Hillside Institute for Family Connections®, Family Finding & Family-Driven Planning Services

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Family Finding is range of services to help locate and engage caring adults to create lifetime networks for disconnected youth and young adults. As part of Hillside’s commitment to help ensure that all youth have permanent family connections, we are pleased to offer Family Finding services, training, and consultation for public or private agencies in the areas of child welfare (foster care, adoption, out-of-home placement), juvenile justice, mental health and developmental disabilities.

About this Program

Family connectedness is essential to healthy child development, but many young people in out-of-home placements have few or no family members on whom they can depend. Without these essential connections, youth have little chance of healthy development or living happy, fulfilled productive lives after they are discharged from care.

Family Finding services offer a model to discover, engage and support biological family, fictive kin and other natural supports in order to effectively plan for the youth’s legal and relational permanency.

Positive outcomes of Family Finding services can include:

  • For Youth—decreased loneliness and isolation, and increased hope for the future; an increased understanding of their families and themselves, including knowing their own story; and increased and stronger connections with supportive family members and natural supports.
  • For Families—healing and restoration through re-connection with their family member.
  • For Funders—cost savings are realized when youth in care discharge to a lower level of care or are able to leave care or avoid care altogether.

Family Finding: 6 Steps

Hillside’s Family Finding model supports pathways to permanency using six defined steps.


The Permanency Specialist partners with families to search for and identify new family members and natural supports for the youth in need.


Family members and natural supports are contacted and engaged in person, by telephone or letters. In this process, family and natural supports are asked to assist with decision-making and educated about the urgency of the youth’s situation.


Family members and natural supports share their knowledge of the youth, and learn why their voice and support is needed. Family members and natural supports are asked to become a part of the youth’s permanent lifetime network.


The lifetime network is asked to make key decisions to support the youth’s need for permanency, safety, and well-being.


Key decisions are evaluated for practicality and sustainability, and to ensure their role in the youth’s safety and well-being. An individual from the lifetime network is identified to organize and facilitate future meetings and communications.


The youth’s lifetime network is assisted in identifying and accessing services and supports necessary to maintain the plan.


Youth who reside in out-of-home placement and have few or no permanency connections. Additional eligibility criteria are based on youth’s county of origin and/or current placement. Contact us for details.

This program is open to eligible individuals from all counties in New York State: Albany, Allegany, Bronx, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Kings, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westchester, Wyoming and Yates.


Rochester/Buffalo Office
1 Mustard Street
Rochester, NY 14609

Syracuse Office
215 Wyoming Street
Syracuse NY 13204

Contact Information

Marsha Whitley, Director
Hillside Institute for Family Connections®

For details about this or any Hillside program, contact us 24 hours a day at 585-256-7500 or info@hillside.com

This Program Supported by Hillside Foundation, Grants, Onondaga County, Monroe County, NYS OCFS.

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