Permanency Tip of the Week: Reframing Mental Illness Diagnosis through a Trauma and Permanency Informed Lens – Reactive Attachment Disorder
When we are serving Youth and preparing them for Permanency, one of the challenges we frequently face is in dealing with their Attachment style – the way in which they relate to and bond with others – particularly caregivers. In the DSM-5, Reactive Attachment Disorder, identifies problems with inhibited/emotionally withdrawn behavior, persistent social and emotional disturbance, and a history in which the child has experienced a pattern of extremes of insufficient care. In viewing the attachment challenges that we often observe in our Youth, it is critically important that we first view them through the lens of the Permanency, loss, abuse, trauma, and neglect challenges that many of them have faced. It is only through this lens that we can see that these patterns of “disordered” attachment, may in fact be a survival strategy that has been employed by our Youth to protect them from further pain, suffering, and loss. Let us first help our Youth to feel safe in relationship with others before expecting them to attach.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: From Foster Care to Miss DC: Pageant Winner Inspires Others
NBC – Washington, D.C. – Before Cordelia Cranshaw became Miss District of Columbia USA, she flashed her winning smile to the judges. But smiling didn’t always come easy — she grew up in foster care and was once homeless. The D.C. pageant winner is a social worker who helps children facing some of the same challenges she did. “Just looking back at all the things that I was able to overcome, I’m just thrilled that I am where I am today,” she said.
Years ahead of the big contest, Cranshaw worked on developing the confidence to compete. “Growing up, I really felt like I didn’t have much confidence. My mother — after her being incarcerated, in and out of my life, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. My dad being an alcoholic,” she said. Cranshaw and her sister were in and out of foster care as children. At 14, she tried to take her life. Frightened, she called 911…
She graduated from high school, got scholarships to go to college and graduated from George Mason University. Then, she moved to D.C. and earned a master’s degree in social work. Friends encouraged her to run for Miss D.C. She lost. But she kept trying and won…In addition to fulfilling her duties as Miss D.C., Cranshaw works as an education specialist for the D.C. Child & Family Services Agency. She helps children in foster care work hard in school and use education to advance themselves like she did.
Permanency Related Articles:
Toronto Sun (Canada) – Adrian was terrified of turning 18. It’s a welcome milestone for most teens, but Adrian was in foster care so at 18 he would no longer be a ward of province and would be left to fend for himself as an adult. Instead of a birthday cake he could have been handed a suitcase and a pauper’s allowance. Turns out he’s one of the lucky ones who at a late stage is being adopted and not left to fend for himself alone as a young adult — before his teen brain is even fully developed.
“He just couldn’t be left to his own devices,” said Colin, who is in the process of adopting Adrian and his younger brother Anthony. As a teacher in Port Sydney, Ont. with grown children, he wanted to help a kid in his class transition into adulthood. The boys were put into foster care because of abusive parents with addiction issues.
Colin’s adoption of the boys was facilitated with help from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Canada (DTFAC), which helps to get foster kids — especially older ones — adopted before they age out of the system. “(Adrian) was terrified of going into the world with no help. How was he supposed to succeed without a backup,” Colin said, adding such kids “come with some baggage.” It’s a fact that most children over nine years old don’t get adopted and it’s very rare for a teen to find a forever home, DTFAC President Rita Soronen said. Since 2016, the DTFAC has served 735 kids, helping 194 get an adoptive home — with 75% of those over the age of nine. “Our work is far from done,” Soronen said, adding she is pleased the province is continuing to partner with the agency to fund adoption recruiters…
Bruce Rivers is executive director of Covenant House — the largest agency of its type in Canada and works with up to 300 homeless youth fresh out of foster care. “There is a systematic problem of youth aging from foster care and being left on their own volition,” Rivers said. “When a child is in care it’s because they need protection, and every year anywhere from 800 to 1,000 age out of the system. They are the type of children at the greatest risk of being victimized if they don’t have a family. They are at the greatest risk of predators. More needs to be done so less slip through the cracks.”
Augusta, ME (WGME) – A government watchdog agency finds most of Maine’s child welfare workers are overworked and overwhelmed. The lengthy report released Friday is based on surveys and interviews with those on the front lines, who are directly involved with making decisions about a child’s safety. Among their concerns: Caseloads so large, they can’t devote proper attention to each family.
