Jane and her two younger siblings (ages 7, 6 and 4 years) entered the child welfare system due to concerns of safety and neglect, linked to issues of substance abuse by their mother. Initially, the mother was unwilling to engage with service providers due to her mistrust of the system. Hillside’s Family Finding program was identified as a strong potential resource for this family.

The Hillside Family Finding model is based on a recognition of the uniquely valuable role family members can play in the health and wellbeing of individuals in need. Research has proven that meaningful lifelong connections with family and natural supports are the single factor most closely associated with positive outcomes for youth. With this in mind, Family Finding helps find permanent lifetime connections for vulnerable youth that can strengthen the health and wellbeing of all involved.

At the time of Jane and her siblings’ enrollment in Family Finding, only one family member—a maternal grandmother—had been identified as a potential support. Hillside’s Family Finding team was able to locate 25 more potential family members who might be able to provide safe and healthy lifetime connections. This was accomplished through extensive research tactics that include mining of available county records; scouring of public social media accounts; and an advanced Seneca Search technique designed for use by family agencies in scenarios such as this.

While the children remained in care, a Family Finding Permanency Specialist assisted the mother in exploring safe housing options; encouraged her to attend therapy sessions; and helped facilitate weekly visits with her children. The mother came to rely on her Family Finding contact as a trusted resource for information about the child welfare and court systems, the importance of reaching out to others for help, and better understanding her family’s history. This connection helped her to confidently pursue her own treatment.

Through this partnership with the children’s mother, the Permanency Specialist was able to narrow the list to 10 confirmed family members. One of these relatives, a maternal brother, has welcomed the mother and children into his home while they continue their own pathways to recovery. Today, these combined supports have allowed the mother to resume primary care of her three children, with ongoing support from their extended family and Hillside.

To learn more about Family Finding, contact Marsha Whitley, Director of the Hillside Institute for Family Connections®, at mwhitley@hillside.com.

Community support allows Family Finding to help more youth and families in need. Donate to Hillside today.

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