Permanency matters: research shows that with a stable family environment where they feel loved and connected, children and youth have far better odds of graduating from high school, advancing to post-secondary education, finding rewarding work and staying connected to adults who care for them.
In 2012, FCSGW partnered with Until The Last Child on the Family Finding Project, a two-year pilot to improve outcomes for children and youth in or entering care. Through the initiative, FCSGW is assessing every aspect of its current approaches—identifying opportunities for improvement based on Canadian and international best practices, and stringently evaluating what works and what doesn’t.
"We are excited to be working with Until The Last Child to increase permanency for the children and youth we work with. Whenever possible, we want to return children to their parents. However, when that can’t happen we need to find families where children can grow to their potential knowing they are safe and loved."Daniel Moore, CEO FCSGW
One such practice is the Family Finding Model, which aims to build or maintain a lifetime support network for children and youth. Through this model, relatives and other supportive adults who have a place in the child’s family system or network are engaged to become permanent connections—with outcomes that include higher reunification rates, greater wellbeing, placement stability, a healthy transition out of the child welfare system (with less chance of re-entry) and a stronger sense of belonging. Adopting this model, FCSGW hired two Family Finders dedicated to searching for people in the extended family systems or networks of children in care in Guelph.
At the beginning of the project, the children involved knew of only nine family members. Following the Family Finding process, they knew of 125 family members. Twenty-five of these expressed desire to be connected with the children and participate in planning for their futures.
With the support of Until The Last Child, the agency continues to:
- Examine its business processes in search of alternative ways of working to achieve permanency goals
- Explore new methods of communicating with and marketing to the community to raise awareness of the need for permanent homes
- Address the problem of youth aging out of care with no permanent plan or family to belong to