A pilot program to more quickly seek out relatives of children who are detained in LA County’s child welfare system is showing extremely positive results, according to a recent report.

The Family Finding Pilot, originated in a motion co-authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, was launched in November of last year in the Santa Fe Springs and Glendora Department of Children and Family Services offices. During the pilot’s initial six-month period, placement rates with relatives increased from 59% to 81% in Santa Fe Springs and from 58% to 71% in Glendora. This is an important leap, as research shows that placing children with familiar adults helps to ease the trauma they have already experienced.

“I want the first placement to be the best placement,” Supervisor Kuehl said. “I want to move these searches up in time so that we’re looking right away for relatives and appropriate family friends in order to help children already seriously traumatized by removal. If there are any family members or family friends that they have a connection with, we can really mitigate those traumatic events.”

The program also features a Family Engagement component to provide support from a range of family members. Even if a relative is not able to accept placement, they are asked if they are willing to be involved in the child’s life through visits, excursions, phone calls, transportation, or financial support.

Judge Michael Nash, Executive Director of the County’s Office of Child Protection, presented the report to the Board during the July 11 meeting. Given the program’s initial success, Judge Nash is optimistic about the potential for expansion.

“I look forward to helping DCFS expand this program throughout the County,” Nash said.