Collaborative Family Engagement: Why it’s more crucial than ever for children in care.

By Jenn Engel, CASA Case Supervisor and Collaborative Family Engagement Lead Facilitator

This is a crucial time to identify and maintain positive connections through Collaborative Family Engagement for our CASA children under CPS Care.

Due to COVID-19, CASA Advocates and CASA staff have had to make several adjustments in Advocating for children in foster care by working remotely, gathering on various Zoom calls or phone conferences, and visiting our CASA children virtually. One thing hasn’t changed is that we have all been able to continue to stay connected and maintain important relationships, both professionally and personally, by reaching out to family, friends, co-workers, Advocates, neighbors, etc.

Collaborative Family Engagement is more important than ever to be sure our children in care are also staying in contact with positive family members, friends, therapists, caseworkers, former teachers or any other positive adults by phone, virtual calls, letters, email, and social media apps. It is our role and responsibility as CASA Advocates to gather insight of the family and identify any positive adults from the child’s or family’s network who can be involved. These adults can possibly help a relative caregiver or fictive kin placement to transport, provide respite care, or help with any other resources to meet the child’s needs without heavily relying on CPS or CASA.

You can download the Collaborative Family Engagement Pocket Guide for Connecting with and Searching for Families here: DOWNLOAD.

Utilizing Collaborative Family Engagement Tools

Please be sure you are utilizing family engagement tools on your cases, especially new cases or IF the child or children doesn’t appear to have a lot of outside support. The tools are a natural way to engage in conversation with the child or family, and learn who they consider to be part of their Lifetime Network.

“Collaborative Family Engagement tools are equivalent in importance to submitting a court report.”  ~ Marilyn McQueeney, CASA Program Director

Find the Tools in Optima

Each of the family engagement tools has a drop down option when entering into Optima including My Three Houses, Mobility Map, Connectedness Map, Genogram, and Collaborative Family Engagement meetings; please be sure you are tracking them in your contact logs. Collaborative Family Engagement tools are easy to complete with a pen and paper, and can be done virtually during this time. Please be sure you receive a copy of it, and it can be uploaded under the documents tab in Optima. The copy of the completed Collaborative Family Engagement tool can also be included in your court report.

Questions, for Support, or to share a success story…

If you should have any questions or would like to share a success story regarding Collaborative Family Engagement, Please contact our Collaborative Family Engagement Lead Facilitator, Jenn Engel at: Jenn@CASASpeaks4kids.com