There are many different ways to begin working with other adoptive and guardianship families. Send them a quick email (if provided). Let them know that you get the privilege to be their Parent2Parent Advocate. You may need to briefly remind them about your role. I do send out a letter to the family with the Advocate’s name and contact information, so they should be aware. Tell them a little about yourself and that you plan to touch base with them soon. You should be the one to reach out first to the family and there should not be a long period of time between when the case is assigned to you and when you have initial contact. A family should be contacted within one week of being assigned. Before reaching out to the family initially, contact the Permanency Support Specialist to gather more information. This being said, if you are struggling to reach the Permanency Support Specialist or the family, please let me know right away.
Your involvement will be different with every family. Again, you should reach out to the family within one week of the case being assigned to you. When you have your initial two-way contact, ask the family what works best for them, type of contact, how often, etc. If you can set up a scheduled time, great…if not, no worries, it does not have to be that structured. Life gets busy, so having something scheduled on the calendar means the call or meeting is more likely to get happen.
Please do not let too much time go by without having some sort of contact with the family. Some Advocates may feel like they are being a “burden” but usually, that is not the case, and families do not feel that way. They like to know people are thinking about them, sending them well wishes and doing some “homework” on their behalf. If the family seems too busy to talk on the phone or meet in person, send them a note, a card or an article/resource by email or mail, just be sure to keep that open dialogue going, these are great reminders to let them know you are still there.
It is up to you how much information you share about yourself with the family but it can definitely help them feel more comfortable with you knowing more about you, your family, and your experience with adoption/guardianship. Share what you are comfortable with sharing. There is nothing stating you have to tell them everything about your life or the lives of your family members.
Be ready with a few questions to ask them to help them know where to begin. These questions may be things like:
- Can you tell me more about who is in your family household (names, ages, biological/adoptive/guardianship child)?
- Do you work outside of the home? If so, what do you do?
- What else keeps you and your family busy (family activities, school, sports, etc.)?
- Do you like to read? Attend training?
First and foremost, make sure you have the accurate contact information (double check with me). Try another method of contact if you have not done so already. There are many ways to reach out, including, text, phone calls, emails, face-to-face, mail, and social media. There may be more than one form of contact that works best for them, don’t be afraid to use other methods. If all else fails, and it has been weeks since you have heard anything back from them, notify me and I will get in touch with their PSS to figure out what is going on.
An Initial Assessment Form should be completed and returned to me after the first couple of contacts with a family (or no later than one month after a case has been assigned to you). This is important because it will help you identify (and refer back to) the families strengths and needs. It will also help you follow a plan to support them the best that you can. This form does not have to be updated for my sake; however, I would recommend you keep a copy as it may be helpful to add to it as you go along.
The Contact Documentation Form should be completed each time you have contact with a family (no matter the type of contact). You do not need to provide lengthy details, just summarize what was discussed during the contact, if there were any additional supports or resources recommended, and your plan for follow up. If there are several attempted contacts you do not need to fill out a form for each of these. These may all go on one form. These are due to me no later than the 5th of each month for the prior month (example: December’s information is due by January 5th ). Keep these forms handy at home and in your car so that you can jot the notes down while they are fresh in your brain. These forms are important because they show all of the work that is being done to support the family! This documented information is necessary for the family’s file per the contract Right Turn® has with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
If you prefer to fill out these forms electronically – they are also available below: