Recruitment Programs

Family Finding

We find forever families for children who are in foster care.

In the St. Louis area, there are more than 4,500 children in foster care. When a child enters State custody, their cases are referred to a number of child welfare agencies. They turn to the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition for their most difficult cases.

It’s simple: our innovative approach works. Our programs are research-backed and are currently being replicated at more than 20 other agencies around the country.

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Change Child Welfare

Founded in 1989, the Coalition has emerged as an innovative national leader in foster care reform.

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Extreme Recruitment®

Extreme Recruitment® History

Silly as it may sound, Extreme Recruitment® was inspired by the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This program was an exciting race against time to build a house in just a week by coordinating hundreds of professionals and volunteers. Likewise, Extreme Recruitment® is a race to find a permanent home for a child in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

The program was founded in 2008 by Melanie Scheetz, the Executive Director of the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. The program started small, only serving a handful of children initially.  With experience and success, the program grew.

Extreme Recruitment® Overview

So what is Extreme Recruitment®? Extreme Recruitment® is a race to find permanency for youth using 12-20 weeks of intensive recruitment efforts and permanency preparation.

Extreme Recruitment® works exclusively with the hardest-to-place children: ages 10-18, sibling groups, children of minority status, and youth with emotional, developmental, or behavioral concerns. Extreme Recruitment® can be successful for any child in foster care because it:

  • Requires weekly, intensive meetings of the child’s professional team members for 12-20 weeks
  • Focuses on preparing the youth for adoption, including their mental health and educational needs
  • Exhausts all forms of adoption recruitment
  • Continued follow-up until permanency is achieved

The added ingredient that makes Extreme Recruitment® so effective is our private investigators. Originally, we tried to do the investigation work ourselves, but our contact rate with relatives was a dismal 23%. Within two weeks of hiring an investigator, the contact rate skyrocketed to 80%! Our investigators find relatives through internet tools, court databases, social media searches, and old-fashioned detective work.

Program Goals

  • Reconnect 85% of youth with a network of safe, appropriate adults
  • Match 70% of youth with an adoptive family


Extreme Recruitment® has received attention from both local and national media. In 2011, it was even featured in TIME Magazine. For media inquiries, please contact Melanie Scheetz, Executive Director, at 314.367.8373.


Extreme Recruitment Referral

Please contact Amanda Denning, Director of Extreme Recruitment®, at for questions or to make a referral.

30 Days to Family®


Building on the success of Extreme Recruitment® and family engagement, Executive Director, Melanie Scheetz, believed the same premise could effectively be applied to children when they ENTER the foster care system. As a result, the 30 Days to Family® program was launched in March 2011. The principle of 30 Days to Family is to assist in the search and engagement of a child’s relatives and kin within 30 days of the child entering the foster care system. The first year of the program demonstrated great promise: 71.4% of the children were placed with relatives/kin at the conclusion of services. Program outcomes have continued to improve as the program evolves. Click here to see results from a landmark study on the program.

Program Overview

30 Days to Family® is a short-term intervention to diligently search for a child’s relatives and kin to identify potential placement options and supports. The initial search is for parents, grandparents, and siblings, but the goal is to identify 80 additional relatives. Because placements can be fragile, the goal is to identify one primary placement provider and one to two other relatives or kin as potential back-up placement providers. All branches of the family are explored with equal interest. In all cases, every effort is made to search for relatives and kin who will keep siblings together, maintain children in their school of origin, and preserve the child’s important relationships with friends and supportive adults.

Armed with the philosophy that all families include members who are willing and able to care for children, as well as the knowledge that research has shown youth living with relatives while in foster care can lead to improved outcomes, 30 Days to Family® Specialists are relentless in their search for relatives of children in care. This program is being replicated by agencies across the country.

Achieving Results For Children, Families, and Child Welfare

A rigorous, independent study was commissioned to test the 30 Days to Family® theory of change. Click here to see an overview of the results.

Program Goals

  • Identify at least 80 relatives or kin in each case
  • Place 70% of children with relatives or kin within 30 days
  • Identify at least 1 relative/kin placement option and 1-2 backup relative/kin placement options in each case


30 Days to Family Intake, Referral Form 

Please contact Shonetta Reed, Director of 30 Days to Family®, at for questions or to make a referral.


For media inquiries, please contact Melanie Scheetz, Executive Director, at 314.367.8373 x2221 (800.FOSTER.3).

Training and Replication

For information on 30 Days to Family® training or 30 Days to Family® Program Replication, please head on over to The Institute for Child Welfare Innovation.

What is the Institute? Due to the growing number of agencies across the country interested in replicating the 30 Days to Family® program, the opportunity for scaling has far surpassed the Coalition’s mission to serve children and families in the Saint Louis area. Therefore, as of its inception in December 2019, the Institute for Child Welfare Innovation has taken on the efforts of all training, scaling, and program replication of the Coalition’s 30 Days to Family® Program. For more information please contact Melanie Moredock.

A Place to Call Home

5 On Your Side’s “A Place to Call Home” is a wonderful gift to our children and community! This award-winning, weekly program features children who are legally free for adoption.

What makes it so great?  It works!

  • This program has been enormously successful; out of the hundreds of children who have been featured, more than 56% of them have, or are in the process of being placed in an adoptive home!
  • “A Place to Call Home” even found an adoptive home for a sibling group of nine children!
  • Because of the program’s innovative approach to adoption, “A Place to Call Home” was awarded the National Association of Broadcaster’s Service to America Award and was nominated for a National Emmy.
  • “A Place to Call Home” won a Regional Emmy in the Community Outreach area, and locally, was awarded the “What’s Right in the Region” award from FOCUS St. Louis.

Click here to visit and meet some of the featured children!


For more information and to make a referral, please contact Summer Renne, Director of Training & Community Engagement at 314.367.8373. Click here to download a referral form. Return it, along with the adoption profile, to

The Dennis and Judy Jones Family Foundation Foster Care & Adoption Program

This program trains, supports, and prepares families for foster care licensure and adoption readiness. The Dennis and Judy Jones Family Foundation Foster Care & Adoption Program is the most robust in the region. In addition to requiring the minimum 27-hour training requirements, our participants receive an additional 14 hours of nationally-recognized trauma training, plus two-years of ongoing support services from our highly-trained staff, many of whom are foster/adoptive parents themselves.


The Dennis and Judy Jones Family Foundation made a $300,000 investment in the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition to increase the number of foster and adoptive homes in Greater St. Louis. This 2017 grant addressed this crucial need, as the number of children entering foster care has increased over the past three years, here and throughout the country, largely because of the opioid epidemic.


Since 2017, the Dennis and Judy Jones Family Foundation Foster Care & Adoption Program has prepared over 125 families for licensure. Our families have a 95% retention rate, compared to 40% nationally.