To achieve our vision of a safe and positive future for all Texas children, Texas CASA has worked to stay at the forefront of emerging challenges by developing several new initiatives, including Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE). Studies have found that one of the strongest indicators for child well-being is the number of committed adults in a child’s life. After the success of the five-year federally funded Diligent Recruitment project, Texas CASA approached the 84th Legislature and was appropriated funding for a two-year Family Finding collaboration between CASA and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
“I’M EXCITED TO BE A PART OF THIS INITIATIVE. I ANTICIPATE THAT THIS WILL START A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN HOW WE LOOK AT FAMILIES ENTERING THE SYSTEM.”
This new partnership is built around the fact that children have many blood relatives and other important connections that can be identified and located, and engaged with a case at its inception. Continue reading for more information on how this approach is creating better outcomes for youth in care.
Pilot Areas: 9 Programs serving 12 counties
Serving Nueces County
Serving Fort Bend County
Serving Montgomery County
added in FY 2017
Serving Hidalgo County
Serving Tarrant County
Serving Chambers and Liberty Counties
Serving Hood and Somervell Counties
Serving Johnson County
Serving Palo Pinto and Parker Counties
Training To Date
Nearly 1,000 CASA & CPS staff, care providers & members of the legal community have participated in 15 Training Sessions.
INTEGRATED & TEAMING APPROACH
CFE is an integrated or embedded approach that establishes a true team between CASA and CPS to work together to complete the steps of Family Finding. This CFE team will share the Family Finding work, and every success will be a cooperative achievement. This differs from the traditional implementation model where the work and results fall to one Family Finding specialist. Open communication and collaboration is encouraged amongst the CFE team, with an emphasis on utilizing the child’s CASA volunteer. This teaming approach models the need for and goal of establishing a community of support, or network, around the children and their families.
TMC & PMC FOCUS
“I BELIEVE THE FOCUS ON ENGAGING FAMILIES WILL RESULT IN BETTER OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. HOPEFULLY MORE CHILDREN WILL GROW UP IN THEIR FAMILIES OR WILL AT LEAST MAINTAIN ONGOING CONNECTIONS WITH THEM.”
Feedback from the first year of CFE strongly identified the need for this work to be done for all children and youth in foster care, not only those in Temporary Managing Conservatorship (TMC), as was the focus in year one. CFE efforts therefore now include children and youth in Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC), and will continue for those in TMC. All children and youth deserve meaningful lifelong connections and permanency as soon as possible.
CFE takes the “finding” of the family much further by ensuring an authentic commitment from CASA and CPS to truly and meaningfully engage with found connections. We understand the importance of welcoming their presence in the child’s life and their continued involvement in the planning and decision making.
ONGOING COACHING & SUPPORT
All involved in CFE must complete four days of training: two days with Family Finding founder Kevin Campbell focused on an overview of the model and its foundational principles, and an additional two days focused on the specific CFE tools. Training for CFE does not end—the CFE manager is available to provide continuing coaching, consultation and feedback.
“CFE TEACHES US TO THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX AND WORK TO BUILD A FOREVER FAMILY FOR THE CHILD.”
Data will be collected by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin to determine whether outcomes were improved for children and youth in the child protection system. The CFE model is flexible, so having this data and learning what is working from staff on the ground will allow our practice to evolve.