Permanency Tip of the Week: Reframing Mental Illness Diagnosis through a Trauma and Permanency Informed Lens
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM 5 (2013), “The diagnostic criteria identify symptoms, behaviors, cognitive functions, personality traits, physical signs, syndrome combinations, and durations that require clinical expertise to differentiate from normal life variation and transient responses to stress” (Page 5).
When we view the symptoms, functioning, traits, etc. of our youth in foster care, in order us to live up to this standard of care, it must be done through a trauma and permanency informed lens. Given what we know about the life experiences of our youth, to say nothing about what we do not know, it is crucial that we view how what could be labeled as mental illness, may in fact be better explained as normal and adaptive responses to incredibly adverse life experiences
Permanency Success Story of the Week: “I HAVE A MOMMY AND DADDY FOREVER.” NEVER WERE THERE SWEETER WORDS
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids – Addy came to us having experienced so few things. The first time she had cotton candy, she was so excited to try something new. She smiled and said, “It’s so sweet!” Then, it started to dissolve. Her eyes got big, and she said, “Mommy, it ran away!” We never could have imagined the joy that Addy would bring to our family, but each day brings more memories and stories…
By the time we came into Addy’s life, she had already been in foster care for four years. Because of the neglect that Addy faced in her biological home, and the abuse she faced in some of her foster homes, Addy had many challenges. We are still working on some of those challenges, but we are also seeing great progress in her behavior. We worked hard to build her trust in us. We had to show her that we wanted to keep her, and she had to believe us, in her own time. It wasn’t until she truly understood our love for her that we could tackle the other behavioral issues…We are so thankful that Brianna helped us find our daughter and believed that we were the right match for her.
Permanency Related Articles:
Chronicle of Social Change – The Family First Prevention Services Act, which was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018, offers an historic opportunity for child welfare leaders to re-imagine a child welfare system for the 21st century. By placing an emphasis on prevention, early intervention and evidence-based practices for children and families, this groundbreaking legislation is requiring child welfare providers to rethink the policies, practices and systems of yesterday and reshape service provision to address child and family needs and do so using trauma-informed approaches.
One of the areas that will be most impacted by the bill is residential care. In today’s child welfare system, there are an estimated 57,000 children living in residential care. Residential services are provided by public, private nonprofit and for-profit child welfare agencies and may be campus-based, community-based, self-contained or secure facilities. In these settings, children youth, and their families are offered a variety of services, such as therapy, counseling, education, recreation, health, nutrition, daily living skills, pre-independent living skills, reunification services, aftercare and advocacy…
There will always be a need for out-of-home care because there will be times when children need to be removed temporarily from their homes. But the role of out-of-home care, particularly residential care, has clearly changed. When out-of-home care is needed, it will be accessed as a short-term emergency crisis stabilization service for families, rather than a long-term solution.
Ultimately, successful transformation efforts will require the support of a myriad of interconnected components that recognize the importance and impact of culture, financing, staff development, program and service adaptation and policy drivers.
Yahoo News – Although this is the first time she has ever been in this room, there are signs of her everywhere. It’s in the family crest on the wall — the one her ancestors brought from Mexico more than 100 years ago, the one she sent to the young man who is now showing her around, back when he started delving into his roots. It’s in the prescription bottles on the bedside table, medications to calm the racing thoughts they both experience. And it’s in the diploma from an elite private school, representing her dream for his education…
Adoptions like Michael’s are the subject of much more research now than 20 years ago. Harold Grotevant, the Rudd Family Foundation Chair of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who, with his collaborator Ruth McRoy, runs the 30-year-long longitudinal study on openness in adoption, summarizes his three decades of research like this: “When we started, people were afraid of open adoption, they thought it would be confusing to children, would harm the bond with adoptive parents and would be bad for birth parents because it would not allow closure. We can now say definitively that none of those fears hold up. But we can also say that it’s complicated. Open adoption requires that families be flexible and good at communicating…”
“The story of the transition in American adoption is also the story of the transition of the American family,” says Adam Pertman, founder of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency. “Broadly speaking, the generation growing up right now has a different definition of family than any generation ever has…”
Sitting on the other side, Judy’s eyes well, too. “It’s having an intimate relationship with someone you don’t have any history on,” she says. “We had to make it work. We did make it work. You do what you do for your kids. She did what she did for Michael. We’re doing what we’re doing for Michael.” Reaching for a tissue, Gina says, “If I did one thing right in my life, it’s choosing these people.”
Emerging Mama – There are so many things I wish my husband and I would have known before embarking on the journey of building a trauma family. For starters, it would have been awesome to know that trauma families were even a thing. It would have also been great to know that the very foundation of being a human being had been altered in my child, in ways that may never be able to be healed or made whole. For years and years, I have struggled to put my finger on the invisible beast that can often wreak havoc in our family.
However, through therapy, relentless researching, and the wisdom of God, I discovered something new recently about the nature of this beast. Namely, the very foundation of being human is that we are designed to connect with other human beings, especially our family and loved ones, through healthy, mutually beneficial, age and developmentally appropriate, reciprocal relationships. When we relate to other people in healthy ways, almost everything we do is done out of love, out of trust, and out of the belief that those we are in relationship with care about us too… But for children with attachment disorder, trust has been broken at the most basic and foundational level. Their basic needs for food, water, safety, shelter, and security were not met or were only met in haphazard and anxiety-producing ways. Whether this was intentional or unintentional does not really matter, because either way, brains, and bodies were altered. It’s that serious…
Removed Film – Nathanael Matanick – Little Kevi is torn from the only life he has ever known and struggles to make sense of how he fits between two worlds and two mothers. The 3rd in the ReMoved Series. We all fell in love with Zoe from ReMoved 1 & 2. Now it is time to tell a different story – to capture a broader range of the foster care experience. If you are a foster agency and you need a license to show this film in public, please go here. Thanks, community!
Baltimore Sun – Reporter Yvonne Wenger’s series, “The Wait,” began with 73 pages of journal entries that documented her days as a new foster mother – and her attempts to make sense of the moral dilemmas she navigated over two years of learning to love, and to let go. By digging into her own medical history and struggle to have a child, Wenger opens up the complicated world of foster care and takes listeners on the journey of how she became a mother.
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Dr. Greg Manning