It has been a few months since we gathered with more than 2,000 global child welfare advocates and faith-based leaders in Nashville, Tennessee at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit (CAFO2017). Attendees heard from renowned speakers, shared ideas, and asked themselves, as CAFO President Jedd Medefind put it, “what does the world need most from me?”
For the Faith to Action Initiative, CAFO2017 was an opportunity to build relationships, share our resources, and host family care experts in our Effective Strategies for Transitioning to Family-Based Care workshop. The workshop was facilitated by Faith to Action’s Executive Director Sarah Gesiriech, and panelists Dr. Delia Pop of Hope and Homes for Children and Tara Garcia of Identity Mission shared practical information to consider when transitioning from residential care to family care. The audience had several questions for the panel about transitioning their care for children from a residential model to care within families.
In response, Delia shared five essential steps to transitioning to family care to ensure the safety and successful family placement of each child.
- Engage Others. Clearly communicate your reasons for wanting to transition to family care to relevant stakeholders. During the transitioning process, show the results of what is working to your supporters to make certain they are on the same page as you.
- Take Action with Evidence-Based Best Practice. Best practice tells us the best interest of the child must be at the center of any transitioning process. For each child in your care, collect background information including the reason they have been placed in residential care, the current circumstances of their family, and their individual needs.
- Aggregate the Information. Take the information you have collected on each child and determine which children are able to return home, who can be placed for adoption, who require special needs care in a foster home, and who will need independent living supports.
- Support the Transition Process. Often children who have been raised in residential care know very little about the outside community and need to be supported as they acclimate. When children arrive in their ultimate placement, they and their caretakers will benefit from continued support to ensure a safe and loving environment.
- Monitor and Evaluation. At the end of the transition process for each individual child, reflect on all that has been accomplished and what you have learned from both the successes and mistakes. Monitoring and evaluation allows you to recognize and resolve the problems you have encountered in order for family separation prevention systems to be put in place for future children.
Finally, Delia stressed, “when you commit to the transition, commit to it.” Make the commitment, no matter the hurdles, to see the transition process through.
To learn more about important key steps in the transition process, Faith to Action has several free resources available including our recently released Transitioning to Family Care for Children Guidance Manual and Tool Kit.
You can listen to the entire workshop and any other CAFO2017 workshops you may have missed on the CAFO website.