Use a Red Team to Prevent Youth from Entering Group Homes
Create a Red Team, staffed by a diverse team of agency staff that are empowered to make decisions, to rapidly brainstorm and pursue alternatives to group home placements.
Who Can Do This?:
Senior Agency Leadership
Timeframe: Months to get started
Difficulty: Moderately difficult to start
The Problem It Solves
Fewer youth will enter group homes if there is a team dedicated to finding alternatives.
How To Do This
- Appoint a senior leader for the red team
- Appoint a diverse group of agency team members with reputations for problem solving
- Declare the goal of the red team is to find an alternative placement to group homes for every youth
- Require a red team meeting before any youth can be placed in a group home. You may add additional scenarios, such as placing a child out of state, or in a general foster home with other unrelated foster youth.
- Construct a genogram as part of the red team process.
- Ask the youth about their connnections and possible placement options as part of every red team.
- Rhode Island has begun to depopulate group homes by requiring a red team before any group placement, or any placement into a home that already has at least one other unrelated foster child.
- New Mexico increased initial kinship placements from 3% to 40% in one year by shifting to practices that included requiring Director-level approval for non-kin placements.
Who’s Doing This?
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island holds a red team meeting, led by the Chief of Staff of the Department, before a child is placed in a group home or in a general foster home where they would be with other unrelated foster youth. As part of the red team, the family finding office conducts kin research, the team constructs a genogram, and they ask the youth directly about possible placement ideas.
- New Mexico has a policy that a Director must approve any placement with non-kin (whether general foster care, or a group home), even if it’s the middle of the night.