Family Search and Engagement Specialist

Positions Supervised:           None

Supervised by:                      Program Supervisor

Resume and Pre-Interview Questions:

To apply, we ask that you send a resume and responses to pre-interview questions at this link: We do not require a cover letter.

Once we receive all materials, Program Directors will review and decide whether to extend first interview offers. You should expect to hear back from us within two weeks.

POSITION DESCRIPTION:

The Family Search and Engagement Specialist will be part of an innovative new service area at Ampersand Families focused on locating, engaging, and supporting relative and kin resources for children entering foster care due to child protection concerns.  Part of this position involves working within the parameters of the 30 Days to Family® model, while other cases and activities will be similar in nature in working with urgency and creativity to ensure kids remain connected to relatives once they have been removed from their parents care. The replication is funded through Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS). This is a professional position requiring significant amount of self-direction, team collaboration, irregular hours and travel throughout the state of Minnesota. 

Ampersand Families is partnering with Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition as a replication site for 30 Days to Family®, which has been categorized as an evidence-based practice through the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse. 30 Days to Family® is an intense and short-term intervention that aims to place children with safe and appropriate relatives within 30 days of entering foster care.

This program aims to meet mandates which require states to identify and provide notice of the child entering foster care to all grandparents and other adult relatives within 30 days of the child entering state custody. The concentrated efforts and low caseloads of 30 Days to Family® are designed to make placement with relatives possible, while also aiming to support the family so placement stability is maintained. 30 Days to Family® utilizes workers with experience in child welfare and/or other experience that gives them skills and comfort level required to effectively locate and engage with relatives.

AGENCY SUMMARY:

Ampersand Families provides permanency and adoption services to older youth and families who face barriers to equity in child welfare and champions systemic changes that advance belonging, dignity and hope.

We are seeking experienced professionals who understand the profound impact that child welfare intervention has on the lives of children, youth and families. A successful candidate for this position will be curious about the many ways permanency work can restore belonging, dignity and hope.  An orientation of professionalism and humility that values continuous learning and commitment to give and receive consultation are requirements for successful employment at Ampersand Families. As an organization, Ampersand Families strives to strategically address systemic inequity and barriers to permanency for older youth, youth of color and sibling groups.

Ampersand Families is proud to be an employer of choice with an organizational culture of excellence that embraces humor, learning and collegial support. We employ professionals who are accountable for learning the skills, building the relationships and investing the time required to achieve and support real outcomes for youth, families and excellence in the programs designed to support them. 

Ampersand Families is committed to doing our part to create a more equitable child welfare system.  To that end, Ampersand Families provides equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, nationality, ethnic background, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, marital status, socio-economic status, status with regard to public assistance, political affiliation, veteran status, other non-visible differences and other protected attributes. 

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Work as a team with other specialists and program supervisor to utilize the tools, guides, and practices of the 30 Days to Family® program to identify and contact all known relatives for a child entering foster care.
    • Contact “priority” relatives within one day and contact all relatives out to 4th generation within 5 days of receiving a case.
    • Engage, assess, and support relatives who have interest in playing a role in the child’s life, thinking outside the box to break down presenting barriers
    • Operate with urgency to identify 1 placement resource, and 2 back-up options, for each case. Due to the intensity of this work, typical caseload size is 2 cases at a time, 30-60 days each
    • Meet with relatives in-person in their homes and the community, virtually, and via phone and email
    • Maintain regular communication with case partners regarding progress, barriers, and next steps
    • Build effective relationships with the other individuals, professionals, and agencies or resource partners involved in the lives of each family, and leverage those relationships to achieve permanency. 
    • Manage the documentation required to meet agency and MN DHS requirements for client services, including frequent case noting and case plan summaries
  • Engaged participation during a six-month probation/onboarding period, which will include partnering with more experienced peers in order to develop a deep understanding of the role and the practice orientation of Ampersand Families.  During probation, new employees are expected to be present in the office whenever they are not in the field meeting with families or professional partners
  • Frequent and in-depth consultation with peers to develop strategies, promote creativity and maintain balance in this position which has a potential for higher stress and emotional impact due to constant exposure to stories and painful events in families’ lives.
  • Commit to taking time and asking questions in order to develop a deep understanding of the social and systemic influences that contribute to disparities and over-representation of older youth and youth of color in the child welfare system.  Participate in advancing the Agency’s commitment to anti-racist practices.
  • COVID accommodations: At this time, in-person visits with families are subject to MN DHS and MN Dept. of Health guidance; we regularly monitor the guidance and fluctuate staff expectations.  All our staff have the option to work remotely or in the office at this time, but eventually there will be an expectation of more time in the office.

