Program Spotlight: Kinship Center’s Family Finding Program

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“Family finding is designed to find a child’s family members and bring them together to a Blended Perspective meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to identify the child’s greatest unmet needs. Our goal is to find and establish a kinship network to support these children, further promoting permanency.”



-Patricia Ramirez, Family Finding and Engagement Specialist


The Family Finding model seeks to build or maintain the youth’s Lifetime Family Support network for all youth who are disconnected or at risk of disconnection through placement outside of their home and community. The process identifies relatives and other supportive adults, estranged from or unknown to the child, especially those who are willing to become permanent connections for him/her. Upon completion of the process, youth have a range of commitments from adults who are able to provide permanency, sustainable relationships within a kinship system, and support in the transition to adulthood and beyond. Keeping safety at the forefront and using a family-driven process, families are empowered to formulate highly realistic and sustainable plans to meet the long-term needs of children and youth. Child outcomes may include increased reunification rates, improved well-being, and placement stability, transition out of the child welfare system, decreased re-entry rates, and stronger sense of belonging for children.

Goals
The goals of the Family Finding model are to:

1. Support foster youth in developing meaningful and enduring connections with adults who will support them across their lifespan.

2. Ensure safe and stable family-based living arrangements for all youth with dependency needs. For youth in out-of-home care due to protection needs, ensure a timely and permanent exit from the formal service system through the development of a resilient and comprehensive network of supportive adults.

3. Support youth in developing a healthy sense of identity and regain dignity as well as providing family members with the opportunity to meet the needs within their family system. Enable young adults emerging from care to live safely and productively within their communities.

4. For individuals with lifetime care needs, increase connectedness, decrease dependence on the formal service system, and enhance family-driven decision making.

5. For all individuals, prevent recidivism within or between formal service systems, including prevention of youth “graduation” into the adult correctional system.

Essential Components
The essential elements of the Family Finding model include:

1. Urgency: Family Finding views meaningful, supportive, permanent relationships with loving adults to be an essential need that is closely tied to youth safety. Family Finding asks practitioners to urgently pursue these relationships for lonely youth by assertively engaging family and strongly challenging the structural barriers to developing or strengthening these relationships.

2. Expanded definition of permanency: Although physical legal permanence is an explicit outcome for most cases, Family Finding defines permanency as a state of permanent belonging, which includes knowledge of personal history and identity, as well as a range of involved and supportive adults rather than just one legal resource.

3. Effective relative search: Family Finding employs a variety of effective and immediate techniques to first identify no fewer than 40 relatives or other meaningful connections for each youth. The number 40 serves to create a large group of people from which to form a smaller tight-knit, unconditionally committed permanency team.

4. Family-driven processes: Family Finding recognizes that families are disempowered by the placement of relative children outside of the family system, and it seeks to remediate that harm through identifying the strengths and assets of each family member and facilitating processes through which families are able to effectively support their relative children.

5. Development of multiple plans: The Family Finding process will result in not just one plan for legal permanency, but multiple plans that are each able to meet the needs of disconnected youth. No fewer than three plans are developed and evaluated by family members to ensure that they are realistic, sustainable, and safe.

6. Well-defined and tactical procedures: Family Finding begins first with careful preparation and alignment of current team members in order to pursue the six steps of the Family Finding model. While it is a strongly values-based model, it also has clear and definable goals and activities that are easily tracked with a fidelity tool. The six steps include:

Discovery
Engagement
Planning
Decision Making
Evaluation
Follow-up on Supports

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ROBIN DETTERMAN

Robin Detterman serves as Seneca’s Chief Program Officer of Educational Services where she provides leadership for the agency’s continuum of district and charter partnerships and five non-public schools, serving over 100 districts and schools in California and Washington State each year. Ms. Detterman started working at Seneca in 2005, and her experience asa special education teacher and administrator informs her current role. In this role, she supports Seneca’s education teams in the development and implementation of high quality, individualized services for students who need additional support at school while working to transform whole schools and school systems into places where all students are welcomed and can thrive. Ms. Detterman holds a MA degree in Special Education and is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned a Masters degree in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership. She is the co-author of Unconditional Education: Supporting Schools to Serve All Students (Oxford University Press, 2019).


