Greetings Permanency Champions,
Permanency Tip of the Week: Change in Child Welfare ~ Change in Our Youths’ Lives
In providing child welfare services, there is never a shortage of new and often competing initiatives, legislation and legal challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge is figuring out what steps need to be taken in which sequence and in which direction. One lens through which to observe this phenomenon is that the experience of child welfare professionals is a parallel process to that which our Youth in out of home care experience. Our youth often experience a myriad of constant changes, conflicting messages and competing demands related to where and with whom they live, whose caseload they are on, what school they go to, what providers they receive services from, etc. If these are parallel processes, then the way to manage both scenarios is for us to pause, take a few cleansing breaths, evaluate what is our end goal and start to work backward. Once we identify the key steps that need to be taken to go from where we are now to reach our end goal, we are prepared to begin moving forward to solve the challenges we face. Let’s be sure that all the steps we take and the decisions we make in child welfare are fundamentally centered on ensuring that our children’s experience of childhood is safe, supportive and permanency centered.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: Three Empty Rooms to fill—and a Lifetime of Love to Give
AdoptUSKids – “We have so many adventures together. Life would just be boring without them!” Jessica Busch says that she was born to take care of children. This belief first led her to become a kindergarten teacher. But soon she realized that spending eight hours a day with children was not nearly enough. Once she was settled in her career and had a home on a quiet cul-de-sac, Jessica set her sights on adopting from foster care. While she was going through the training and home study process, she prepared her home for three children.
As soon as she was licensed, Jessica registered on AdoptUSKids. In her profile, she wrote: I have three bedrooms set up for children already. I have a little girl’s room, a little boy’s room, and a baby/toddler room ready to be used—or changed depending on the child’s age or gender. I also have a playroom ready…When people ask Jessica about the progress the children have made, she is quick to point out that it is a journey and there will always be challenges. But she credits much of their success so far to the therapy the girls receive and to the family’s work with animals. Both girls participate in therapeutic horseback riding once a week, and together they care for dogs they are fostering or have adopted…“I feel like helping children is what I was put on earth to do. It’s such a joy to have them around. We have so many adventures together. Life would just be boring without them!”
Permanency Related Articles:
The Circle News – Victor Walter (Bois Forte Ojibwe) used to cut hair for a living. While giving a haircut six years ago, Walter had a client who expressed dismay over the lack of available foster homes for children in Minnesota. He asked if Walter would ever consider being a foster parent. Back at home, Walter and his husband, Jeff Sarro, let the idea sink in. They considered what it would mean to invite a foster child into their lives. Then they took the next steps. After becoming licensed with Hennepin County, the couple received a call asking them to foster two Native boys ages 8 and 12 years old…
For Walter, providing a Native home to Native youth in the foster care system is an imperative. “We are losing our culture at an alarming rate, with each elder that dies, with each child that falls by the wayside,” he said. “It is going to be just a matter of time”…“We are very active in [maintaining] kinship,” he said. “Connecting kids with their tribe as well as their families and scheduling visits on a regular visits, as appropriate, is very much part of our case plan.”
But Metcalf is emphatic about the need to address the shortage of Native foster homes. “We really struggle because we don’t have a lot of Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) homes,” he said. “We need more Native homes. Our community is struggling, and we need homes to help” …To increase foster homes where Native youth can find cultural belonging and community, both Metcalf and Grika believe all players interacting with those youth need to have a competent understanding of the historical trauma carried by Native communities, including the impacts of boarding schools, forced relocation, and assimilation. “Sometimes it can be hard given the trauma the kids have endured,” he said, “so it [requires] a lot of patience and guidance for kids to get back on track.” But, ultimately, the proud parent of two Native young men described the experience as “incredibly rewarding.”