QUALITIES:

  • Ability to work with an extreme sense of urgency, while remaining calm, cool, and collected
  • Flexible in working schedule and responsive to immediate and unexpected tasks
  • Ability to use creative problem solving and strategizing: “think outside the box”
  • Relentless curiosity and commitment to overcoming barriers; proactive problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to lead and educate the team, family, and stakeholders towards innovative solutions that challenge “services as usual”
  • Strong advocacy skills and strong professional presence
  • “Self-starter”
  • Bold in the face of challenging “business as usual” child welfare practices
  • Ability to utilize a wide range of search techniques to locate individuals and proficiency in the use of electronic tools necessary to work the 30 Days to Family® Program (Microsoft Office suite, Genopro, internet search resources/Family Connections Tool, email, scheduling, etc)
  • Knowledge of the Fostering Connections to Success Act (2008), as well as applicable local statutes, policies, and procedures regarding relative notification and placement.
  • Personal commitment to racial equity work.  Must recognize the ways that race, gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability, and other identities (historically and presently) intersect and impact whether or not youth and families experience child welfare intervention, and what their experience is once they become involved. Willingness to engage in difficult, respectful conversations for the purpose of strengthening the organization, the child welfare field and interpersonal relationships with colleagues.
  • Ability to be flexible, take personal initiative, be self-directed, and manage documentation and multiple deadlines, while embracing a work environment that demands collegial support and consultation and accountability.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills. This position requires the ability to summarize team communication and case narrative in concise and frequent emails and reports.
  • Well-organized, strong attention to detail, and the ability to multi-task.
  • Men and persons of color are particularly encouraged to apply

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Master’s Degree in social work or related field or Bachelor’s Degree and three years’ experience in child welfare, children’s mental health, adoption or foster care required.  Equivalent personal and professional experience may be substituted for some or all of the education requirement.
  • Experience with and passion for family preservation and/or relative/kin search, engagement and support or similar is required.
  • Experience working in permanency/adoption/foster care in Minnesota, direct family support and crisis intervention, children’s mental health and/or trauma-informed care preferred. 
  • Professional licensure is required, as applicable to degree held. Social work licensure supervision (LICSW, LISW, LGSW, LSW) available on-site.
  • Valid driver’s license, insurance coverage, and clean driving record. Candidates for this position must be available for travel throughout the Twin Cities metro and the whole state. Up to 75% of this position is direct contact with relatives/kin.  Much of that contact will be in person, some will be by phone, email or video call. 
  • Fingerprint background check required.

STARTING SALARY RANGE: $43,000-$54,000. 

As part of our commitment to equitable hiring practices, we offer the highest starting salary based on an applicant’s qualifications that the agency is able to pay.  Therefore, we do not engage in salary negotiations at hiring.  There is a 3% pay increase after successful completion of initial 6-month probationary period.

BENEFITS

Ampersand Families has a very competitive benefit package, including Health, Dental, Vision, Life and Long-term Disability Insurance, Retirement Plan, 20 Days of PTO (accrued per year; increases with each year of employment), 10 floating holidays plus Juneteenth and Election Day paid holidays, Paid Parental Leave, and Short-term Disability Bank (accrue 5 days/year of service). 

Employees are provided with a work laptop and work phone. They are also provided with a company credit card to manage expenses in the field. Mileage is reimbursed for local travel, and rental cars are used for longer trips. All staff are provided a budget of $350 yearly for ongoing training and education.

Before accepting an offer, candidate is given an opportunity to meet with current staff to get a further sense of the Agency culture and to ask any questions they may have. 

Ampersand Families acknowledges that this is a time of significantly heightened stress for many in our community, and we recognize that this may impact a candidate’s readiness to apply for a new position. A detailed outline of our agency’s typical hiring process and timeline is included on our website (https://ampersandfamilies.org/contact/job-opportunities/) We encourage interested candidates to submit application materials and indicate if they need flexibility in the hiring process (which may include things like a different pace for interviews, flexibility in interview times).

Employee Signature  _________________________________                     Date_________________

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