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Ask about connections repeatedly over time

The Play

Ask the youth and the known adults in their lives (birth parents, family, other kin, and even foster parents) multiple times to share a list of supportive connections. Different timing and questions can uncover more connections, who can prove to be crucial supports for youth.

Who Can Do This?: Anyone
Cost: Free
Timeframe: Immediate
Difficulty: Easy

The Problem It Solves

Many times, a parent, youth, or family member may be too stressed or fearful to share a complete list of connections in an initial meeting. This means youth can permanently lose important connections. Also, when children are in foster care for awhile, they may develop new connections.

How To Do This

  • Review the list of known connections at recurring planning meetings, and ask all participants if they can think of anyone who is missing.
  • Phrase your question in different ways: Who picks you up from school? Who would you call if you got locked out of your home? Who did you see at your last family gathering? Who do you miss?

Outcomes Data

We don’t have any concrete outcomes data for this play yet.

Who’s Doing This?

  • Michigan
  • Ohio (coming soon)
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Washington State

Real-World Examples

  • In Washington State, asking participants to identify supportive connections is a standard part of every Family Team Decision Meeting.
  • Michigan policy is: “The relative search must begin prior to the child’s removal from the home and continues until legal permanency for the child has been achieved or case closure… Caseworkers must pursue the identification and notification of relatives and document the initial and ongoing efforts in the investigation report and each case service plan.”
  • Ohio is developing a new quality hearing court guide that includes prompting for the identification of missing supportive adults. It will guide the judge or magistrate to ask participants about whether relatives have been explored, pursued, and where they are in the process. It will also prompt courts to ask about kinship placement and whether the caregiver is linked with training, services and financial support.
  • Rhode Island connects with foster youth in group homes over Zoom meetings to ask about supportive connections.
  • Virginia policy is to ask about supportive adults at every placement change, and also annually.