Again, I've waited forever to blog again! Since the last time I blogged, I've accepted a new job. I'll try to explain child welfare in Florida, then my new position will make a little more sense.
Sometime around 2001 the state of Florida began privatizing the child welfare system. They took bids from various agencies across the state to provide the services. In Hillsborough County (where Tampa is), the contract went to Hillsborough Kids, Inc. (HKI). They in turn have contracts with several agencies to provide various services. I currently work for one of those agencies, Camelot Community Care, Inc. in the adoption unit. I was hired as an adoption case manager in Feb. 2009 and have been the family finder for adoptions since July 2009.
Now, I'm going to tell you what family finders is. Family finding is a philosophy and way that child welfare should be done! It helps kids in foster care remain connected to their family. All to often in child welfare, a parent will tell workers that they have no family. The workers take them at their word and the kid ends up in foster care. In 2008 the Foster Connections Act was passed. It requires that ALL relatives up to the 5th degree (which is great aunts and uncles) be notified with in 30 days of a kid entering foster care. I'm pretty sure this is still not happening in most places. I have been working the back end of cases. I work with children that are available for adoption because their parent's parental rights were terminated by the courts. In the past, all relatives were told they could no longer have contact with children once their parent's parental rights were terminated. This is just a silly way of thinking! For the last two years I have been digging through case files looking for names of relatives that use to have a relationship with these kids. I have also met with lots of kids to see who is important to them and who they want me to find. Family Finding is not about a placement for kids, but lifetime connections.
Now to tie this all back together for you (if you're still reading at this point). I have taken a position at HKI as a Family Finding Coach. HKI is part of a research grant that is gathering data on family finding done with a coach versus family finding done without. I will be assisting others in doing family finding, while teaching them to make it part of their everyday work. I am looking forward to this new opportunity!
Sorry for no pictures this time!