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Develop and Support Families

Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association, Missouri*

This is one of 31 program profiles that appears in Support Matters, Lessons from the Field on Services for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care Families (PDF – 2 MB), published March 2015.

*August 2017 update: The organization is now called FosterAdoptConnect.

Overview        

The Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association provides an array of services to recruit, license, train, and support foster, adoptive, and kinship care families in the western half of Missouri.

Population Served

Foster, kinship care, and adoptive parents of all types who live in, or have children from, the states of Missouri and Kansas. The association provides support to about 850 foster, adoptive, and kinship care families each year.

Theory of Change

Children who have suffered trauma heal and thrive best in the context of family, and information and support can strengthen these families and ensure the best outcomes for children.

Provider

The Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association is a nonprofit social service agency. The organization has its main office in Kansas City, and six chapters around Missouri that provide programming in their communities.

Role of Public Child Welfare Agency

The Missouri Department of Social Services funds almost half of the support services budget and is a partner in program development and implementation.

Key Service Components

  • Advocacy and support — Individual family advocates help families resolve problems and reduce barriers as they work through the system.
  • Parent mentoring — Called Strengthening Our Families, this program has adoptive or foster parent mentors engage and guide new parents through their first year after placement.
  • Respite care — The program certifies, trains, and makes referrals to respite providers who can provide adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers a needed break.
  • Youth mentoring — The agency connects youth in need with trained and supported adult mentors to increase their opportunities for educational success or career development.
  • Support groups  —The agency sponsors a number of ongoing regional peer support groups, as well as two specialized groups—one for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and another for parents raising children who have reactive attachment disorder.
  • Training — The association offers two annual conferences for parents and monthly training on a variety of topics chosen by parents. In addition, parents can participate in specialized training to improve their ability to care for children with special behavioral needs.
  •  Information sharing — A print newsletter and email updates provide information and resources to caregivers and local child welfare professionals.
  • Crisis case management — Family advocates help families in crisis make a plan to resolve the problems they are having.
  • In-home residential treatment — A pilot program offers 15 families professional residential treatment in their own home. Professionals come to the house to address difficult behaviors, while parents are able to provide love and nurturing, and the child remains at home with the family.
  • Other—The program provides children with clothes, toys, school supplies, and other items, and offers a food pantry for families. With funds from a local law firm, the agency helps children in foster, adoption, and kinship care pursue activities or programs to develop their skills or talents.

Outreach Efforts

  • The state provides the agency with a list of all foster and adoptive families, and agency staff reach out to those families to inform them about services.
  • Staff attend pre-service trainings; participate in local, regional, and statewide boards and committees; contribute articles to statewide newsletters; and link the association’s website to the Children’s Division and other agencies websites.
  • Many families learn about available services from other adoptive, foster, and kinship care families.

Staffing

  • 3 individual family advocates — 2.5 full-time equivalent
  • 2 advocacy supervisors — .5 full-time equivalent
  • 1 training director — .5 full-time equivalent
  • 1 youth development program director — 1 full-time equivalent
  • 3 licensing workers/family advocates — 3 full-time equivalent
  • 1 licensing supervisor/family advocate — 1 full-time equivalent

Support services and mentoring are provided by foster, adoptive, or kinship parents. Young adults who have been in foster care or who have been adopted serve as mentors to youth.

Training Requirements

  • Staff receive up to 30 hours of training each year, specific to their job. Training includes diversity and cultural competence. Many staff have a master’s degree in human services or social work.
  • New staff learn by shadowing more experienced staff.

Evaluation and Outcomes

Evaluation Design

The association evaluates each of its services by tracking families served and assessing outcomes whenever possible. Each training is evaluated through surveys following the event.

Key Findings

  • 96 percent of foster families licensed by the agency have been retained as foster parents, for a minimum of one year. This statistic is measured annually.
  • In fiscal year 2013, crisis intervention services prevented 32 adoption disruptions and stabilized more than 100 families.

Approximate Annual Budget for Services Described

$450,000

Funding

  • About 45 percent of the budget is provided through a contract from the Missouri Department of Social Services.
  • Other funding is from private donations and grants, including a large grant from the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and fundraising events generating more than $100,000 per year.

Partnerships Required or Recommended

The support services are a result of a partnership with the Missouri Department of Social Services. The agency also partners with other state agencies (health and children’s justice), local private foster care and adoption agencies, and community-based organizations. For example, the association is a subcontractor on state grants to other local child welfare organizations.

Challenges

  • Raising funds, especially for youth programming
  • Responding to increases in the number of children and youth coming in to care
  • Maintaining a diverse, passionate staff

Background

The Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association was founded in 1999 as a small foster and adoptive family support group, and is now a multiservice agency. The association plans to open a Kansas chapter by the end of 2015.

Learn More

Sources

  • Lori Ross, interview, July 1, 2013.
  • Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association, annual report 2011/2012.
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