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Family Finding

Spark Learning for Organizations LLC conducted a landscape scan and literature review to identify key policies, practices, programs, and approaches that may help mobilize a shift toward kin-first culture in the child welfare system. The documents below provide exemplars of policy innovations and a synthesis of the available research on family finding. 

This work was prepared for and supported by the Center for Excellence in Family Finding and Engagement, a partnership of the California Department of Social Services and the University of California, Davis. 

Family Farming

Landscape Scan

This document provides a summary of emerging family finding efforts and links to resources for additional information where available. The Water of System Change Framework was used to center and organize promising practices from the field within the six conditions needed for systems change: Mental Models, Relationships and Connections, Power Dynamics, Policies, Practices, and Resource Flows. The Framework is described, and exemplars are provided in each condition to support actionable and sustainable systems change. 


The resources highlighted in this document could not address the full scope and scale of innovations in the field, but provide a starting point for systems seeking to ensure all young people remain connected to and supported by their kin network. Of note, many of these promising practices are in the early implementation stage, and thus do not have comprehensive data related to effectiveness. We encourage leaders to honor the role of practice-based knowledge in the short term, while also consulting existing evidence-based approaches and implementing plans to collect data that will assess the evidence base for these novel interventions.

Literature Review

This document provides a review of the literature related to family finding practice. First, empirical outcomes and implementation data for proprietary Family Finding Models are presented. Next, empirical outcomes data for nonproprietary models are reviewed. An interpretation of findings across studies is then provided, and a description of two adapted family finding models is presented. Lastly, several integrated approaches to support the implementation of family finding practice with a focus on restorative and responsive practices are identified and summarized. Examples of how each approach may be used in conjunction with an established Family Finding Model are suggested.

Overall, a review of data and practice suggest the need for integrated, holistic family finding approaches. The development of a "hybrid" model that integrates existing family finding practices with other evidence-informed approaches may result in the greatest efficacy and impact.

Grandma and Grandchild in Embrace
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