Improving the Child Welfare System

In addition to helping to create new adoptive families for teens from foster care, Ampersand Families provides leadership and vision in partnership with others to do whatever it takes to make the child welfare system work better for youth and families.  We have a strong commitment to honoring family, kin, community and cultural connections in all aspects of our work.  Our staff provides consultation to other child welfare professionals, provides continuing education and training locally and nationally, and advocates strongly for system improvements at all levels.

Our current initiatives include:

  • Consulting with Minnesota counties to implement a wide spectrum of permanency efforts
  • Advocating for a more transparent and inclusive decision-making process in the matching and transition phases of older child adoption
  • Developing tools to assist prospective parents better manage the data provided to them in the collateral phases of the matching process
  • Offering consultation and support to birth parents when a TPR (termination of parental rights) or TPLPC (transfer of legal and permanent custody) is imminent.  This includes brainstorming to identify a list of possible resources, amongst their relatives and kin, to be considered as permanency options, and connecting birth parents to supportive individuals and community agencies
  • Partnering with leadership at several Minnesota counties to strengthen their engagement of relatives and kin as permanency resources
  • Exploring restoration of parental rights as a permanency option for youth who have been in foster care for 4+ years
  • Conducting training for local, regional and national public and private human services professionals
  • Establishing strategic partnerships with local and national thought leaders addressing issues related to permanency for older youth
  • Raising local and national awareness on the practice of amending birth certificates upon adoption
  • Envisioning a future where we achieve permanency with the least disruption in relationships and living arrangements for youth as possible
  • Building and maintaining the Minnesota Heart Gallery
  • Developing youth and parent leaders whose stories inspire community members to learn more about how they can help

About our Co-Founder & Permanency Innovation & Consultation Director: Michelle Chalmers

Since 1994 Michelle Chalmers has provided training and consultation for more than 250 groups, including National CASA; Colorado Office of the Child’s Representative; Casey Family Services;  South Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program; Hennepin County Guardian ad Litem Program; Hennepin County foster care and Mental Health Crisis Team; Hennepin County Juvenile Courts; Minnesota Children’s Justice Initiative; The Children’s Law Center; and the International Foster Care Organization (IFCO).  She has been an invited speaker on Minnesota Public Radio, the National Governor’s Association (podcast),  Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio and CW Twin Cities.  She has also developed and trained curricula for Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Training System (working with adolescents in foster care, lifebooks, LGBTQ+ competent child welfare and foster care practice).  Michelle received the Hero for Children Award in 2012 from the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, The Breaking Barriers in Adoption Award from Voice for Adoption in 2018 and a Distinguished Service Award from MNAdopt and Minnesota Department of Human Services in 2021.

Our staff have provided consultation regarding permanency services to many Minnesota Counties, including Ramsey, Grant, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Douglas, Fillmore, Winona, Wright Counties.

Contact us to talk about scheduling a consult or training.

Why choose Ampersand Families?

The founders of Ampersand Families wondered if they could turn the clock back on statistics of kids aging out of care. What if more displaced youth experienced the commitment of a permanent, loving family and a safe place to heal? What if they transitioned to adulthood in a network of supportive, committed relationships, with a […]

Laura, Former Board Member

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