Permanency Tip of the Week: Secondary Trauma/Burnout/Compassion Fatigue – #2 – Why We may Experience these Reactions
A critical concept for us to understand is that if and when we experience Secondary Trauma, Burnout, and/or Compassion Fatigue, it is NOT a sign of personal / professional weakness. Rather, it is an indication that the same principles of trauma informed care that we use to care for our clients, are what we need to integrate into our own personal and professional lives. Some of the reasons why we are at higher risk of experiencing these include: 1) We serve an incredibly challenging and high-risk population; 2) Our work often involves us moving from one crisis to another, often without fully being able to resolve any of them; 3) Our own personal life experiences may intersect with those of the clients that we serve; 4) Our greatest professional gift of Empathy, can also serve as a gateway into experiencing the negative impact of our work; 5) Our caseloads are often very high and we often have little recovery time.
Next week – The impact of these experiences on our professional work.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: Baby Left at Hospital with No Visitors, Adopted by Nurse
WILX (Brighton, MA) – A pediatric nurse who cared for a premature baby that had no visitors in the hospital, is speaking out about how her dream of becoming a mother came true after she adopted the baby. Liz Smith and her now-two-year-old daughter, Gisele, first crossed paths in 2016. Gisele was born premature to a mother who had used drugs and the baby struggled with health issues. Gisele was soon transferred for treatment to the hospital in Massachusetts where Liz Smith worked.
The child had no visitors at the hospital for several months. But hospital staffers paid special attention to little Gisele, and one nurse asked Smith whether she had met her. “A few of the nurses at Franciscan Children’s approached me and said ‘Liz, have you met Gisele?’ I said ‘No, why?” said Liz Smith. “They said she needs a medical foster home, and you two are the perfect pair. I said ‘I don’t know, I have never considered fostering or adoption.’ A week later, literally, Gisele crossed my path in a stroller and we locked eyes. And that was it.”
Gisele went to live with Smith in 2017, and after Massachusetts terminated the parental rights of Gisele’s biological mom and dad, Smith formally adopted the girl last October. Before Gisele, Smith had suffered from infertility and went through treatments that were unsuccessful. Smith says Gisele’s health is stable and continues to improve.
Permanency Related Articles:
International Child and Youth Care Network (CYC-NET) – Dr. Lorraine Fox – This book is a collection of articles published over the years in which I have attempted to stimulate understanding of what has happened to our vulnerable children and teens and to help create respectful, individualized, plans of care that will lead to mental and emotional health and promise a better end of life than their beginnings. Child maltreatment injures every part of our young ones; their bodies, their heads, and their hearts.
I have learned that effective Child and Youth Care interventions require using every part of us. We use our bodies to hold them, play with them, teach them, and sooth them. We need our brains to understand the effects of abuse and trauma on their brains, the impact of pre-natal exposure of drugs and alcohol, and to help those struggling with learning problems. We need our hearts to love them, hang in with them, and to commit to them and show up for work. I’ve spent a lot of years going to school, but to tell the truth, everything I really know that matters, I learned from the kids. As I have moved into retirement it falls to you, dear readers, to continue the work – play with them, hold their hands, brush their hair, tuck them in, laugh with them, cry with them, listen to their stories, understand them, and yes, love them.
Chronicle of Social Change – Washington Monthly – A few times a month, in an unmarked white office building on Long Island, a group of Nassau County government employees discuss which children they should separate from their parents. The meeting involves a caseworker, supervisors and attorneys reviewing notes from the caseworker’s investigation into child maltreatment allegations against the parents. If the group makes the difficult decision that a child is not safe at home, the attorneys will drive to the county courthouse down the road to argue for a removal before a family court judge.
Most of the professionals involved in this decision will be white. If the judge approves the removal, the foster parents who take in the child will likely be white, too. But for years, even though only around 13 percent of the county’s overall population is black, black kids have made up half or more of the Nassau children deemed in need of foster care placement…But beginning in 2010, Nassau County took that part out. In its new “blind” removal meetings, information about race, as well as names and addresses, which could provide clues, is redacted by the caseworker. In other words, the people making these decisions are color-blind. The results of the experiment were dramatic. In 2011, black children made up 55 percent of removals. In 2016, the number was down to 27 percent — still disproportionately high, but an unprecedented drop in such a large county-run foster system…
Given the success, it might seem surprising that more institutions have not attempted to use “blinding” techniques to achieve more racial equality. Withholding information about race (or gender, age, and so on) from decision-makers is one of the oldest proven ways to circumvent discrimination. But the concept has largely fallen out of favor among racial justice advocates, in no small part because it has been co-opted by conservatives as a way of opposing any policy that takes race into account in an effort to combat racial inequality…
But there’s no reason to let the opponents of racial justice maintain their hegemony over color blindness. Yes, in the wrong hands, the concept can be used to justify results that set back the cause of racial equality, as when California banned state universities from considering race in college admissions. But blinding doesn’t have to be in conflict at all with proactive efforts to increase diversity. The key might be to take race out of the equation at the evaluation step. Everything we know about implicit bias suggests that even the most well-meaning evaluators are unconsciously docking minority applicants. An organization looking to increase diversity may find itself with more qualified minority applicants to choose from if it purposely ignores their race until the final stages.
But that requires accepting that there is information we can’t be trusted with. Maria Lauria, the director of children’s services for Nassau County, said that her organization’s color-blinding experiment faced internal resistance — perhaps, she explained, because it suggests that we’re lost causes, hopelessly prey to our most primitive prejudices against humans we don’t identify with. It’s uncomfortable for well-intentioned people to learn that they’ve been part of the problem, Lauria said. “People didn’t want to think something like this would work.”
April Dinwoodie – Through a rich and personal lens of adoption and foster care, nationally recognized thought leader and transracially-adopted person, April Dinwoodie, will candidly explore the beauty and complexity of our closest, most powerful relationships with our families and ourselves and how those relationships impact our identity and place in the world.
ACEs Connection – Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) – Collaborating for Successful Reentry: A Practical Guide to Support Justice-Involved Young People Returning to the Community” from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice is a resource to help practitioners reform how youth reenter society and connect with their community. Traditionally, the justice system has used remedies that require youth to go to several classes, complete community service and have frequent meetings with different case managers. This system of reentry can be overwhelming when added on top of readjusting to school, social, and family life. The report stresses that there should be a more streamlined reporting system for youth when reentering their community…
KALB – Alexandria, LA – Veronica Clark Photography – A local photographer wants to provide the best exposure for students who are in foster care. Veronica Clark entered the foster system at 6 years old. Now a juvenile officer, she says she understands how hard it can be as a young child to go from home to home and not being able to know where they may end up. There can also be very little documentation available for them outside of official records.
“I came into foster care with one photo of me as a child,” said Clark. “I was 3 in the picture. I don’t have any newborn or baby photos.”
As a way of giving back, Veronica is providing free pictures for high school seniors who are in or recently aged out of foster care. “Being a senior is hard and expensive, but imagine being a senior in foster care,” said Clark. “Imagine not knowing if you will finish high school in the same home or same school. Imagine all your friends talking about senior photos, cap, and gown, senior rings, senior jackets, graduation, all the family coming as you stand on the sidelines thinking about how much you are about to stand out because you won’t have family attending to cheer you on.”
If you know someone who could use some nice shots before graduation, call 318-613-7770 or send her a message on Facebook at Veronica Clark Photography.
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