30 Days to Family® is a short-term intervention to diligently search for a child’s relatives and kin to identify potential placement options and supports.
Initially we search for parents, grandparents, and siblings, but our goal is to identify 80 additional relatives in each case. We identify one primary placement provider and one to two other relatives or kin as potential back-up placement providers. We also look for maternal and paternal relatives.
We make every effort to search for family members and relatives who will keep siblings together, maintain children in their school of origion, and preserve the child’s important relationship with friends and caring adults.
Research shows youth living with relatives while in foster care can lead to improved outcomes. We believe that all families include members who are willing and able to care for children. This program was created by the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition in St. Louis MO and is being replicated by agencies all over the country.
Identify at least 80 relatives or kin in each case
Place 70% of children with relatives or kin within 30 days
Identify at least 1 relative/kin placement option and 1-2 backup relative/kin placement options in each case
Why is it important?
Multiple researchers have found evidence that kinship caregivers provide children and youth with a secure environment and beneficial treatment (Cole, 2002; Hegar, 1993; Herring, Shook, Goodkind, & Kim, 2009; Koh, 2010). There are a host of other positive results from kinship care including stability, fewer behavioral problems, and being less likely to reenter foster care (NCSAW, 2005, Conway & Hutson, 2013; and Winokur, et al, 2008; Sakai, Lin & Flores, 2011; Lin, 2014). Additionally, 30 Days to Family® enables states to comply with requirements of federal law to notify and engage families when children are placed in foster care. With 30 Daysto Family®, the requirements are met with better placement results and outcomes for children and families.
What are the results?
A rigorous, independent study was commissioned to test the 30 Days to Family® theory of change. The study employed a set of four related sub-studies that produced important evidence of the program’s effectiveness:
1. An implementation study that examined implementation fidelity of 30 Days to Family® and differentiated it from services “as usual,” found the following:
The program model, its major components and intended outcomes are well articulated and there is a high level of fidelity in implementing the model.
Child welfare professionals from organizations that work closely with the program on a day-to-day basis view the program very favorably and reported they observed numerous benefits:
For children – reduced trauma, increased stability, preserved family connections, and less time in foster care (confirmed by data in another sub-study);
For families – maintained connections to the child, increased involvement of father and paternal relatives, and stronger formal and informal support system; and
For the child welfare system – better placement options, improved family engagement and decision making, and reduced barriers to relative placement.
2. Analyses of child welfare administrative data comparing children served and not served produced evidence of several notable outcomes. First, the program is highly successful in achieving its primary goal of increasing placements with relatives. At 125 days after entering foster care, 65.2% of those children served had experienced a relative placement compared with 44.3% of the not served population.
Children served who achieved relative placement were an average of two years older and more likely to have a disability of any type. Administrative data also showed the following:
Children served are in foster care fewer days than the matched sample of children not served, and children with a disability who were served remained in care an average fewer days.
Relative placement improves placement stability; overall the likelihood of a placement change was reduced 81% after a child was placed with a relative.
Children placed with relatives are less likely to experience placement in a treatment or residential facility; such placements were experienced by 17.3% of those placed with relatives versus 27.3% of those placed with non-relatives.
4. Interviews with relative and non-relative caregivers of children in foster care found that youth served were more likely to have/maintain connections to their father/paternal relatives and that relative placement was associated with:
Greater involvement in extracurricular/pro-social activities;
Employment/work for pay for youth age 14 and older;
More frequent contact with both maternal and paternal relatives;
More frequent contact and positive relationships with both mother and father;
Caregiver perception of greater availability of emotional support;
Greater availability of some natural supports (e.g., child care/babysitting); and
Greater assistance from natural supports in involving child in pro-social activities
Findings from both child welfare administrative data and caregiver interview data confirm that 30 Days to Family® is successful in achieving its second primary goal to ensure natural and community supports are in place to promote stability for the child.
5. Cost analysis comparing expenses associated with 30 Days to Family® and the “as usual” model of services identified several sources of cost savings:
Fewer days in care: Based on the Missouri cost estimate of $111.79 per day, per child, an average 91.4 fewer days would produce a cost savings per child of $10,217.61, exceeding the per child 30 Days to Family® program cost of $3,247 per child.
For children 9 and older the cost savings are $21,687.26
Lower percentage of children placed in medical, mental health, and residential treatment facilities result in reduced child welfare placement and Medicaid expenditures.
Greater likelihood of exiting foster care to guardianship, contributing to reduced days in care.
Greater placement stability that reduces child welfare administrative costs associated with moves.
The full findings of this independent study will be published in a peer-reviewed journal later in 2017.