According to William Wren, Executive Director, Miracle Makers' philosophy did not radically change as a result of its involvement in the HomeRebuilders' project. However, the philosophy was greatly enhanced. Miracle Makers is a community-based organization that emphasizes working with families and considers family reunification its fundamental objective. The HomeRebuilders project provided a great impetus and focus to pursue this goal in a more collaborative approach among management, supervisors, caseworkers, birth parents, and foster parents.
As in other agencies, Miracle Makers was keenly aware of the fragmentation of services for families within the community. The agency staff strongly believed that if the program were to prove successful, other policy initiatives would be necessary. For example, housing and employment were critical resources, and without them family reunification was difficult to achieve. The shortage of other resources and the quality of other programs such as day care, aftercare, and preventive services were also critically important to the success of the program.
In the initial stage, some cases with goals of adoption were changed to reunification. These were cases where the parents were considered marginally involved in planning toward reunification. The heightened focus on family reunification and the diligence of the caseworkers based on the HomeRebuilders philosophy resulted in a significant degree of optimism toward reunification. In some cases, however, this created problems with foster parents who were anticipating adoption. There were also problems engaging foster parents to work in partnership with birth parents. Foster parents were informed of the program changes, and many embraced the principle. However, they found it difficult to put these ideas into practice when the shift in focus became reunification. This was especially true for cases where the child or children had been in care for a considerable amount of time and the foster parents' expectation was adoption.
There was no significant philosophical shift with regard to kinship families because the agency had always viewed and engaged the extended family network as an important resource to achieve permanency. HomeRebuilders did have an effect on independent living. The program led to the realization that there were limited resources available to young people leaving care. Post HomeRebuilders' efforts are being made to address this problem. Miracle Makers is in the process of establishing permanent and short-term housing and related resources and in-home training and support to redress this problem.
Major Changes Initiated During HomeRebuilders for Experimental Group Only:
Agency-Wide Programs During HomeRebuilders:
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