Permanency Tip of the Week: Secondary Trauma/Burnout/Compassion Fatigue – #1 – What are These Concepts?
Understanding these three concepts is critically important to being able to effectively identify and address them in our work with at-risk youth and families. Secondary Traumatic Stress: A response to the cumulative experience of empathic engagement with people who are suffering and/or struggling with their own experience of trauma. It is the personal experience resulting from helping or wanting to help a person who has experienced trauma. Burnout: Relates to the negative feelings and experiences associated with job / system dissatisfaction (work hours, paperwork, caseload size, bosses, etc.). Burnout can lead to feelings of hopelessness, difficulties in coping with work experiences, and decreased work efficiency/productivity. Compassion Fatigue: A lessening over time of the ability to show and experience compassion through the combined exposure to and experience of Secondary Traumatic Stress and Burnout. Compassion Fatigue = Secondary Traumatic Stress + Burnout.
Excellent Resource: National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).
Next week: Secondary Trauma/Burnout/Compassion Fatigue – How and Why They are Experienced
Permanency Success Story of the Week: Four Brothers Get Adopted by Two Families Close to Each Other
The Epoch (GA) Times – A Georgia woman and her husband adopted three brothers, but they made a realization. Julia Washington and her husband then realized that the three brothers had another brother, who was 17 months old. However, with three adopted sons and two children of their own, they knew they couldn’t handle the responsibility. One of the boys had “major special needs,” she said. But if he wasn’t adopted, the three brothers would be more than 1,000 miles away from their other brother.
Washington’s neighbor, Jay Houston, then decided to step in. Houston had talked to the state’s Child Protective Services to adopt the youngest, named Elijah, which means the four brothers will essentially be able to grow up with one another, ABC News reported…Julia added: “We went from having two to five kids and one has special needs. We weren’t sure if we were able to take in another child. I knew how important it was to [Houston] to keep siblings together. They said they were open to have another child and we made a pact to keep them together so it kind of just fell into place.” Elijah now lives just minutes from his brothers.
“Kids in foster care come with such a negative stigma attached to them,” Houston said. “These kids are kids and they just need love and I can’t explain how much these kids have changed my life. My husband and I are the lucky ones.” Photos of Elijah reuniting with his brothers have received thousands of likes and shares on Facebook.
Permanency Related Articles:
Authors: Sharon Roszia and Allison Davis Maxon – Based on a hugely successful US model, the Seven Core Issues in Adoption is the first conceptual framework of its kind to offer a unifying lens that was inclusive of all individuals touched by the adoption experience.
The Seven Core Issues are Loss, Rejection, Shame/Guilt, Grief, Identity, Intimacy, and Mastery/Control. The book expands the model to be inclusive of adoption and all forms of permanency: adoption, foster care, kinship care, donor insemination and surrogacy. Attachment and trauma are integrated with the Seven Core Issues model to address and normalize the additional tasks individuals and families will encounter.
The book views the Seven Core Issues from a range of perspectives including: multi-racial, LGBTQ, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, African-American, International, openness, search and reunion, and others. This essential guide introduces each Core Issue, its impact on individuals, offering techniques for growth and healing.
KOMO News (WA) – For years, the nonprofit group Treehouse has assisted families and kids in the state’s foster care system. And yet, some older foster kids still can get overlooked. “I think we all carry a myth that we launched from 18 onward, but if we look carefully, we see attentive parents, other relatives, or maybe another caring adult in our community who really stood by our side,” says Treehouse CEO Janis Avery.
Of the 7,000 kids a year her organization helps, a small percentage graduate out of foster care into adulthood without a parental figure to help make the transition. Until now. The organization has just announced a new program called “Launch Success.” “It helps youth in foster care who’ve graduated from high school take the next steps into young adulthood with enough support so they can be successful,” Avery says. Through the program, the Treehouse team will be able to step in and train these young adults to be productive citizens, while addressing basic skills they’re going to need – like how to apply for financial aid, or what do to when your car breaks down.
The new program has initial funding, and Avery is confident there will be more support once people see the difference. “We’ll make sure youth are getting the services they need, have someone to call if there’s a problem (and someone) to celebrate their successes and to know and trust will be beside them for everything.”