Socialworker.com – Social work practitioners have historically recognized the social, political, and economic environment and its contribution to client well-being across the lifespan. In fact, it is this focus that is both a cherished attribute and foundational core value the profession is ethically bound to uphold…There is currently a robust amount of scientific evidence affirming our integrated approach to clients, as well as the pursuit of social justice and social policy advocacy. Results from the CDC-Kaiser study (ACE Study) revealed that stressful environments and trauma can harm the developing brain and increase one’s risk for developing negative coping behaviors and poor health throughout the lifespan.
The research on trauma, toxic stress, and ACEs should prompt a critical examination of social policies including those directed at poverty, environmental justice, affordable housing, immigration, public education, human rights, access to health and mental health services, and a living wage. We can actively move from thinking about decreasing trauma and increasing resiliency on only an individual practice level to thinking about building strong communities and supporting policies that increase resilience and prevent trauma collectively. What policies are contributing to ACEs in your community?
Administration of Children and Families (ACF) Children’s Bureau – Parents with a history of lived child welfare, adoption and foster care experience can be valuable resources for agencies and practitioners when developing or reviewing systems and programs. The parent experience also can help communicate the importance and impact of services when approaching legislators and policymakers.
There is a power to the parents’ stories: putting a relatable face on the impacts child welfare services can have on families. Understanding the impacts can support greater quality improvement, remove barriers, and help agencies shift to a family-centered approach. The FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention established a Parent Advisory Council to provide program direction and guidance. Council members share their experience through a variety of touchpoints to practitioners, legislators, and families. In “The Power of the Parents’ Voice” three members of the Parent Advisory Council provide guidance for agencies regarding 1) Ways to identify and engage parents to share their voice and experience; 2) How to involve parents across the entire system to improve outcomes; 3) The biggest ‘a-ha’ moments practitioners have when hearing parent’s stories for the first time.
FosterFight.com – Aryelle Mcbride (Facebook) (Instagram) – Imagine that all foster youth have a card. The foster kid card would work like a debit card, but probably not accepted everywhere. In foster care, it seems like we are told about all the resources our foster kid status qualifies us for. But, we never seem to see those resources in action or have the opportunity to put them into practice…After aging out, I threw my insurance card in my back pocket and didn’t check for it until a year later when I had a medical emergency. I received the bill in the mail. With a few cuss words in mind and some confusion, I called the hospital only to be told that my insurance wasn’t accepted. I assumed the state canceled my insurance and I was left to foot the bill. As the years passed, more and more health concerns popped up. It was a huge stressor to think these symptoms I’ve ignored could potentially lead to an even worse medical issue…
Outreach to youth is important. Youth need to be told about resources, supported, and taught how to access them. Now that I know about the provision granting health care to former foster youth until age 26, I take every opportunity to blast out the good news. I remember the stress I felt over medical expenses, and believe every eligible former-foster youth should be aware of the provision and how to access health care coverage.
New York Times – I first met my birth father in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn near Indianapolis. I was 18. We had been working toward this moment for three years. Letters. Phone calls. Even mix tapes. “Hey, kid,” my birth father, Jimmy Godwin, said in his bourbon-barrel baritone. He held out his hand. I was nervous, but knew this wasn’t a handshake meeting…
Adoption experts say first-time meetings between adult adoptees and their birth parents are becoming more common among the more than five million American adults who were adopted as children. The popularity of online genetic services like Ancestry.com and 23andMe is a significant factor, along with social media and the trend toward open adoptions.
The interpersonal dynamics of these reunions vary with the nature of the adoption. I grew up with my birth mother and adoptive stepfather. Adoptees like me have a very different perspective than someone who was adopted internationally, for example, or domestically through a closed adoption or foster care. Still, those who’ve studied and experienced adoptee-birth parent reunions say there are some guidelines they’d suggest for successfully managing what can be an extremely emotional and unpredictable process. 1) Take Your Time; 2) Look for Support; 3) Visual Aids Help; 4) Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
“Being able to look each other in the eyes, to have that closure,” she said, “that can be so healing for everyone.”
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