Position Function: The OCOK Connection Specialist’s (formerly OCOK IPS Specialist) primary responsibility is to introduce the concept of family search and engagement to the foster youth and works with the youth’s intensive permanency team to prepare the youth for re-establishing connections with family members or individuals who have been natural supports to the youth in the past. The OCOK Connection Specialist also conducts a concentrated search for family members or natural supports (adults) for assigned youth and develops specific plans for pursuit of re-establishing connections with adults that addresses youth safety. The OCOK Connection Specialist, with the involvement of the youth and youth’s intensive permanence team, develops an individualized plan for legal and emotional permanency as well as a plan for supporting and sustaining the relationships. The position is sensitive to the service population’s cultural and socioeconomic characteristics.
Education Requirements: A bachelor’s degree is required. A master’s degree, with applicable licensures / certifications, is preferred.
Experience Requirements: A minimum of 2 years of experience working in child welfare, with preference given to previous Foster Care, Adoption, Permanency / Conservatorship, and / or Family Based Services. Or equivalent lived experience as a youth in Foster Care, or as a Foster Parent. Experience with outreach and community relations.
- Strong organizing skills and ability to build inter-agency and intra-agency partnerships.
- Excellent public relations skills with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively both verbally and in writing with diverse individuals and groups.
- Strong organizational, planning and coordination skills.
- Ability to mediate, manage conflict and perform successful negotiations.
- Ability to work collaboratively with agency staff and other key stakeholders.
- Ability to work well independently.
- Strong interpersonal and cognitive skills in analysis, assessment, creative and critical thinking, problem solving and decision making.
- Knowledge of and skill in group facilitation.
- Demonstrated knowledge and ability to work effectively with children and youth with special needs and their families.
- Sensitivity and competency in relating to individuals and groups of diverse cultural backgrounds.
- High level of computer competency in Windows environment required and familiarity with search engines and search technology preferred.
- Valid Driver’s License, auto insurance, reliable transportation and ability to travel.
- Ability to drive during day and evening hours to various geographic areas.
Working Conditions: Sitting at computer for long periods of time. The position is sensitive to the service population’s cultural and socioeconomic characteristics.
Exposure to Confidential Information: Maintain confidentiality & follow policies related to personnel records, client records, payroll records, and ACH’s financial records.
Child/Youth Engagement and Preparation
- Assess the youth’s present ability to participate in the Family Search and Engagement (FSE) process and develop a support plan for introducing family search activities to the youth.
- Utilize the Darla Henry 3-5-7 Model of approaching trauma, loss and grief issues with the child/youth in relation to out-of-home placement and preparing for permanency.
- Introduce FSE to the youth and explore youth’s known family network and identify potential family members or natural supports to search for.
- Complete an ecomap, genogram, lifeline, family tree, or other visual diagrams with the youth to assist in identifying potential family or other potential natural support resources.
- Conduct intensive case file review to identify immediate and extended family members for contact.
- Throughout the search process, follow agency guidelines to assure for due diligence regarding confidentiality and securing contact authorization, releases of information, and court orders.
- Utilize internet search engines to research lost family contacts.
- Thoroughly document search findings and keep the youth, intensive permanence team and supervisor informed about search progress.
- Initiate family member or natural supports (adult) engagement activities immediately upon identification of whereabouts of a family or natural support resource (adult).
- Utilize the Six Steps to Find a Family: A Practice Guide to Family Search and Engagement (FSE) to guide the entire family search process.
- Develop an individualized engagement plan for how each identified adult will re-connect with the youth to support his/her permanency efforts.
- Utilize agency guidelines to assess each adult in regard to screening for safety of the youth and the motivation and level of commitment of the adult.
- Educate adult regarding treatment and social needs that impact foster youth and the adverse impact to a foster youth of lack of follow-through of adults who pledge to initiate or re-initiate contact.
- Educate adult regarding the purpose of the intensive permanence team and invite the adult to join the team.
- Communicate with the youth regarding progress in the family and natural supports search process, and prepare the youth for initial contacts, including establishing structure and boundaries for the supervised initial contact (phone, letter, visit, email, etc.) and subsequent contacts.
- Provide opportunities for the youth, family member, natural support adult and foster family to discuss their impressions and feelings regarding the contact of the youth and adult.
- Maintain up-to-date documentation of the FSE process for the youth.
- Research, establish and review formal and informal resources for youth and family members to support permanency.
Permanency Planning and Decision-making
- Assist the youth’s intensive permanence team in exploring and evaluating permanency options for the youth.
- Communicate with the youth regarding progress in the family and natural supports search process.
- Develop and review primary and contingency plans for permanency options for the youth.
- Explore the legal issues regarding reunification, adoption, guardianship or kinship care.
- Contact with the client post discharge will occur monthly (for 6 months) by phone or email (in person as needed) in order to support sustained outcomes and model good relational skills and maintenance of connections with caring adults.
- Provide 6 months of follow up with clients to help ensure sustained outcomes
- Be a source for providing a connection to additional resources that can support sustained outcomes.
- Make referrals to counselors and therapists and other professionals
Intensive Case Coordination/External Relations
- Initiate, develop and maintain relationship with stakeholder with the jurisdiction to ensure positive working relations and maximize collaboration and service delivery.
- Conduct weekly contacts with partners to discuss progress and status of youth connections activities.
- Offer and provide informational sessions to stakeholders as an overview of Family Connections and the Family Search and Engagement (FSE) model.
- Actively listen and probe for quality feedback on OCOK from service consumers (youth), County and Tribal partners and stakeholders.
- Actively listen and probe for unmet needs which might possibly be met by current or potential Anu programs and services.
- Report contacts and findings to designated leaders within the agency.
- Maintain positive public conduct and record consistent with OCOK image in the community.
- Implement continuous quality improvement plans and processes including quality assurance reviews and data collection, analysis of reports to ensure compliance with agency continuous quality improvement (CQI) standards, contracts, and state laws.
- Assist in oversight of case record-keeping and quality practices/processes.
- Review and evaluate the satisfaction surveys and program outcomes quarterly, with staff involvement, in order to identify areas for improvement and ensure quality programs and consumer satisfaction.
- Monitor progress towards program goals and identify ways to continuously improve agency performance towards goals.
- Record and report case data utilizing the Youth Connections Scale and other evaluative tools and participate in all required program evaluation processes.
Please apply online at https://achservices.org/about-ach/join-the-team/