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Relative Caregivers Rock!

Posted: March 17, 2011

Imagine if you got a phone call telling you that you have a 15-year-old grandson that you never knew about! What might your reaction be? Shock? Denial? Anger?

By Brenda Rich, The Kinship Institute at Turning Points for Children

What if you found out that the 15-year-old grandson has been in and out of 10 foster homes in a neighboring state in the last two years? What might your reaction be then?

What if you learned that this particular 15-year-old grandson had no one to turn to, no family to call his own?

In 2003, Kevin Campbell, an internationally known youth “permanency” expert, noticed that the Red Cross had methods of “finding families” for children in the midst of disasters and tragedies. For children in endless foster care homes, the result for them has often been disastrous and tragic. He has developed a “Family Finding” model to both locate and engage relatives of children living in either foster homes or in residential facilities, who have literally no family to turn to when they turn 18, and are no longer eligible for foster care. The goal is to provide these children with the lifelong connections that stable families can offer.

There are a variety of ways for a relative to connect to a child that they never knew. It might be a phone call, or several phone calls. It might be a chance to visit. It might be sending a birthday card. It might be a chance to talk about family matters, to ask and answer questions. It might be a whole new opportunity for a relationship.

“Jacob” has been living first in a foster home, and then a group home, since his mother passed away when he was eight years old. He thought that he had no family and never would, but he agreed to have the Family Finding staff at Turning Points for Children send out letters to extended family members located through an extensive search. Within a week of the letters being sent out, Jacob’s uncle called. He had not heard anything about Jacob for over eleven years. The uncle called at least ten other family members that he knew, to pass on the word about Jacob, and to begin to plan to meet him and see how the family can participate in Jacob’s future!

Children need to have family, to not be alone in the world, to have a sense of belonging, to have life-long relationships. Family Finding is providing a way for that to happen for numerous children across the country.

To learn more about the impact on children and relatives responses, you may view a video on the internet at: www.fromplacetoplacemovie.com.

For information for how Family Finding is working in Philadelphia, please view:
www.turningpointsforchildren.org.