What is NIPFC?
The mission of the National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness is to advance permanency for all children and youth, with Family Finding as a core strategy and a method that adds value to service systems. Every child has a family, and family members can be found when we try. Loneliness can be devastating, even dangerous, and is experienced by most children in out of home care. The single factor most closely associated with positive outcomes for children is meaningful, lifelong connections to family. Training may be designed to target specific areas of concern or to sustain learning in established practices. Consultation services offer specific approaches to meet the critical challenge of achieving timely permanency for all who are served
Why NIPFC Was Formed
NIPFC came together to advance permanency and Family Finding as a national priority in order to establish lifelong, permanent family connections for all children. Seneca Family of Agencies consulted with Kevin Campbell, founder of the Family Finding model, to integrate his approach to permanency into our work with children and families. We have extensive experience in implementing, training and consulting on permanency and Family Finding work. From this foundation, we believe that our collaboration will enable us to better advocate at the national level in order to reach more child welfare systems and impact more children and families.
NIPFC provides training, coaching, and implementation support to the staff of child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and disability services organizations. Court systems and community partners are included in our training, which is focused on permanency and lifelong connections.
What Happened to CPYP?
At the completion of the CPYP’s funding cycle, we merged with the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness, founded by Kevin Campbell, hosted by Seneca Center. The intent was to combine the best of what Kevin and CPYP had to offer, to learn and grow together, and to integrate the work into a self-sustaining operation. This partnership was assisted by a bridge grant from the Stuart Foundation.
What did CPYP Accomplish?
The California Permanency for Youth Project (CPYP) grew from an idea in 2002 by Pat Reynolds-Harris to promote better permanency practice, policy and procedure for foster youth in danger of exiting foster care without a lifelong connection to a caring adult. Pat incubated this idea as a Senior Program Officer at the Stuart Foundation, and following the 1st National Youth Permanency Convening in 2002, CPYP was created via funding from the Stuart Foundation in January of 2003. Pat retired from the Stuart Foundation to accept the position as Director of CPYP.
Over its 7 year existence, CPYP collaborated with 20 county child welfare sites and provided training, coaching, and technical assistance to find permanency for older youth, and to start to change the conditions so that permanency is more quickly found for identified youth.
The combined “study” groups of youth during this period totaled 276 (at least three detailed reports were filed by social workers about each youth’s connections and progress to the CPYP evaluation consultant, Craig Evans).
During the periods of the study, county workers helped to establish 206 permanent connections for these youth (most of the youth had been in care for many years, were in group home settings, suffered through multiple placements, were not visiting or did not even know of their family, and would not likely to have developed permanent connections without these efforts). This data only reflects results during the measurement periods—many more of these youth had potential connections identified during the study period, but time elapsed before these potential connections evolved into permanent connections and thus could not be reported.
Sibling connections were improved for 123 youth in the second and third study cohorts (sibling connectedness was not measured in the first study group). Many of these stories included youth discovering they had siblings and meeting them for the first time, or reconnecting after many years of separation. These were some of the most inspirational stories of connection, as well as of regret that the sibling relationships were severed.
50 youth achieved legal permanency during the study periods—again, many more potentially achieved legal permanency following the submission of the final surveys.
The combined pilot groups (counties often sought to employ these methods outside of the group intensively studied, and reported basic outcomes from the work) totaled 594 youth, with 370 youth forming permanent connections during the study periods.
Therefore, a grand total of 576 youth were documented to have created permanent connections to caring adults as a result of these efforts. We know this is only a subset of what actually occurred due to the time and resource limitations impacting data collection. As a reminder, we defined a permanent connection as “An adult who consistently states and demonstrates that she or he has entered an unconditional, lifelong parent-like relationship with the youth. The youth agrees that the adult will play this role in his or her life.” We required that the youth, the adult, the social worker and her or his supervisor agree that the relationship met this definition before we counted it as such.
What is Next for CPYP?
We have renamed ourselves as the National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness (NIPFC) and are continuing to work towards finding a forever family for every child in care.