• January 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 1

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Family Finding for Youth New to Foster Care

The Family Finding model promotes positive relationships and secure commitments from adults who are expected to remain involved in a child's life after he or she ages out of foster care. Historically, the approach has been used to find and secure family networks for older youth who have lost touch with their families as a result of having been in foster care for long periods of time. More recently, there has been interest in the child welfare field in implementing the model with children new to out-of-home care. Child Trends recently published the results of an evaluation of Family Finding in San Francisco with this broader population.

Researchers conducted an impact assessment, as well as an implementation evaluation. The study utilized random assignment procedures in which 123 children received "services as usual," and 116 children received Family Finding services. The goal of the impact study was to determine whether Family Finding services affected the likelihood of reunification and of a child's goal being changed to something other than reunification.

Results from the impact study indicated that the likelihood for reunification did not significantly differ between the treatment and control groups; however, a larger percentage of children in the treatment group were reunited with their parents during the study period. Children receiving Family Finding services were significantly more likely to have a goal of reunification than a goal of adoption, but they were also more likely to return to out-of-home care after reuniting with their parents.

Results from the implementation study indicated that caseworkers faced barriers in attempting to adhere to the Family Finding program model. Most notable were the findings that caseworkers had difficulties evaluating permanency plans and providing follow-up supports for the children receiving the Family Finding treatment.

Family Finding for Children and Families New to Out-of-Home Care: A Rigorous Evaluation of Family Finding in San Francisco, by Karin Malm, Tiffany Allen, Amy McKlindon, and Sharon Vandivere, is available on the Child Trends website:


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