30 Days to Family®
30 Days to Family® gives state and local agencies powerful tools to ensure more children in foster care can live with family members.
Starting as soon as children enter the system, our rigorous search process identifies and engages more relatives, faster – helping children have greater connection to their siblings, more involvement with their paternal relatives, and find stable homes with family within 30 days.
Once children are placed with family, our robust support plans for both the children and placement providers, promote placement stability, and solidify connections that create better outcomes for children, families and the communities we call home.
The 30 Days to Family® Program was created by the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition in St. Louis, Missouri.
Any questions or ready to talk more? Contact Patrick Pisani, at the Institute.
Learn more about the program research, our work with the clearinghouses and much more here.
We know you have more questions and we’ve got you covered!
Are you ready to replicate? Find everything you need to know here to bring 30 Days to Family® to your agency.
30 Days to Family® Challenges the Status Quo in Child Welfare
30 Days to Family® installs a team of people, usually – but not always – 3 Specialists and 1 dedicated supervisor into a private or public agency. The 3 Specialists carry 2 intensive cases at a time allowing them to serve, on average 20-24 cases per year. A case often has siblings and so we often estimate about 30+ children served per year.
This 30-day intervention is designed to start at the moment a child enters into foster care and aims to have a child living with their family as quickly as possible – hopefully within just a day or 2, but 30 days max. Not only does the program identify a family member to care for the child, but supports are key as well. Setting up the family for success is just as important as getting them with family.
Some hallmarks of 30 Days to Family®:
Black children represent almost one-quarter of the children in foster care in the United States but only 14% of the general population.1 This type of trend has been traditionally understood as a product of institutionalized racial bias within child welfare. Research shows that black children experience more negative outcomes at every stage of a child welfare case.2
We believe justice means working to keep children with their families, their communities, their people. 30 Days to Family strives to do just that, working to make sure that the children served are treated fairly and equitably, and advocating for systemic racism to be eliminated as a factor when making decisions about family involvement for children in foster care. We hope this approach is not only a pervasive part of the 30 Days to Family model, but also sets an example for the child welfare system as a whole.
All case activities in 30 Days to Family® are conducted at warp speed. By the end of the first day we have engaged with all parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, adult siblings, minor siblings’ caregivers, the child, and any other individuals identified by the family as important supports and connections. Every night a child spends in foster care and not with family is a night in crisis, so we waste no time getting to work.
And we don’t stop there! By the end of the first week we’ve mapped out the family through the 4th generation (including an average of 150 family members) and we’ve attempted to make meaningful contact with each and every living adult on the genogram. Whew, it’s exhausting, but these kids deserve it!
Specialists are relentless in their search for relatives and kin. The intensity and creativity that Specialists employ to search for and engage family is inspired by the maxim “What would my family do for me?” Beginning with an online search employing an extensive array of tools, and continuing as one relative identifies another and another, the search and engagement process continues throughout the 30-day period of service.
A 30 Days to Family® Specialist only serves two families at a time. This may seem like a ridiculously low number, but this dedication to only serving 2 families at once is one of the main reasons the outcomes are so incredible. This allows the Specialist to focus on quality conversations, by diving deep into the family dynamics, history, traditions, and natural supports. The Specialist builds true relationships with the families they work with and through this trust, a collaborative approach is utilized to identify not just “a” placement, but “the” placement for every child served.
And once the Specialist has done the incredible work with one family, it’s time for the next. We’ve done the math and although the caseload of 2 seems unheard of and unjustifiable, a 30 Days to Family® Specialist has the potential to serve more children than a traditional case manager due to the time-bound and intensive nature of the work. The Specialist can also end each day knowing they had the time to do all they could for a family.
A sibling relationship is one of the most long lasting and sacred relationships many of us will have over our entire lifetimes. Sadly, children in foster care often lose touch with their siblings, especially those that have not entered the foster system with them. 30 Days to Family® won’t stand for this. Not only is making contact with all siblings of a child being served a priority, but the Specialist will not rest until a robust, sustainable plan for ongoing sibling connections is in place for every child served.
All dads matter! In contrast to practice that often ignores dads, especially in situations where legal paternity hasn’t been established, the Program pursues paternal relatives as vigorously as maternal relatives, often opening new sets of family connections previously unknown. This approach arises from the belief that every child deserves to know who their father is, and every dad deserves to know about his child.
Attempting to keep the children served by the Program in their school of origin is the first priority. If this isn’t possible the Specialist will work tirelessly to assure that all of the child’s educational needs are met regardless of which family member they are placed with. The Specialist has the time to work with the placement provider to help assure they have all of the resources and information needed to support that child in their schooling.
Let’s get creative! There are so many reasons why family members are sometimes overlooked for placement or involvement in a child’s life. It could be issues from background checks, the conditions of the family member’s home, or concerns about how the family dynamics may impact a child’s safety. The 30 Days to Family® Specialist has the bandwidth to dive deep, uncover the true story behind these barriers, and will do everything they can to overcome them collaboratively with the family while keeping the child safe. Again, thinking – what would you do for your own family? Typically no other members of the child’s professional team have the time to do this work!
No one family member can do it alone. We know this. We also know that families, despite any existing drama, are often already supporting each other in incredible and creative ways. We need to tap into that! Specialists ensure that the placement will remain stable by creating a network of support for the placement provider and child. This includes looping in those existing natural supports and connecting the placement provider with community resources for clothing, therapy, Medicaid doctors, transportation, school enrollment, other professional services, etc. We leave no stone unturned.
Every child deserves to be connected to their family. Period. While placement with family is one of the most important goals of the Program, Specialists ensure that relatives are given the opportunity and means to maintain lifelong relationships and support of the children being served, regardless of where they’re placed.
Reflecting the Program’s philosophy that family takes care of family and that families, rather than professionals, are the experts, Specialists are seen by collaborating professionals as playing the role of “convener” with the various family members. This strength-based approach engages the entire family in a problem-solving process in which they decide among themselves the most viable placement, with others agreeing to provide support. Specialists typically provide suggestions on how family members might help, such as with babysitting, respite, transportation, supporting positive activities such as scouting, sports, or spiritual involvement. However, the problem-solving remains with the family. In this way they are empowered and respected, leading to more sustainable plans.