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DHS News November 2012

Finding “Forever Families” for DHS Children and Youth

A longtime goal of the Office of Children, Youth and Families has been ensuring safe and permanent homes for all of the young people in its care. As part of a new pilot program to expedite this, in December, DHS will begin implementing permanency roundtables – structured, in-depth professional case consultations that are supported by Casey Family Programs. These roundtables are an opportunity for those involved with a child’s or youth’s case to work even more diligently toward finding a permanent family.

DHS will begin the roundtable process with three cohorts: youth ages 16 and younger in care 18 months or longer with a permanency goal of ‘other planned permanent living arrangements’ (OPLA); youth in group care for 12 months or longer with a permanency goal of reunification; and children ages five and younger in care 15 months or longer with permanency goals of reunification. Approximately 100 children and youth are expected to go through the roundtable process during the initial cohorts.

The roundtables include the youth’s Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) caseworker and the caseworker supervisor; a CYF case practice specialist who serves as the local permanency expert; a permanency consultant from the Casey Family Programs; a neutral facilitator; and a scribe. Each roundtable team will spend two hours on each focus child – and additional time for any siblings who are in care – discussing the case and answering five crucial questions:

  •   What will it take to achieve permanency?
  •   What can we try again that HAS BEEN tried before?
  •   What can be tried that HAS NOT BEEN tried before?
  •   How many actions can we do concurrently?
  •   How can we engage the youth in planning for permanence?

Roundtable team members will then create a permanency action plan that will be shared with the family and monitored on a monthly basis to measure progress.

“While these roundtables require us to take an honest, critical look at how we are addressing the permanency needs of all children, our goal is not to play ‘gotcha’ with staff and providers, and we certainly aren’t looking for ways to place blame,” said Jean O’Connell Jenkins, quality improvement manager in the Office of Data Analysis, Research and Evaluation (DARE). “Our ultimate goals are to expedite permanency, especially with the child’s own family, enrich staff and provider skills and competencies, and remove barriers around this very difficult work.”

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