Permanency Tip of the Week: Survival Skills – Thank Goodness our Youth have them!
One of the strongest attributes that our Youth in out of home care possess is a well-honed set of survival skills. These skills have served them well as many of them have had to ensure their survival on their own in-spite of and/or because of the actions by adults in their life. Because of these actions, many of our youth have been exposed to countless Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) inside and outside of foster care. We must openly acknowledge and honor the presence of these life events and the incredible impact that they have had and potentially will continue to have on our Youth. When we start with this place of honoring them, instead of trying to change them, the potential for collaboration with us on the Permanency journey is greatly enhanced. Let’s start with honoring the amazing survival skills of our Youth!
Permanency Success Story of the Week: The Program Connecting Foster Kids with Relatives – “James”
Sydney (AU) Morning Herald – Since he was a baby, James* has shuffled between foster families and group homes, unaware that his Aboriginal family were eager to know him and love him. Determined to change this, his case worker Megan O’Neill began knocking on doors in a remote community in northern NSW earlier this year, where she knew his extended family lived. “He was initially really reluctant to be in contact with them, because he felt they had never made an effort to find him. He thought they had never cared about him.” Ms O’Neill said. In fact, the family had tried to contact James, who is now 15 years old, but they did not know where he was or how to reach him. Ms O’Neill showed his family photos of him and returned with book filled with messages from them. “The messages were we love you and we want to see you,” she said.
Last week, James met one of his uncles for the first time. The meeting was the latest in a slew of meetings and reunions he has made with relatives in recent months. His caseworkers, from the Department of Family and Community Services, took the initiative to track down around 20 of his family members after attending a training program called “Family Finding“. The program was developed by Kevin Campbell, a US-based youth expert, who has run seven “boot camps” in NSW which teach caseworkers strategies for locating relatives of children in out-of-home care and fostering connections.
Mr Campbell said he had reviewed the experiences of 350 children in care in NSW. “We identified more that 8000 relatives and other adults connected to these children during the workshop sessions. Very few of these adults had ever been contacted or invited to the help these children,” Mr. Campbell said. “It is critical to note again the majority of these children were indigenous, therefore it was a new opportunity to restore children to family, culture and community a critical element of reconciliation…”
Permanency Related Articles:
Chronicle of Social Change – Susan Dreyfus – Alliance for Strong Families and Communities – Our nation’s future vitality depends upon all children having the opportunity to grow into healthy, successful, socially and civically engaged adults. Essential to that process is ensuring that children have access to stable, nurturing relationships and the resources needed to support their development.
The Family First Prevention Services Act, which was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018, is an important step toward realizing this goal. For child welfare leaders, it represents both opportunity and challenge as we look to radically re-imagine the current child welfare system into one that emphasizes prevention, early intervention and evidence-based practices for children and families. The challenge ahead will require that everyone – from the public to the private sector – come together to create and implement a thoughtful and carefully planned blueprint for change. It will truly take all of us…
We should fully embrace this 21st-century vision for a preventative child welfare system that serves the unique needs of children and families and provides the right amount of services and supports to achieve the best results possible. To achieve these goals, we must also ensure that community-based child welfare organizations have a seat at the table and a voice in navigating these policy changes and how they are implemented to fully support children and families.
Medium.com – Dr. John DeGarmo – Taking in children from foster care into your house can certainly be a challenge. It isn’t always easy. Taking care of kids, that is. As a father of three biological children, and three children from adoption, there are those days when I am a little worn out. Know what’s even harder? Taking care of children in foster care. As a foster parent of over 55 children from foster care, there are those days when I am a whole lot worn out! Now, don’t get me wrong, it is the most important “job” I have ever done, and it has made me a better person…
1) Handling Burnout – One of the keys to preventing burnout is awareness. Once you are aware that you are truly exhausted and facing burnout, you can then take steps to better care for yourself. If burnout is left untreated or ignored, there can be serious complications for not only the foster parent but for the foster child, as well.2) Time for Yourself – As a foster parent, this will be difficult, as you will be required to take care of a child full time. Make time to do something you enjoy, and that you find relaxing.3) Your Marriage – Sadly, many marriages suffer during the foster process… Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page with your parenting, and ensure that the two of you are consistent when it comes to all decision making with your foster child. Finally, do not neglect the needs and concerns of your spouse. 4) Your Children – If you have children of your own, you may find that you are not giving them the attention and love they need. Make sure you spend one on one time with each of your own children. 5) Foster Parent Support Groups – There are a number of foster parent support groups and associations across the nation. They will provide you with not only support, but information, fellowship, and important insight that will help you be a better foster parent.
My friend, I am thankful for what you do each day. I am thankful that you are making sacrifices in your life in order to care for children in need, children in foster care. I am thankful that you have opened up your home and your family to children who need help, who need stability, and who need love. You are making a difference. Now, take care of yourself, as well!
Child Welfare Information Gateway – Foster parents are the most important source of adoptive families for children in the child welfare system. In order to facilitate these types of adoption, professionals should be knowledgeable about the benefits, costs, and practice implications. This bulletin for professionals discusses the ways that professionals can help foster parents before, during, and after they adopt in order to ensure that the child and family experience a successful adoption outcome.
Topics include 1) Trends in Foster Parent Adoption; 2) Benefits of Foster Parent Adoption; 3) Costs of Foster Parent Adoption; 4) Practice Implications With Children and Parents; 5) Pre- and Postadoption Services; 6) Questions for Further Research
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) – Over the past several decades, the increasing use of zero-tolerance policies in schools, coupled with a trend toward the use of law enforcement to respond to a wide array of misbehavior inside schools, led to a dramatic increase in exclusionary discipline (suspension and expulsion) and school-based arrests… As the research discussed below indicates, youth with behavioral health needs (which include mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and experience of traumatic stress) are at increased risk of both exclusionary school discipline and school-based arrest.
The work of the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice has focused on supporting states and localities in efforts to reduce that risk since coordinating the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network from 2007 – 2011. During that time, the eight participating states identified school-based diversion from justice system involvement as a top priority to keep children and youth with behavioral health needs away from unnecessary juvenile justice system involvement. The information in this technical assistance bulletin highlights the prevalence of the use of exclusionary school discipline and arrest with youth who face behavioral health challenges and provides a roadmap for creating a system that instead offers youth connection to community-based services to address their behavioral health needs…
ACES Connection – Vivian Brown – Trauma-Informed care represents a major shift in paradigm and practice. It has been defined as a system that realizes the widespread impact of trauma and adverse events and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization of our clients by changing procedures and practices. Despite the recent calls for trauma-informed care across service sectors, providers continue to ask, “What does it look like?”…Core components of a trauma-informed organization include: 1. A safe and welcoming environment; 2. Cultural Safety; 3. Voice & Choice for Clients; 4. Screening; 5. Trauma-Specific Interventions; 6. Peer Supports; 7. Training of Staff; 8. Self-Care for Staff
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