Relative Search and Engagement Specialist


Job Type: Regular, full-time

Supervised by: Program Director

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 Relative Search and Engagement Specialist plays a key role in locating and contacting relatives and kin for Minnesota foster care youth. This unique position within the agency will give focus on finding and engaging relative/kin that may have been more challenging for counties or tribal social service agencies to identify or contact during the youth’s initial entry into foster care due to child protection concerns.

The concentrated efforts and low caseload of the Relative Search and Engagement Specialist is created to identify positive connections/permanency for youth who have already had a termination of parental rights, by way of relative/kin engagement. The Relative Search and Engagement Specialist will work alongside the child-specific recruiter/county/tribal social service agency during a 45-day service period to ensure that efforts to locate relative/kin is concentrated and effective.

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:

  • Effectively utilize search tools and connection strategies to find and engage relative/kin as positive connection/permanency resources for youth who have been in the foster care system and have already had a termination of parental rights.
    • Prioritize exhausting all efforts to locate and contact immediate relatives within the first 20 days of receiving the case.
    • Utilize the 45 days on the case to identify and contact as many relative/kin as possible and strategically document so that it is easily accessible and understandable to the youth’s workers that will do the ongoing permanency work.
    • Operate with urgency to identify 1 placement resource, and multiple positive permanency resources for each case. Due to the intensity of this work, typical caseload size is 3-5 cases at a time for 45 days working alongside the youth’s permanency team.
    • 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 six-month probation/onboarding period, which will include partnering with more experienced co-workers in order to develop a deep understanding of the role and the practice orientation of Ampersand Families.  During probation, the Relative Search and Engagement Specialist is expected to be present in the office whenever they are not in the field meeting with families or professional partners
  • 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 clients are subject to MN DHS and MN Dept. of Health guidance; we regularly monitor the guidance and fluctuate staff expectations.  At this time some, but not all, visits are required to be in person. 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. Due to the travel required, direct service positions have always been structured to allow for remote work with flexible hours. This will continue after COVID restrictions are lifted.

QUALITIES:

  • Ability to utilize a wide range of search techniques to locate individuals and proficiency in the use of electronic tools necessary to this position (Microsoft Office suite, Genopro, internet search resources/Family Connections Tool, email, scheduling, etc)
  • Social skills to engage relative/kin in effective conversation
  • Flexible in working schedule and responsive to immediate needs for connecting with relatives/kin
  • 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 collaborate with the permanency specialist 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
  • 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 Relative Search and Engagement Specialist to frequently communicate with relative/kin and thoroughly document conversation/information they receive.
  • Effectively be able to collaborate with the child-specific recruiter on cases; be in frequent communication
  • Well-organized, strong attention to detail, and the ability to multi-task.

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). 

Direct service staff 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 thorough outline of our agency’s typical hiring process and timeline is included on our website. We encourage interested candidates to submit application materials and indicate if they need accommodations in the hiring process (which may include a different pace for interviews, flexibility in interview times).

Employee Signature  _________________________________                     Date_________________

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