Recently I had the pleasure of attending a Family Finding Conference during the month of February. Held by the Children’s Aid Society of Oxford County, located in Woodstock Ontario, it was a week-long training termed “boot camp”. We were incredibly lucky to have Kevin Campbell, an internationally known youth permanency expert, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness and developer of the Family Finding model instructing us.
The Family Finding model seeks to build or maintain the youth’s Lifetime Family Support network for all youth who are disconnected or at risk of disconnection through placement outside of their home and community. This particular “boot camp” focused on youth currently receiving services from child protection agencies and a strategy to create permanent lifelong networks for homeless youth.
During the training we learned the importance of connecting youth with their families. We were immersed in the philosophy, framework, and skills of Family Finding practice. We worked in small groups on actual cases completing the Discovery and initial Engagement steps of Family Finding. By the last day we had found 60+ relatives and other connections, identified family members with functional strengths, engaged two lead family members, and created an invitation list to a Preparation and Planning Meeting.
It was intense! It was also eye-opening to the lifelong effects that youth involved in the Foster system can suffer if missing those family connections.
- Jackie Winger, Eternal Routes