Permanency Tip of the Week: Reframing Mental Illness Diagnosis through a Trauma and Permanency Informed Lens – ADD/ADHD
At times, our Youth are described, especially in classroom and work settings, as being unfocused, unable to pay attention to the task at hand, and not acting like they care. To truly be trauma and permanency informed, we need to step back and consider what internal and external variables might be impacting our Youth’s actions. What if our Youth has a visit this afternoon with his parent from whom he was removed due to abuse/neglect and he is perseverating on whether or not his parent will show up, if his sister who still lives with the parent is ok, or if his parent still loves him even though he told his teacher about the abuse/neglect? Instead of viewing them as being unfocused, inattentive, and not caring, let us view our Youth holistically and truly use a trauma and permanency informed lens before assigning a DSM 5 diagnosis like ADD/ADHD.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: Isaiah’s Homecoming: Adoption at Age 17 Highlights the Need in Minnesota, Especially for Teens
Grand Forks Herald – At age 16, everything Isaiah knew was in Detroit Lakes — especially his friends and his track and field coaches, whom he looked to as mentors. But he agreed to leave all of that and move to an unfamiliar place for what he didn’t have: a mom and a dad. “If they were willing to let me into their home, if they were willing to take a little risk, then I guess I was going to do the same thing, too,” said Isaiah, now 18 and a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
In foster care since 13, Isaiah was living with boys around his age at a foster ranch, and he had seen some of them age out of the system. “It’s a scary thing because they leave and they’re on their own and they do what they need to do to survive,” Isaiah said. “That’s the path I was heading down, too. You age out, and you’re completely on your own.” It is scary, agreed Wendylee Raun, education program coordinator for MN ADOPT, a nonprofit that contracts with the state. “The success rate for kids who age out of foster care is pretty grim,” Raun said. “There’s a lot of homelessness, and early pregnancy for the girls and drug abuse and sex trafficking. It’s an ugly thing.”
In 2016, the Arntsons were seeing an empty nest in their future as daughter Ashleigh and son Devan neared graduation from Esko High School, where Scott is a teacher and coach…When it comes to teenagers, an adoption only happens when both parties are on board. “Our philosophy is we’re finding families for children, not children for families,” Raun said…
Scott doesn’t see Isaiah as any different than his other children, he said, and the rewards of parenting are the same either way. He doesn’t see what his family has done as anything special. “We get the, ‘Oh, what a great thing you did,’” Scott related. “I don’t know. It seemed like our family was missing a piece, and he was the piece we were missing.”
Permanency Related Articles:
Oregon Live – As a pediatric nurse, Lyndsee Wunn has learned to compartmentalize. If not, it would be hard to get through her 12-hour shifts on the fourth floor of Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel. There she administers care to children battling cancer and struggling with heart defects. Often, parents keep bedside vigil to offer love, encouragement and simple moments of tenderness — in many ways as important to the child as what the doctors with all their science and medicine provide.
And then there are the foster children. “It’s more horrific than anyone can imagine,” said Wunn, a nurse for 15 years. “Kids are going to foster care every day all over the city. But the ones who come to a hospital for medical treatment have been abused and neglected.” These children, alone in a hospital room with nothing and no one, unsettled the unflappable nurse who long ago had learned guard her heart during long shifts on the floor.
“The fear and sadness and desperation in those eyes is something you can never forget,” she said. “I wondered who would step up to let them know they matter and that they are loved.” That’s how this project of hers began. Not from the head. But from the heart…
Although they had a son, Landon, now 8, the couple got state certification to become foster parents. The need for foster families is so great that four days after being approved, they were asked by an Oregon Department of Human Services caseworker if they’d take Cooper, a drug-addicted infant born in a Portland-area hospital. The couple fostered Cooper, now 6, for more than 18 months and then adopted him when the boy’s parents relinquished their rights.
With their careers and full family, the couple decided they could no longer commit to being foster parents. But it wasn’t easy for Wunn to let go…It wouldn’t be much, but Wunn decided to collect new clothing and supplies that could be sent home with a child taken in by a foster family…Boxes of Love Project.
Denver Post – For the fun of it, I often launch into that “tell me a little about yourself” part of a business lunch, networking event or high-dollar client pitch with “Well, I’m a foster dad!” I receive surprised, confused faces because people just assume I’d talk about my probably-boring career choice, millennial side hustle or how, because I live in Colorado, I’m inherently in love with skiing (I absolutely am, by the way).
