ASCI Launches New Office in New Hampshire

ASCI is excited to announce the launch of its newest office in Concord, New Hampshire! After identifying the great need for more support for kinship families, the state of New Hampshire sought to expand kinship placements, specifically with minority families, youth with high emotional and mental health challenges, or those involved with juvenile justice, and enlisted the help of kinship experts. ASCI’s President, and CEO, Dr. Sharon McDaniel, Chief Financial Officer, Lindsey White, and other instrumental ASCI leadership, have since worked to partner with the state to bring our promising research evidence approach to family finding through our Kinship Navigator Program and are excited to help improve support for the kinship triad (the child, caregivers, and birthparents) in the state.

“While we use the term ‘Kinship Navigation’, ASCI’s Kinship Navigation is our Family Finding strategy for kinship children before or at the outset of placement. We fuse the core tenets of family finding and navigation support services, as children and families in the formal child welfare system need an array of services that may differ from those in informal kinship care,” states Toni Wagner, Sr. Managing Director of Child and Family Services in ASCI’s Pittsburgh corporate office. “Nonetheless, ASCI wants to ensure through our comprehensive Kinship Navigation services, that families are found, and needs are met, irrespective of where children and families are on the continuum of the kinship care matrix,” she continued.

Research shows that in 2022, there were 1,423 youth in care and 614 licensed foster homes in New Hampshire. Of that 614, only 232 are relative or kin-specific homes. However, families are offered more supportive services and financial assistance to care for the children placed in their care when licensed. Thus, ASCI’s expertise with working directly with kinship caregivers to help them understand the licensing process, and to help them navigate the child welfare system is our goal when working with this unique population in New Hampshire. We know that when children are placed with their families or kin, they prove to have better outcomes. As such, relative caregivers are heavily relied upon by the child welfare system to maintain balance in regard to child welfare placements, and they should be adequately supported as such. When a child requires out-of-home care, the most obvious and valuable advantage is found with family. It should be a first, second, and continuous consideration for placement that is not abandoned. ASCI is continuing to underscore this critical approach to our work in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division for Children, Youth and Families.

“All children and youth deserve to have adults in their lives who care for them and keep them safe. Kinship caregivers who step in to care for a family member help children maintain connections with their families and give them a sense of stability and belonging during a difficult time. Kinship care can help children maintain ties with their parents and siblings, preserve cultural identity, improve child well-being, and prevent unnecessary entries into foster care. The Department of Health and Human Services, Division for Children, Youth and Families is grateful to partners such as ASCI that support our commitment to kinship care for children across New Hampshire.”

Statement Provided by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division for Children, Youth and Families

Michelle Galligan, ASCI’s newest Director of Kinship Navigation in New Hampshire, is excited to lead ASCI’s Kinship Navigation Program on the ground, “I’m excited to learn from the best in the industry, mentor a rockstar team of professionals with a passion for overcoming barriers, and collaborate with a state leadership team committed to embracing the Kinship Navigation Model and opportunities!” she shares.

Theresa Prenzlin, Senior Director III of Kinship Navigation in New Hampshire shares her sentiments about ASCI’s transition into New Hampshire as she has played an instrumental role in helping to provide oversight for the new office. She shares, “The partnership between ASCI and New Hampshire provides the opportunity for ASCI to continue and grow their endless mission of improving lives and advocating for children and families. This opportunity will allow kin to be the focus and provide support for a successful placement for all children that come into care. As a member of this team, it is an honor to observe the enthusiasm and encouragement for the change.”

While ASCI works to build the kin-first culture that we’ve been dedicated to establishing in the state of Pennsylvania for over 30 years, we are hopeful this culture will be reflected in the state of New Hampshire through our work with families, and our dedication to our staff who share the same values.

“With lived experience as a transracial and international adult adoptee, I chose to work for ASCI because of how the organization’s mission aligns with my belief in keeping children within a familial structure and especially within their biological cultures. A child who has a strong knowledge of their biological culture and biological family history thrives better in their unique journey of identity, shares Bethany Kades, Administrative Assistant II in the New Hampshire office.

ASCI is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the state of New Hampshire to improve outcomes for the kinship triad, and will continue to advocate on their behalf on state and federal levels as we work to further expand our mission to strengthen and preserve kinship families for children across the nation.

ASCI is about to change the way we think about fostering kinship by finding and involving family members in New Hampshire.

Tim Frizzell, Kinship Permanency Resource and Support Navigator, NH

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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