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Use a Red Team to Prevent Youth from Entering Group Homes

The Play

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
Cost: Free
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.

Outcomes Data

  • 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

Real-World Examples

  • 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.