Embracing the identity of “foster dad” can seem like completely uncharted territory sometimes. I feel it. As a 27-year-old business owner, entrepreneur and community lover, I know approximately zero guys “like me” doing foster care — let alone embracing it as an inherent part of who they are and why they do what they do…Forget being Super Dad or having to trade in your entire existence for some ultra-altruistic lifestyle. You can be a “normal dude” and commit to embracing fatherhood through foster care…
This Father’s Day, let’s all help progress fatherhood past only meaning another new tie and our prized “#1 Dad” mug. Perception is reality: embrace fatherhood through foster care and it’ll go a long way to normalizing “foster dad” among family and friends, at our workplaces and in our communities as a whole. Perhaps even better yet, go love a kid in need and change their perception of “foster dad” too. Normalize love, safety and stability for them through fatherhood.
Youth Today – Toni should be celebrating. She’s part of a rarified group — the 10 percent of students at four-year public colleges who graduate with their bachelor’s degree on time. Even more significantly, she has already cemented herself as one of only 3 percent of foster youth to achieve a four-year degree by age 26, compared to nearly 50 percent of her non-foster peers.
But she is not celebrating or preparing for her graduation day or attending on-campus recruitment fairs. Toni is spending every minute of every day looking for a place to live because she has turned 21 and her time in foster care, the system she grew up in, is over. She is completely on her own with no family supports and has only a few days to move out of her dorm. Right now, it’s a move to homelessness.
Toni’s situation is the norm for young adults who have been in foster care. Securing safe, affordable housing is a common problem for many vulnerable populations, but housing instability and the risk of homelessness is greatest for young adults aging out of the foster care system. Successful young adults like Toni can plummet off the emancipation cliff, and the likelihood they will ever recover, no matter how talented and driven they are, is slim…Bottom line, we can do better – the solutions are out there. They need to be adopted and replicated so every one of our youth has the opportunity to fly.
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – Over the past three years, Louisiana has been transforming our approach to foster care and adoption. In 2016, our Department of Children and Family Services launched statewide implementation of the Quality Parenting Initiative, a team approach to foster care that encourages birth parents, foster parents and agency staff to work together for the best interest of the children. We know that one of the most meaningful ways we can take care of our children in foster care is by supporting the caregivers who provide for their needs and give them safe and nurturing environments in which to grow…
This past year, the state took another step in ensuring our children have the foundations they need to gain the best possible start in life by extending foster care for youth, ages 18 to 21, who are working toward a high school diploma or equivalency. A task force is now studying the best ways to allow all foster youth who would otherwise age out of the system to remain in care until age 21.
At the same time, we have set a record for the number of adoptions from foster care for three years in a row. Some of our greatest successes have been with teens and sibling groups. Over the past year alone, we saw a 30.8 percent increase in the number of youth, ages 13-17, adopted from foster care – the highest increase of any age group. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, through which eight adoption recruiters have been working across the state, has been an important part of that success…
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) – Recently, Rebecca Burney and Larson Binzer called for the voices of girls in the justice system to be heard. We extend their plea, adding the vitality of the voices of girls caught up not only in the justice system, but in the foster system as well. Academics and practitioners alike call these young people crossover youth. Through 33 interviews with incarcerated girls at a California detention center, we find these voices and experiences to be particularly salient to any efforts for justice or other system reforms. These girls withstand similar injustices to those involved in one system, yet their challenges are compounded by the involvement of multiple systems tasked with their care.
Crossover youth face a series of added challenges compared to young people only involved in the foster care or juvenile justice system. For example, justice-involved girls in foster homes suffer from an identity defined by their justice involvement and are mistreated in the foster homes more than their foster-only counterparts. The girls spoke of being adversely treated at their foster homes, mistreatment connected directly to their time spent behind bars and on probation. The girls believe that “probation kids,” who were previously arrested and were now on probation, were treated worse than other youth, or “social work kids.” They spoke of social work kids receiving more privileges, like having a cellphone and freedom to go out regularly, as well as rule violations being handled differently. ‘They think we’re criminals…’
These voices should not be only heard, they should receive action as well. From these girls, we should hear and call on foster care staff and criminal justice agents alike to exercise caution and change their responses to minor offenses so as to not overly punish these girls. Policymakers, foster care professionals and law enforcement officers should hear these girls’ voices and make a collaborative effort to minimize the harm caused to girls while in the child welfare system.
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Dr. Greg Manning