EVOLVE Adoption & Family Services isn’t strictly an adoption agency.
We focus on the best ways to meet children’s needs, and the first choice is keeping a child within his or her biological family. That goal, CEO Nicole Deters has said, requires a breadth of services.
“It is odd, I think, for an adoption agency to be doing family preservation work, foster care work and adoption work where you have a continuum of services for a child, but that’s what we should be doing,” she said.
In recent years, EVOLVE bolstered its programming to empower families to be a base for children. Many of these changes center in our Family & Youth Services programs.
“For children to grow up and be the best that they can be, a family is a basic need,” Deters said.
Senior Programs Manager Jessica Boner said EVOLVE’s “wrap-around services” set us apart as an agency in that we strive to help clients in multiple ways.
“Overall, EVOLVE is very excited to be growing these programs and to be able to offer these programs,” she said.
Here’s a brief outline of some key programming in Family & Youth Services:
Therapeutic Supervised Parenting
One of our newer services aims to address racial disparities in the child protection system — particularly pertaining to the Native American and African American communities— through a Minnesota Department of Human Services grant to serve Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Our team members meet one to three times a week for two hours at a time with families where a child or children have been removed from the home to help address issues and reunite the family.
“’The ultimate goal for the parent and child is reunification, that the child can go back with the parent,” Boner said.
Other goals include helping the family with parenting skills and providing support to the family, helping them address issues such as: mental health, anxiety, housing and more.
Ideally, a clinical social worker — one with a master’s degree in social work — and an intern meet with the family.
Families in the program face many barriers to service, such as: housing, transportation and other concerns pertaining to basic needs.
EVOLVE is working toward ways to help families address these concerns in the future.
Brief Counseling Services and Families First
In these programs, we support a child and family as they enter the child protection system, addressing the issues that brought them to this point. These typically are short-term programs which last about three to four months with intensive and regular in-home visits. We aim to address the crisis and connect the family with support and resources in the community. But one challenge in this program is helping families overcome barriers to resources, whether it’s difficulty with transportation or lack of resources within their community. EVOLVE currently provides this service through a contract with Dakota County.
Supportive Services to Foster Care Providers
Our newest program debuted this year with a Dakota County contract. It focuses on licensed foster families that could benefit from therapeutic crisis support in the home.
Through phone consultations and home visits and meetings, EVOLVE workers gather information to assess the situation and then connect the family to resources and assistance in their community.