Many young adults transitioning from foster care feel something is missing. You may wonder if you will ever see your siblings again or hope to connect with biological parents, grandparents and other family members.
You deserve to know your history—a favorite childhood toy, where you grew up, or a relative’s cherished memory of you. Unfortunately, children and youth who experience foster care are often unaware of their history and identity because permanent, lifelong connections to family are missing. Finding family members can help provide life-long support that develops a sense of security and belonging.
Once you turn 18, request all your vital documents (court, identity, education, etc). If you are over 18 you can access your documents now! This will make your search faster and more accurate.
- If you are 18 or older you can obtain information about your DCS closed case file by completing a Records Request Form. Within the form note exactly the information you are seeking- past addresses, phone numbers, emails, schools in which you attended, etc. Some information is likely to be concealed as you are only allowed information as it relates to you.
- For more information on requesting your records contact: DCSRecordsRequest@azdes.gov
Quicken your search by asking known relatives and family friends for information on the person(s) you are searching for including;
- First and/or last name
- Past and/or present address, phone number, city and county where the person lived
- Date of birth and/or estimated age
- Social security number
- Tribal affiliation
- Place relative works or worked in the past, or the type of work they have done
- Whether they have served in the military or been employed by the local, state, or federal government
- Government services the individuals may have received (food stamps, Cash Assistance, disability benefits, state health insurance, and behavioral health care etc); and
- Whether or not the individual is or has been in jail or prison and if so, when and where.
You too can advocate and take action to find family through support from the state and public search sites. Check out the “Free Public Search” and “Fee-Based For Advanced Search” in the next sections.
Family Locate Referral –This referral is processed through the Department of Child Safety (DCS) Family Locate Unit, which utilizes several methods to locate bio parents and relatives of a youth in foster care. If you are currently in the custody of DCS and under age 18, or you are in extended foster care, request for your DCS Case Specialist to submit a Family Locate Referral. You can also ask your attorney and/or Guardian ad litem (GAL) to request for your DCS Case Specialist to submit a Family Locate Referral on your behalf. For more information or if you have questions, contact the DCS Family Locate Unit: firstname.lastname@example.org
Google– Best starting point for search.
Facebook – Common way to find individuals and connect immediately.
Linkedin – Network of professionals.
Roots web – Family Ancestor Finder (free trial).
Access Genealogy – Cemetery, military and Native American records, etc.
Myspace – Recommended for communicating with people serving in the military. Many people have not deactivated accounts.
Obituary Link Pages – State-by-state directories of newspaper obituaries and resources. Useful for finding a person’s closest living relative(s) and their places of past residences. Membership needed and free for first 14 days.
Below are links to advanced searches with detailed information on the person(s) you are looking for including phone numbers and addresses. Please note, these services cost money.
Confidential Intermediary Program (CIP) – If you were adopted and are at least 18 years of age or older you can utilize CIP and Confidential Intermediaries (CIs) to help facilitate contact between you and your biological parent(s). If you were adopted, but are under the age of 18 you can search for your siblings if you or your sibling(s) were in foster care and as long as your adoptive parent(s), foster parent(s) or guardian(s) agrees to the contact. Consent from ALL parities is required before sharing identifying and non-identifying information.
- CIP can also be used if you are looking for information on your family medical or genealogical history but do not desire personal contact.
- If interested in the CIP program contact one or more of the CI’s listed on the Directory of Certified Confidential Intermediaries and ask about their fee for service. Start with contacting a CI located in your county. If you have limited financial resources you may need to contact several CI’s to find pricing that fits within your budget.
- For more information and to speak with an individual regarding CIP call (602) 452-3378.
National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness – Utilizes Seneca Search Services, which is the most reputable and commonly used. An experienced search agent accesses multiple premium search databases to provide a customized search report with the most comprehensive information available.
Infobel – Utilized for international and U.S. searches.
US Search – Online provider of people search, background checks, phone number lookups and public records.
Global-Locate – Designed specifically for use by Government, law enforcement and child welfare agencies to help locate individuals world-wide.
Intelius – Delivers information about individuals data and their connection to others.
Zabasearch– Online provider of people search, reverse phone number lookup, address lookup, and more.
411– Online directory of contact information for people and businesses including phone numbers, addresses, yellow pages, and more.
Whitepages– Online directory of contact information for people and businesses
- You can use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to find addresses using the steps below:
Option 1: To verify a person’s last known address, send the USPS “Request for Change of Address Needed for Service of Legal Process” form or the “Address Information Request” form, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to the postmaster of the person’s last known address. Ask the local post office for these forms, as they are not available on the website.
Option 2: Contact the local post office of the person’s last known address and request forwarding address information. To find the delivery post office, go online to www.usps.com and select Locate a Post Office or call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777), say “post office information,” then “delivery office,” and then enter the 5-digit zip code.
- Check in your area for local shelters and speak with the coordinator in charge. They may not be able to tell you whether the particular individual is there, but you may be able to leave a message(s) for the person.