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April 2013Vol. 14, No. 3Finding Kin With Facebook

A news release from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in January highlights its use of social media to find kin for children and youth involved with child welfare. Hoping to prevent children and youth from moving from one unfamiliar home to another, a resource developer with DHHS found Facebook to be a beneficial tool when searching for relatives.

Debi Schriner was challenged by DHHS to find new ways to locate kin. She was familiar with the ability to "friend" family members through Facebook's photo tagging, so she established a page and began to search for relatives of the children and youth in her caseload. Her focus has been on reconnecting children with family after long stays in foster care, even if parental rights have not been terminated. Schriner found that she rarely struggles to find kin of the children and youth in care. Through confidential messages exchanged, Schriner has looked for relatives of about 80 families thus far. All information about the children and youth is confidential and is not posted on the DHHS Facebook page.

The news release highlights specific cases for which Facebook has been used to locate kin. The news release is available on Nebraska's DHHS website: