In every service we provide, Ampersand Families is dedicated to helping youth build and strengthen their connections to relatives, kin, community and culture. As our name implies, we are about ‘and’ – adding more people to a youth’s circle of support.

Thank you for selecting Ampersand Families. We look forward to partnering with you.

To make a referral, you can select the link for the referral form below. If you would like to learn more about each program before making a referral, scroll down to read a brief description of the youth programs we offer.

Please note: Child Specific Recruitment, Relative Search & Engagement, Heart Gallery, & Kinship Home Study referrals are only for Child Welfare Professionals.


We welcome referrals of youth age 10 and older (or sibling groups with at least one youth age 10+) for child-specific recruitment services under the Public Private Adoption Initiative (PPAI) with MN Department of Human Services. Only youth who are under guardianship of the Commissioner (‘state wards’) and who are registered on the State Adoption Exchange may be referred for this service, which is provided at no cost to referring counties.

Child-specific recruitment is intensive, focused efforts to achieve permanency for older youth. Activities include relative/kin search and engagement, outreach to people the youth already knows or people who have specialized interests or skills that are a great fit for the youth as well as matching with potential families who are registered on the state adoption exchange. Engagement, support and preparation for the youth, including lifebook work, are also integral parts of child-specific recruitment.

Ampersand Families’ Permanency Specialists are seasoned professionals with small caseloads ready to work hard as they partner with counties, youth, families, foster parents and others to achieve permanency for all youth.

Make a Child Specific Recruitment Referral


We are excited to welcome referrals for Innovative Relative Search and Engagement Services for children age 6+ (or sibling groups with at least one child age 6+). Only youth who are under guardianship of the Commissioner (‘state wards’) may be referred for this service, which is provided at no cost to referring counties or tribal social service agencies under the Public Private Adoption Initiative (PPAI) with MN Department of Human Services.

Key Components:

  • Intensive relative search and engagement efforts for a 45 day service period helps county/tribal workers keep up with recently strengthened statutory requirements for relative search
  • All efforts are documented in the “Connect Our Kids” tool so counties, tribes, and child specific recruiters can continue to build on this work
  • Can be combined with child specific recruitment efforts or as a stand-alone service

Make a Relative Search & Engagement Referral


The Minnesota Heart Gallery helps children and youth waiting for adoptive families see themselves as they never have before. Together, youth, photographers and families raise community awareness around adoption, foster care and permanency. Most important, these images are used to recruit families for Minnesota’s waiting youth, helping them to picture a more hopeful future.

Make a Heart Gallery Referral

For more information about the Heart Gallery Program, visit the Minnesota Heart Gallery Website


Counties and tribes can refer one or more relative/kin for a comprehensive home study assessment of their readiness to be a permanency resource for a specific child or sibling group. Referrals can be made before or after a TPR (in pre-TPR situations, at least one of the children needs to be 8 years old). In all cases, we take a flexible, strength-based approach in our assessment process, and maintain regular open communication with the referring tribe or county.

Counties and tribes maintain ultimate decision making of where the child or sibling group will be placed. If a decision is made to not place the child/sibling group with the relative/kin, our agency can assist with establishing appropriate contact plans, if requested.

It is our strongest wish to provide counties with thorough assessments of potential permanency resources so that the county has access to excellent information upon which to base its placement decisions. We also want to support relatives and kin so that they can rest assured that they have done everything possible when they want to step forward to provide a home for a youth they know, who cannot be returned to their parent/s’ home.

Make a Kinship Home Study Referral


MYVoice (aka “Minnesota Youth Voice”) programs are open to Minnesota youth ages 12-22 with experience in the foster care and/or adoption systems. We support youth-led education, connection, and change. Please fill out this form if you are a youth interested in MYVoice or want to refer a youth you know to MYVoice programming. Please also follow us at @mnyouthvoice on Instagram, Emily.Ampersand on Facebook, and check out our website at

Make a MYVoice Referral


The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT)® is a developmentally sensitive, neurobiology-informed approach to clinical problem solving. Developed by the Child Trauma Academy (, it provides a comprehensive assessment model that will help identify the impact childhood trauma may have had on a child’s brain development and make concrete suggestions for future interventions. To learn more about NMT®, download this NMT® Handout

Please Note:

We currently have a 6 month waitlist for full assessments. Brief Consults can be completed while a youth is on the waitlist.

Make a NMT® Referral

Why choose Ampersand Families?

“After working with Ampersand Families, I didn’t have a hint of cold feet. Before meeting my son, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve.”


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