Family and Children’s Services recently created a new strategic plan. This followed a major consultation project which saw the Agency send a team of staff to Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario to review their systems, policies and practices. Two of the key directions in the strategic plan are finding timely alternative permanent families for children that cannot stay in their family and enhancing the role of the parent for children when they are in our care.
These strategic directions are grounded in solid evidence, informed practice and vision. Children do better when raised within a family setting especially their own “kith and kin”. Kinship research evidence shows that extended families are more tolerant of behavior problems in youth who they already have an established relationship with. . Children and youth within kinship homes experience less replacement as compared to other placements. FACSFLA has increased its use of ‘Family Based Care’ by identifying and approving more Kin homes for children. The Agency continues to not only make significant progress in reducing the number of children in care but also those in outside paid placements.
The FACSFLA Permanency Project has two parts – Family Finding and Child Specific Recruitment.
Family Finding is an intensive search method to find family members and other adults who would like to step in and care for children and youth in foster care who lack permanency. The goal of family finding is to locate long-term, caring, permanent connections and relationships for children and youth in foster care. Another goal is to establish a long-term emotional support network with family members and other adults who may not be able to take the child into their home but who want to stay connected with the child.
FACSFLA is proposing a pilot project which will include the hiring of a Family Finder who has investigative and engagement skills. The focus of the pilot will be to search for kin for children and youth who are not only in the care of FACSFLA and in the group home system but also youth in the community who are at risk of leaving their family home. The agency will utilise its existing infrastructure of teams and process to collaborate and facilitate the internal work. The individual would become a member of the Kin Team that is currently composed of three Kinship Services Workers, two Family Finders and one Manager.
The Agency is also proposing a project designed to make adoption services for the children available for adoption as accessible as possible. Several child welfare authorities have found success using a strategy called “Photo Listing” which uses the web, social media and multimedia to connect families looking to adopt with children ready for adoption. This will not only require changing how the Agency finds potential adoptive parents but also how the family is supported when a child/sibling group is first placed in the adoption home.