3. Identify And Engage Kin At Every Step

Kin first states are ones that begin identifying a child’s extended family network from the moment the child comes to the attention of the child welfare system.

Agencies should explore a connection with all identified kin and assess for their capacity to protect children and help them thrive, regardless of their race, ethnicity, cultural heritage, sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Kin can play multiple roles during a child’s involvement with the child welfare system. They can support children and parents with open child protection cases, provide homes for children in foster care, help children stay connected to family while in foster care, including children in group care, and support families once the children return home.

Strategies to identify and engage kin include:

  1. Make family search and engagement a priority at multiple stages, not only when children are first removed from parents’ care.
  2. When engaging kin, focus on the role they can play to help children preserve healthy family connections, even when the children are not placed with them.
  3. Use a combination of casework and technology to identify kin.
  4. Identify and engage fathers and paternal relatives.
  5. Use family team meetings to identify, engage, and educate kin.
  6. Engage tribes early in e orts to locate family placements and supports for American Indian and Alaska Native children. Be familiar with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act and how this can shape work with kinship homes.
  7. Document the family connections identified so the results of family search and engagement are retained for all parties working with the family throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system.


Click here to download the full wikiHow guide

Click here to download the full Kinship Promising Practices brief


Promising State Examples

Kin Mobilization Webinar- Asking Youth About Their Kin

Steven Jessen-Howard 0 1

Materials from 6/20/24 webinar hosted by the Grandfamilies & Kinship Support Network focused on why it's important to ask youth about their kin and how you can support staff in engaging youth in this process. Applicable links:


Webinar recording

Webinar slides

Genogram Sample 1

Genogram Sample 2

Scripts & Questions for Modeled Conversations with Youth about Kin

Broward County’s Guide to Engaging Relative & Non-Relative Caregivers

Link to additional kin-focused tools & resources from the Government Performance Lab

Kin-Finding Toolkit

Steven Jessen-Howard 0 0

Toolkit featuring promising practices that have been helping child welfare agencies across the country increase their kin placement rates. Every practice comes with the necessary real-world tools, such as sample policy language and forms to help you take away new strategies and resources to adapt for your own system or organization. The ideas and materials in this toolkit were compiled from over 35 child welfare agencies across the country who are part of the Child Welfare Playbook & Resource Family Working Group.


Also see the webinar recording and presentation slides about improving your results in kin-finding and placement.

Increasing Kinship Care Placements and Support through better Family Finding and Engagement

Heidi Epstein 0 1

Paper based on interviews with more than 40 agencies across 10 states which outlines the key challenges and success factors to increasing kinship care placements and summarizes how technology can help practitioners better identify and engage kin and save worker time.

Missouri Extreme Recruitment & 30 Days to Family

Emily Peeler 0 219

Missouri increased family finding through Extreme Recruitment and 30 Days to Family. Extreme Recruitment is a 12–20-week intensive intervention to identify kin for the hardest to place children by using staff and a private investigator to mine records of the children to identify and locate relatives and kin to be explored for potential placement. Introducing private investigators to the program increased contact with relatives from 23% to 80%. The process involves weekly meetings of the youth’s team and follow-up until the youth achieves permanency. 30 Days to Family in Missouri builds off the success of Extreme Recruitment and focuses on entry into foster care rather than focusing on youth once they are deemed hard to place while in care. This program places equal focus on finding maternal and paternal relatives. The goal is primary placement with kin in addition to locating two-to-three backup kinship placements.

Kinnect to Family Ohio

Ohio's Kinnect to Family is a specialized intense family search and engagement program.

Emily Peeler 0 273

Ohio uses Kinnect to Family, a specialized intense family search and engagement program that is similar to Missouri’s 30 Days to Family program. Kinnect to Family expands on 30 Days to Family by allowing all foster youth, not just those entering care, to be eligible. The program works with families before children are removed so they avoid foster care entry when possible

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