Ampersand Families is a progressive, innovative, inclusive, anti-racist permanency/adoption agency.
Our staff of experienced professionals is ready to partner with you to support youth and families navigating the complex and inequitable child welfare system.
Our current programs and services include:
Kin Link is an innovative program that seeks to preserve and support family connections for kids while they are in care. Research shows that kids have better outcomes and higher rates of reunification when living with relatives while they are in foster care. For more research outcomes see this document on Rethinking the Power of Family Involvement from The Institute for Child Welfare Innovation.
Home Studies & Foster Care Licensing
Ampersand Families is a PPAI agency contracted through MN DHS. As a PPAI agency, our services are offered at no cost to families. We engage with both relative/kin families and non-relative families in the home study and foster care licensing process. Our Family Permanency Specialists encourage families to participate in thoughtful self-reflection, be curious in their learning, gather support, and to be willing to approach parenting through a trauma lens.
We know that relative/kin families are often faced with barriers to licensing and our Family Permanency Specialists work hard to overcome those barriers. It is our best practice to license each family we work with who wishes to be a permanency resource to a child they love, however, on occasion we can work with families in completing an adoption-only home study.
Child Specific Recruitment
Child-specific recruitment is intensive, youth-focused efforts to achieve permanency for older youth. Typical 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, licensed families who are registered on the state adoption exchange. Engagement, support and preparation around permanency for the youth, which includes Lifebook work, are also important parts of child-specific recruitment.
Ampersand Families’ Permanency Specialists are experienced professionals with small caseloads ready to work hard as they partner with youth, counties, families, foster parents and others to achieve permanency for all youth. 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.
We welcome referrals for youth that meet the following criteria:
- Age 10 and older (or sibling groups with at least one youth age 10+)
- There has been a Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)
- Youth are registered on the State Adoption Exchange (SAE)
Relative Search & Engagement
Our Relative Search & Engagement service provides intensive relative search and engagement efforts for a 45-day period. This helps county and/or tribal workers keep up with strengthened statutory requirements for relative search. We partner closely with a youth’s permanency team to identify, contact, and support continued connection between youth and the relatives and kin in their life. All efforts are documented in the “Connect Our Kids” tool so counties, tribes, and child-specific recruiters can continue to build upon this work.
We welcome new 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.
This service can be combined with child-specific recruitment efforts or completed as a stand-alone service.
Parent Consultation Supports
Ampersand Families provides our pre-adoptive families and the pre-adoptive families of youth we are connected to through Child Specific Recruitment with proactive parent consultation around the time a youth/sibling group transitions into the home. We contract with highly regarded adoption and trauma competent therapists for this service, through generous funding from the MN Department of Human Services.
We hear from most, if not all families, that it’s really difficult to access useful parent support, and many parents reach out after things have already gotten really hard. By then, therapists have waiting lists and the process to get started is overwhelming. They wish they had gotten personalized consultation and guidance on things like attachment, handling emotional and behavioral challenges, and navigating the stresses of parenting kids who have experienced trauma. Parent Consultant Support sessions allow us to connect our families with the type of proactive, adoption competent support they deserve.
Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics
The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics™ (NMT) is a comprehensive trauma assessment that identifies the impact of childhood trauma on a young person’s developing brain and offers the building blocks for individualized care. Developed by the Child Trauma Academy, the NMT™ helps identify and prioritize areas of brain development that may need more support and makes concrete suggestions for future interventions.
Minnesota Youth Voice (MYVoice)
MYVoice is the youth leadership program of Ampersand Families. MYVoice welcomes all Minnesota young people ages 12-22 who have lived experience in foster care and/or adoption. Participants meet to plan virtual social events; get paid to create art and do book reviews; can request free art materials and journals; and can be paid to present at advocacy events such as focus groups and panels.
To get a youth you know involved, send us an email or refer a youth via our short online MYVoice Referral Form.