The purpose of family finding is to provide individuals in the DHS services system with connections to others who can assist and sustain that person through daily living. These “others” may be family members, extended kin, or friends willing to be involved in an individual’s future.
Family Finding is utilized throughout the country and was initially devised to locate relatives for children in foster care. The idea is to find extended family via the internet, genealogical archives and other searches. These relations can then be used to establish a support network, provide an individual with a sense of self-history, and ultimately improve outcomes in permanency and well-being. Family finding creates connections to extended family that previously didn’t exist, and helps re-establish family bonds that may have dissolved.
In Allegheny County family finding is currently used in child welfare and its usage is eventually to be extended to all appropriate recipients of DHS services who lack or have been separated from their natural family. Once individuals are identified, an extensive search would be conducted to find relatives, neighbors or friends who would help create a plan for that individual, and then take an active role in executing that plan. The goal of this process would be to foster a system of life-long supports, a Network for Life, who continue to help that individual and become part of his or her solution.