NATHANIEL FOSTER

Nathaniel Foster is the Chief Advancement Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies. His focus is on development, fundraising, venture philanthropy, marketing and branding for the whole organization. Nathaniel came to Seneca with a clarity and depth of fundraising knowledge that has accelerated our overall efforts. Nathaniel graduated from the University of Denver with a BS in business and also has his Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University. He has over a decade of experience in the non-profit development & management world, working with local, national, and international organizations. Previously Nathaniel was the Executive Director of Playworks, anonprofit that serves over 700,000 children every school day, concentrating on conflict resolution, leadership skills, emotional intelligence and increased physical activity for elementary schools throughout the country. Before that, he was the Chief Development & Marketing Officer at Lincoln, formerly Lincoln Child Center. He has spent his entire nonprofit career in development, fundraising, board development, venture philanthropy, and communications and is very excited to be working with an organization as wonderful as Seneca Family of Agencies. In addition, he was co-chair for the Oakland Quality Community Schools Committee, currently sits on two for-profit boards, and is a member of the San Francisco Chapter of the Private Asset Liaison Group


MICHAEL ALONSO

Michael Alonso is the Chief Information Officer for Seneca Family of Agencies. Since joining Seneca in 2003, he has provided leadership for all technology related operations throughout the organization. He is responsible for IT strategy and vision as well as oversight for the teams that create and maintain a robust information technology environment in addition to the teams that develop, deliver and support innovative applications specifically created for Seneca’s unique blend of services.Michael is passionate about designing and producing creatively unique solutions to increase efficiency and improve service delivery and is personally involved to a significant degree in Seneca’s application development process. In addition to internally-focused activities, Michael engages with organizations at the county, state and federal levels to represent the technology-related interests and perspective of both Seneca and the broader community of behavioral health providers. These organizations includecounties, other behavioral health providers, state advocacy groups and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT). Before coming to Seneca, Michael worked in the custom software industry, developing applications tailored for a wide variety of companies representing numerous industries such as healthcare, retail, technology, non-profit and more. During this time, he took an interest not just in the software development process, but also in the broader perspective of organization-wide information technology environments. Michael holds a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU Hayward (now CSU East Bay)

JANET BRIGGS

Janet Briggs, Chief Financial Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies, began her endeavor in finance by achieving her bachelors’ degree in Business Economics with an Accounting Emphasis from the University of California Santa Barbara. Janet began her career in Public Accounting working in various industries gaining extensive experience in accounting and business management and then specializing in providing audit and accounting services for various not for profit social service agencies as a CPA. Her in-depth understanding of accounting issues and regulations unique to not for profit agencies has distinguished Janet as a knowledgeable source and leader for this company. Since coming to Seneca in 2002, Janet has supervised and trained an ever-growing accounting staff on various accounting policies and procedures pertaining to Seneca programs. Not only does she review and monitor numerous county and state contracts, Janet also oversees all fiscal activity for over 150 programs in 20 different counties. Attending monthly fiscal program meetings, Janet is dedicated to effectively communicating with directors and managing the financial integrity of Seneca. In an effort to constantly improve practice and management skills, Janet regularly attends conferences and trainings specific to her role at Seneca. In addition to her successes here at Seneca Family of Agencies, Janet also is a mother to two wonderful boys.


KEN BERRICK

Ken Berrick is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Emeritus of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to children and families through comprehensive mental health, education, juvenile justice, placement and permanency services. Since its founding in 1985, Seneca has developed innovative programs ranging from Wraparound and Intensive Treatment Foster Care, to integrated mental health services in schools, and a crisis continuum of care for youth and their families. Mr. Berrick is Governor-appointed Commissioner on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. He is also a Governor’s Appointee on the California Child Welfare Council, where he co-chairs the Behavioral Health Committee, tasked with developing best practice recommendations to guide policy and inform statewide efforts to effectively address the behavioral health needs of children involved in or at risk of involvement in the child welfare system. Mr. Berrick is a two-time former President of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services and serves on numerous policy planning groups in California at both the county and state-level. He is an elected member and Past-President of the Alameda County Board of Education, and Past-President of the California County Boards of Education. In 2014, he was recognized by California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth as Advocate of the Year. In 2017, he was a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, and in 2021, a recipient of the Jefferson Bronze Award. He is co-author of the books, Unconditional Care: Relationship-Based, Behavioral Intervention with Vulnerable Children and Families (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Unconditional Education (Oxford University Press, 2019).

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LETICIA GALYEAN

Leticia Galyean is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing Unconditional Care to youth and their families throughout California and Washington State. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley.

Leticia began her career with Seneca in 2001 as a Wraparound counselor inspired by the passionate belief that the effects of childhood trauma should be patiently and persistently supported in the context of family and community. Throughout her tenure at Seneca, Leticia has served as Program Director; Regional Executive Director; Executive Director of Data, Evaluation, and Strategic Initiatives; and Chief Operating Officer.

She has developed, led, and evaluated numerous programs across the Bay Area and Central Coast, assisting youth and their families to meet their behavioral health, academic, and permanency goals. Leticia is a frequent presenter at national conferences on Seneca’s Unconditional Care treatment model and behavioral health interventions. As CEO, Leticia oversees all aspects of Seneca including 150+ programs, with 1,400+ employees, serving 18,000+ youth and their families, annually.

She has served as a member of several policy development groups in California at both the county and state-level. Leticia also serves as an active member of the California Alliance for Child & Family Services, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and is a Board member of SOAR for Youth. From the time she was a counselor through her entire tenure at Seneca, Leticia has led with the vision to strengthen the larger systems of care for our most vulnerable youth and their families.