Family Connections Program - Amara

Family Connections Program

Building Connections

Children and youth placed in out-of-home care thrive when they see their parents and caregivers working together as a team. The Family Connections ProgramTM brings parents (whose children are placed in out-of-home care) and those caring for the children (relative caregivers, suitable others and licensed caregivers) together to have a facilitated, collaborative, child-focused conversation. Lead by FCP Certified Peer Mentors, Connections Conversations are designed to be low-key and positive, with a focus on supporting participants as they navigate this unique relationship and develop a plan to partner together to meet the needs of the child(ren) they all care about.

Family Connections: An Introduction

Connecting Parents & Caregivers

We offer support for parents whose children are placed in foster/kinship care and those who are caring for the children as they work to build a collaborative, child-centered partnership.

Our services include:

  • Connections Meetings (in person, virtual and paper options)
  • Caregiver and parent relationship support provided by experienced peer mentors
See More Stories

What will we talk about?

We can talk about:

  • Child’s Routine
  • Child’s Likes & Dislikes
  • Family Traditions & Cultures
  • Communication

What will not be discussed?

We won’t talk about:

  • Case plan
  • Visitation
  • Personal information you are not comfortable sharing

Who will be there?

These people will be there:

  • Child’s Parent(s)
  • Caregiver(s)
  • Parent Ally
  • Caregiver Mentor

Goals

  • Provide easier transitions into foster care
  • Make it faster and more likely for families to be reunited
  • Support child and family wellbeing
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Increase caregiver and parent engagement

 

Who’s Involved?

  • Parent – Parent of a child who is currently in foster care
  • Caregiver – Foster parent or relative caring for the parent’s child while experiencing foster care
  • Parent Ally – A parent who has successfully navigated the child welfare system and can coach other parents involved in child welfare through the steps to reunify with their child
  • Caregiver Mentor – Current or former foster parent who has had relationships with parents while fostering children

 

How It Works

Step one: Parents and caregivers each work with a peer mentor through the process. Parents are matched with a Parent Ally. Caregivers are matched with a Caregiver Mentor.

Step two: Parents and caregivers talk with their mentors in preparation for the first Connections Meeting

Step three: The Parent Ally and Caregiver Mentor work together to lead a Connections Meeting where the parent and caregiver will meet for the first time. This discussion will include:

  • Introductions and information about each other/each other’s family
  • Update on child/ren (from the caregiver to the parent)
  • Information about the child’s routine (from the parent to the caregiver)
  • Information about what the child dislikes and likes (from the parent to the caregiver)
  • Family traditions and culture
  • Plan for communication and relationship building

Step four: Parents and caregivers talk with their mentors after the initial meeting to receive additional support.

 

Interested in Participating?

The Family Connections Program is currently being piloted in King County’s Family Treatment Court. We hope to expand to three additional counties this year. For more information about the program or to get started, visit www.fcpwa.org or email info@fcpwa.org. Please email us at fcp@amarafamily.org to make a referral. If you’d like to share our Family Connections videos and guide a discussion about the importance of relationship building between parents and foster parents, please download our Family Connections Discussion Guide. You can find and screen our videos, on our YouTube page. 

The Family Connections Program was created through collaboration among parents, caregivers (relatives, suitable adults/fictive kin, and foster & adoptive parents), AmaraOlive CrestKing County CASADCYF Child Welfare field and support staff, Parent Allies, The Alliance for Child Welfare ExcellenceFostering Connections for Families LLC, and staff from various Early Intervention agencies with CHERISH programs in King County; as members of the Child Welfare Community Connections Advisory Panel (CWC-CAP) sponsored by CHERISH. 

The Family Connections Program is based on the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Icebreaker Meetings (Icebreaker Meetings – The Annie E. Casey Foundation (aecf.org)).

Support this Program

The Family Connections program model was created in collaboration with other local nonprofit and governmental organizations. Believing in the power of this approach to transform and improve the experience of families impacted by foster care, Amara has invested in making this program possible. We are continuing to seek funding to expand this program to multiple counties across the state. Join us in realizing our vision by making a gift to support our work today.

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Family Connections: Grayson's Story

Katie and Jonathan Biron became foster parents knowing the importance of maintaining relationships between kids and their parents. While fostering Grayson, they formed a close relationship with his biological family who became one large extended family through adoption.

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A Network of Family

Katie and Caitlin, their daughters and their extended family, have created a constellation of people to share their lives with. “Our family has grown…I feel like our lives have been really enriched, but it was always in the purpose of keeping the girls connected to their people. That has felt like we’ve forged really amazing relationships with their birth families and it’s been incredible.”

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