In a Program Called “30 Days to Family®,” Why One Case That Extended Past the 30-Day Mark Exemplifies What This Program Is About

With backing from the Ohio Attorney General’s office from 2017-2019, the 30 Days to Family® Ohio program has gotten a lot of attention lately. 30 Days to Family® Ohio is an impactful program that helps children find loving homes with kin in the shortest time possible.

We begin service within 24 hours of a child entering care, and work diligently toward daily milestones until the child has found a safe and loving home with kin—all with the goal that no child remains in care for longer than 30 days. But with a toddler named Joey, things didn’t go as planned.

Joey entered care due to his mother’s difficulty with substance abuse. Sara, the 30 Days to Family Specialist, maintained fidelity to the 30 Days model throughout the case. She immediately contacted all parents, grandparents, siblings’ caregivers, adult siblings, and aunts and uncles. With a goal of making contact with 5-10 people per day, Sara conducted extensive research to identify more than 90 kinship connections.

Early on, two or three relatives indicated interest in providing a home for Joey. But none of them worked out. Sara turned over every possible stone—some multiple times!—to find placement for Joey. But the case hit the 30-day mark without identifying any placements or back-up placements.

The leadership team considered concluding the case as “unsuccessful.” Sara had worked the model exactly as it was designed, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But Sara was determined that Joey would not grow up in care.

Early on, Sara contacted Joey’s mother’s half-sister, Kathy. Kathy had initially ignored Sara’s messages. Even when another worker visited Kathy’s home in person, Kathy indicated she was not prepared to bring home the child. But Sara understands that abruptly bringing a new child into your home is not a quick decision, so she circled back to Kathy again. When Sara reached out this time, Kathy had clearly thought a lot about it. By the end of the conversation, her focus was on the logistical concerns that would prevent her from providing a home for Joey.

Sara and Kathy worked quickly to resolve every barrier that remained between Joey and his new home. Sara conducted a thorough home study, arranged for a crib to be delivered to Kathy’s home, supported the family to complete benefits paperwork for Joey, and referred Joey to Ohio’s Help Me Grow program for additional support. Sealing the deal, several kin committed to supporting Joey and Kathy with childcare and respite care.

Many factors had to align to prevent this two-year-old child from remaining in foster care today. But in the end, what really made the difference for Joey was the opportunity for his family to come together and figure out a way to care for him.

 

*In Ohio, the average child stays in foster care for 17 months.

** All names and identifying details have been changed.