FAMILY ENGAGEMENT SERVICES
NYAP, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and our community partners, provides Family Engagement Services (FES, including unlicensed relative home studies, to families statewide!
Family Engagement Services is not only an array of services; at its core, it is a transformational process that gives families voice and choice in the decisions concerning the safety and wellbeing of their children.
Families are empowered to be the decision makers. Independent NYAP certified Family Engagement Coordinators, facilitate the family-centered meeting wherein the family develops their own plan to address agency concerns in matters related to their children. Upon agency approval, the family plan becomes the adopted plan.
Family Engagement Services Consist of:
Family Finding: This initiative consists of methods to identify members of a child’s family group using various tools to locate family members and connections for children involved with DSS. When located, paternal and maternal family members, including noncustodial fathers and fictive kin, are invited to come together as key decision makers in planning for their children. Family Finding services are available statewide and include:
Family Team Meeting (FTM): The FTM is the initial family gathering that ideally occurs within 24 hours of the child entering care and before the Probable Cause Hearing, or at least within 3 days of the child entering foster care. The purpose of the FTM is to engage family members in the decision making process as children enter foster care to address safety, relative placement options, and specific front-end assessments.
Family Group Conferencing (FGC):The FGC generally occurs after the FTM for all children in foster care, Family Preservation Services and those in the process of permanency to help ensure placement success. The FGC empowers families to create flexible plans that meet their individual needs rather than relying on agency created service plans that may not be as relevant or appropriate. As consumers, families need a voice in services that affect them; they need to develop the skills to mobilize their own resources, while advocating for services needed within their communities. The FGC is a collaborative approach that teaches these skills and empowers families as true partners with child welfare, juvenile justice, and other service systems. The process also requires families to address non-negotiable items, such as recommendations from assessments for services needed to ensure safety, permanence, and well-being. The FGC culminates in the development of a plan that is incorporated into the case record and then presented to the court to ensure that children are safe and thriving and to ensure that children are placed with forever families sooner.
Follow-Up Conference: In keeping with the principle of a family-led process, the Follow-up Family Group Conference provides the family group and agency representatives with an opportunity to review the Family Plan developed at the Family Group Conference to ensure relevancy, currency and achievability. It is a venue to share new information, evaluate progress and celebrate success. When the family group is still involved with the child welfare system, Follow-up Family Group Conferences can provide the forum for subsequent decision making,
Unlicensed Relative Assessment (URA): Once relatives are identified through the Family Finding, FTM, FGC process or ordered by the court, Family Engagement partner agencies determine if a family may be a suitable caregiver for the child in foster care or at risk of entering foster care. The URA process is completed by a non-biased Certified Investigator, adhering to a detailed standard assessment guide including recommendations regarding placement, all completed in a timely manner. Partnering agencies rely upon DSS to complete thorough criminal history and Central Registry checks.
What are the Benefits of FES?
Family engagement services are proven effective interventions that help ensure that all reasonable efforts are made for reunification or relative placement as children enter care and throughout their involvement with the agency. In addition:
- The family has more control of decision-making processes.
- More creative, detailed, and complete plans for children and families are developed in a timely manner.
- There is more follow through with family created plans due to personal investment.
- Family engagement results in earlier family reunification and reduction of time spent in foster care.
- Fathers and paternal relatives are effectively engaged sooner.
- Family engagement processes result in improved relationships and partnerships between families, DSS, and community child welfare and family service partners.
- Involved parties are able to expeditiously address difficult issues, resolving complicated case barriers to propel “stuck” cases toward desired resolution.
- Children and families remain connected or reconnect sooner, and are able to remain in or return to their home communities and schools sooner.
- Family engagement processes pave paths to permanency and legal resolution more effectively and efficiently, saving valuable court time.
- Outcomes for families and children are improved across all domains.
- We empower families and rediscover the village – It takes a village to raise a child!
We proudly partner with the following agencies to bring Family Engagement Services to every community in South Carolina:
- South Carolina Department of Social Services
- Children’s Trust of South Carolina
- Carolina Youth Development Center
- Family Matters of the Pee Dee
- Hope4Ward Family Services
- New Beginnings Family Conference
- Windwood Family Services