The report by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, or OPEGA, says workers are struggling to keep up, and are so stressed, they feel they can’t take time off. The work is difficult and unpredictable, sometimes requiring overnight stays with children in hotels or hospitals. About one-third of those surveyed said they’re actively looking for another job…
Dear Adoption – My (adoptive) mom writes about adoption. She’s one of the well-known adoptive moms who writes and advocates for adoption reform, in fact. She is un-fogged and understands the trauma I experience as an adoptee. I really appreciate her. I am really thankful that she speaks truth even when it’s unpopular. I am glad she seized the opportunity to take a public stand and vocalize everything wrong with adoption.
I wish she would stop though. I wish she would step aside.
She spends a lot of time talking about how people need to listen to adopted people but she is still taking up too much space. There isn’t room for many of us to speak for ourselves. I don’t want her to stop completely but I do wish she would reexamine what she is doing. A lot of people look to her when wondering about adoption and what an adoptee might think and then she tells them. This is a tricky (perhaps sometimes unintended) way to speak over and for adopted people. The only ones not tricked by this are adoptees.
We see it everyday. We are silenced regularly.
We can’t compete sometimes even with our own parents. I am grateful that my parents get it but I still wish they would step back some of the time. As they share for me they are moving higher up the white savior scale and I am getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
Nobody can hear me when when they speak. Nobody can see me.
I don’t want to be spoken for. I want to be listened to.
THIS PIECE WAS SUBMITTED ANONYMOUSLY BY A TRANSRACIAL ADOPTEE.
LAIST – Our brains grow so much in the first few years of life that any trauma we experience during that time can affect our health forever. California’s new, first-ever surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, has made the link between childhood adversity and long-term health the focus of her work. She was sworn in by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week and calls her new role a “dream job.” Harris has built her career as a Bay Area-based pediatrician and the founder of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. She’s also the author of The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, and is known for giving this popular TED Talk…
This is one of the things that I’m most excited about because when we think about responding to Adverse Childhood Experiences and toxic stress as as a public health issue, this is not something that’s done by one individual or one organization, or frankly, even one state.
When we look at other public health crises like HIV/AIDS, like lead poisoning — what we see is that it’s really the advancement of a field. It’s people coming together folks choosing to decide, you know what, I’m going to do my PhD thesis on this topic instead of whatever else I could do it about. I’m going to be part of the solution and helping to understand how the stress response works and what happens when it when it becomes over-activated. I think the role of inspiring folks to be part of the solution is, I think, one of the most exciting parts of my job…
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) – Like most, when I became a juvenile probation officer I entered the field envisioning myself as a counselor or a mentor. But my day-to-day duties were centered around surveillance, compliance monitoring and paperwork, and the composition of my caseload further complicated matters. I had many kids who really didn’t need my time and attention, let alone probation. These were kids with first-time and/or low-level offenses. I tried to stay out of their way as best I could and hoped they would not violate probation rules, which would force me to take punitive action…
Unfortunately, the utilization of diversion and probation has not changed since I entered the field 20 years ago. Diversion is used in just over 40 percent of cases, despite 94 percent of cases being for nonviolent offenses. White youth are diverted at higher rates than similarly situated youth of color. More youth who were either non-adjudicated or adjudicated for status offenses were placed on probation caseloads (rather than diverted) than youth adjudicated for delinquency offenses in 2016 (157,500 compared to 155,500), the most recent year for which data is available…
The (Annie E Casey) Foundation’s “Transforming Juvenile Probation: A Vision for Getting It Right” proposes an approach that leaves no probation officer maneuvering independently, while still providing them with the time, space and resources to help every young person on their caseload achieve long-term success…Juvenile probation cannot do it alone, nor should it want to. We must shift from positioning probation officers as fixers of delinquent youth to, instead, using probation as a lever to connect our young people to the resources that will help those youth with the longest odds of success be on the path to a bright future. Given the advances in the field and our knowledge of youth development, the prospects for taking these next steps to truly modernize our system of youth justice have never been brighter. Probation, as the largest part of the system, should be leading these efforts.
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- Take care and keep up the Permanency work – Our children, youth, young adults, families, and communities are depending on it!
Dr. Greg Manning