DeGarmo – I have found that the more information I have about my foster
children, the better prepared I am to help them. Indeed, knowledge is power, as
we both know. Often times, the best place to find those answers and to
seek that knowledge is from the parents and family members of the foster child living
in your home. After all, it is likely that your foster child’s biological
parents and family members will know him better than anyone, even the case
worker. Last month, we looked at the realities of working with birth
You might just have a opportunity to find out some of the answers you are seeking about your foster child, as well as discover more about him than from his family. Face to face meetings and phone conversations with the birth parents and biological family members can help both you and the child. Your meetings with them will offer you the opportunity to learn a great deal about the child from foster care in your home. His likes and dislikes, his hobbies and interests, his fears and concerns, what foods he enjoys, and much more…By indicating, with your questions, that his parents are the experts, you will begin to form an important relationship, one that will benefit all involved. Again, make sure you ask these questions with respect, kindness, and understanding. In no way do you want the upset or offend the birth parents or show them any sign of disrespect towards them. This will only hurt the child in both the short term and long term…
If the birth parents of your foster child have not already asked questions about you and your family, take time to share with them some information about you and your family. Let them know that you are excited to have their child in your home for the time being. Show them that their child is healthy and happy, perhaps with some pictures of him. Indeed, give the parents pictures and school reports of the child for them to take home with them. Let there be no mistake; this will go a long way in helping to not only reassure them, but also to build a healthy working relationship between the two of you. Tell them about some of the traditions in your home. Reassure them that their child will not only be safe in your home, but cared for and given plenty of positive attention. Share with them some of the activities, successes, and positive moments that their child has had while in your home. The more assurance birth parents have that their child is in a good home, the better the relationship will be between the two of you.
Chronicle of Social Change – In my 15 years of advocacy experience, nothing has had such urgency as normalcy for children and youth in foster care. The term itself might not be used by participants for a foster youth survey, or in a focus group, but the feeling from youth and alumni is the same. Without a place of normalcy, youth struggle to thrive. Normalcy is an innate need, and our brains and bodies are constantly in a state of stabilization. Youth need opportunities to heal and grow from their past, so they can transition to adulthood. I’ve experienced personally how I was able to thrive because of the benefits of normalcy, even though I was in foster care…
The pinnacle of normalcy for me, as a teenager in foster care, was being able to participate in a study abroad experience as a freshman through Arcadia University. In 2005, fresh out of high school and still in the foster care system, I hopped on a plane for the first time and flew all the way to Scotland with a cohort of about 30 other students for our very first semester of college. There were no safety checks or home visits, even though I suspect none of my caseworkers at the time would have minded this…
I had several foster siblings who struggled in the system because of their difficulties with these abilities. I don’t think that normalcy should be contingent on a youth’s ability to be good or to people-please. I gained so much through my experiences playing sports, practicing for school plays, traveling to summer camp, part-time employment and whatever else my heart desired. It was my opportunity to make normal what was not normal. While I still grappled with serious identity and coping issues, I was able to simultaneously reap the benefits without coping being the main goal…Normalcy was the reason I was able to become so successful after foster care. Even though there are times when I still struggle with the effects of trauma, separation and loss, I have other skills, positive memories, natural connections and knowledge of myself that help carry me through.
The Center for Promise – Over the past several years the Center for Promise (CfP) has explored how society can better support young people in graduating from high school and transitioning to college and careers. This retrospective is a look-back at the Center’s work over the past five years, focusing on young people’s lived experiences and examining the salience of relationships with caring and encouraging adults and peers to every young person’s healthy development.
By combining systematic, social science methodologies and analysis with the authentic voices of young people, our hope is that this work provides a more accurate depiction of who young people who disconnect from school and work are and what they can achieve. The Center’s research studies are predicated on the understanding that all children and youth (and their families) have strengths that can propel them to educational, vocational, and overall life success…
Two theoretical frameworks undergird this research: 1) Supportive Youth Systems and Positive Youth Development and 2) Webs of Support. Equally important, young people thrive in all aspects of their lives and are buffered from the effects of adversity when they have access to a web of supportive relationships. Importantly, within this web, young people benefit from having someone they can turn to no matter what, which we refer to as an “anchoring relationship.”
Several key themes have emerged from the Center’s research: 1) Why Youth Leave School: Adversity, Responsibility, and Strength; 2) Relationships Are Critical to Encouraging Every Young Person’s Healthy Development; 3) Workforce Programs Can Facilitate and Optimize Re-engagement for NEET Youth…
Recommendations: 1) Before making decisions, understand who your community’s young people are, drawing on multiple sources of data that include hearing from youth directly. 2) Federal and foundation grant programs should require that grantees understand the lived experiences of the youth they serve. 3) Focus on external adversity to unleash young people’s innate potential. 4) By resolving adversities, youth are able to set and persevere along positive and productive educational and vocational pathways. 5) Double down on relationships.
Youth need a web of supportive relationships with adults across the different contexts of a young person’s life. These adults should provide young people with the emotional, instrumental, informational, and appraisal supports that we all need to thrive.
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