Webcast: Meaningful Family Engagement
Meaningful family engagement is a prerequisite for helping families achieve their goals. This National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections webcast focused on meaningful engagement of families, particularly birth parents. The discussion included strategies for states focusing on how to successfully engage family members affected by the child welfare system, including fathers and paternal resources. In addition, a birth parent shared her experience as a former client and now a national consultant helping public child welfare agencies better engage families within and beyond the case plan. Using state examples of promising practices with meaningful family engagement strategies, this webcast also discussed utilizing the voice of parents as presenters and in digital stories. (January 2011)
- Six Steps to Find a Family
This presentation is based on our guide, Six Steps to Find a Family (see the first item on this page).
- Fourth National Youth Permanency Convening
This presentation from Judge Leonard Edwards of the Santa Clara County, California Juvenile Court presents an overview of the role of the juvenile court in permanency proceedings and provides information about the family finding efforts being undertaken in that county. It highlights the exciting work being done in locating relatives and providing connectedness for young people.
Websites for Locating Persons
- Family Search
Free site from the Mormon Church
- Geneology Today
This site offers a selection of both free and fee-based databases (clearly marked with a dollar sign). The name indexes of all fee-based databases can be searched without a subscription.
- People Finders
Free site from PeopleData.
Free and fee-based services.
- Death Records Search
Links to state guides on locating death records.
Commercial, fee-based site.
Commercial, fee-based site.