Permanency Tip of the Week: Connections, Relationships, Permanency, and THEN Permanent Placement (hopefully) – Part 1 – Proper Sequence
When serving our Youth in out of home foster care, it is crucial that we have both the proper priorities and that these priorities are pursued in the proper sequence. Historically, the focus of child welfare has been to find and secure permanent placement for our Youth as soon as possible. It is critical to note that this is unlikely to both happen and be sustained if the proper sequence of steps prior to Permanent Placement is not followed. In order to maximize the chance of success, the Youth first must: 1st – Create and sustain healthy connections; 2nd – Develop and sustain relationships from some/all of these connections; 3rd – Experience and sustain Permanency from some/all of these relationships; 4th (hopefully) – Secure Permanent Placement with those with whom the Youth has Permanency.
The amount of time, tips, and challenges/successes experienced in each of these stages will be explored over the next 4 blog posts.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: A Place to Call Home
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – After aging out of foster care, Joe Toles has committed his life to ensuring other at-risk youth always have a place to call home. Four of his seven sons were adopted through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in New York City. This is his story.
I grew up in an environment of instability. My brothers and I were placed in foster care in New York City at a young age. While we didn’t move from house to house like many other kids do, my foster family did not provide a safe or loving home. We experienced abuse and neglect, and I was often left to care for my younger siblings. At 21, I aged out of the foster care system. Statistically, I should be in jail, or I could be dead. But that’s not my destiny…
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids has been instrumental in growing my family, providing critical support and guidance in the adoption of four of my boys. Foster care shaped my experiences and who I am, but it has never been what defines me. I tell my sons that the world belongs to them. They have beaten the odds. Every year, thousands of teenagers, like them, age out of foster care without a permanent family. Through adoption, they now have an opportunity to write a happy ending to their story. I want my boys to know that no matter what, they have a place to belong. They have people to call their family, their brothers, their father. They always have a place to call home.
Permanency Related Articles:
Kinnect Ohio – A short film documenting the reality of the traumatic impact that the foster care experience has on children and the work being done to keep children connected to their family, their culture, and their community. Thank you to the amazing team at Faction for their work on the video and for sharing our vision of achieving permanency for all children.
At Kinnect, we train and coach professionals in the child welfare/protection field. We partner with public and private agencies to bring innovative best practice programs to Ohio. We advocate for children and families in crisis, whether due to homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues and/or similar challenges.
ACF – Children’s Bureau – For children who were adopted and their parents, school can be a uniquely challenging experience. Since teachers, counselors, school personnel, and peers play a key role in shaping a child’s educational and emotional development, their awareness of adoption-related issues is essential to ensuring a better understanding of the specific attitudes and behaviors often exhibited by this population of children and youth and helping create a positive school experience…The following resources highlight specific themes and ideas to better support adopted children in school settings:
3 Resources to help build the capacity of foster/adoptive parents: 1) What Teachers Should Know About Adoption; 2) Supporting Adopted Children with Special Needs in the School Setting; 3) School Issues for Adopted Children;
The mission of the National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness is to advance permanency for all children and youth, with Family Finding as a core strategy and a method that adds value to service systems. Every child has a family, and family members can be found when we try. Loneliness can be devastating, even dangerous, and is experienced by most children in out of home care. The single factor most closely associated with positive outcomes for children is meaningful, lifelong connections to family. Training may be designed to target specific areas of concern or to sustain learning in established practices. Consultation services offer specific approaches to meet the critical challenge of achieving timely permanency for all who are served…
NationSwell – Storycatchers Theatre – A nonprofit musical theatre group based in Chicago, helps justice-involved youth overcome trauma through workshops and performances. On the drive home from Priya Shah’s first Storycatchers musical, she pulled over. She was teary-eyed and emotionally moved by the musical she had just watched. Shah, who now serves as the executive director of Storycatchers, had just seen a musical at the Illinois Youth Center, a juvenile facility in Warrenville, Illinois. She watched girls tell stories of sexual abuse, battery, and neglect. She also saw stories of hope and resilience.
“It struck me that these characters I had just watched struggle, joke, grieve and triumph on stage, that they’re not just characters,” she told NationSwell. “They’re based on real people with real stories.” Shah left a corporate career to work with those girls and similar young people at Storycatchers Theatre. Storycatchers Theatre — also known as Storycatchers — is a nonprofit musical theater group that works with justice-involved youth in Chicago. Through programming both inside and outside of the justice centers, children and young adults turn their life stories into musicals…
A Fostered Life – Close your eyes and imagine you are with your mom and your baby brother. You are staying at a motel and Spongebob Squarepants is on TV. Suddenly, someone knocks at the door and two police officers come in and start talking to your mom. She starts to cry or yell, and then one takes you by the hand and tells you to come with him while the other one picks up your baby brother. No one tells you to grab your toy, so you don’t. You just get into the back of his police car…Then, after some time (a few hours perhaps?), another adult you’ve never met introduces herself to you…Your baby brother does not come with you…IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE FOSTER PARENTS INTERNALIZE THIS TRUTH: THE EXPERIENCE OF COMING INTO YOUR HOME IS YET ANOTHER TRAUMATIC EVENT IN THIS CHILD’S LIFE.
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Take care and keep up the Permanency work – Our children, youth, young adults, families, and communities are depending on it!