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Invite More Unpaid Supportive Adults Than Paid Staff to Meetings

The Play

Invite at least three times as many unpaid supportive adults as paid staff members to planning meetings for youth in care.

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

The Problem It Solves

Most youth leave foster care with fewer connections than they entered with. Yet, most of these supportive adults, when interviewed, expressed interest in being more involved in supporting the youth in their lives. Making an active effort to keep this network engaged can help keep youth from exiting care without supports.

How To Do This

  • Redesign your planning meeting invitation and sign-in forms to encourage three times as many supportive adults as paid staff members. For example, you might have four times as many lines in the “supportive adult” area of the form as you do in “staff members.” Invitations should also remind staff to invite as many supportive adults as possible, and prompt them to do so.

Outcomes Data

  • Olmsted County, MN demonstrated significantly better outcomes for older foster youth when a ratio of 3:1 unpaid adults to paid staff attended their planning meetings (roughly 12 family members to 3 staff members). They also pay attention to the balance of family present from both sides of the family. source

Who’s Doing This?

  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Olmsted County, MN

Real-World Examples

  • Michigan has begun tracking who attends each planning meeting, and their role (e.g. CASA, supportive adult, paid staff). They do this in a simple Excel spreadsheet, with regular exports from their IT system.
  • Ohio has Youth Centered Permanency Round Tables (YCPRT) running in several counties. For YCPRTs, the youth is asked to bring a support person to the meeting. It can be anyone: a caregiver, a friend of the family, a member of the family, or anyone the youth feels is supportive of them. That can also initiate more conversations and discussion about permanency options and supports for the youth. One youth asked his fast food manager to come with him, and the manager didn’t even know he was in foster care. The manager ended up adopting him!
  • In Ohio, the practice for maintaining connections is: any youth 14 and over is able to have two support persons join in on the family team meetings and case plan meetings. That helps to initiate discussion of any other support persons available to the child.