Permanency Tip of the Week: Connections, Relationships, Permanency, and THEN Permanent Placement (hopefully) – Part 5 – Permanent Placement
Permanency efforts are fundamentally a relationship-building process and NOT a placement process. For some of the children we serve, some of the Permanency relationships we locate may translate into permanent placement opportunities. It is critically important that we collaborate with both the children and the new caregivers to intentionally plan the transition of the child into their new role as a child in the family and the adult(s) into their new role as caregivers of the child. Too often we can be focused on getting the placement made as soon as possible instead of getting them in as soon as it is right for ALL involved. This process will be unique to each case and should be done with thorough preparation using a model of gradual approximation. Gradual approximation involves allowing the relationship to naturally transition from visits to short stays to longer stays and ultimately to permanent placement. We should be alert to and warn everyone involved that this journey will be just like life – a roller coaster and that the entire team will work together to support everyone involved and smooth out the ride as much as possible.
Permanency Success Story of the Week:
Parents.com – When Lacey Dunkin first thought about becoming a mother, she saw one thing in her future: boys. “It wasn’t that I believed I could only bond with a son—when I was daydreaming about having a family, I just saw myself with a boy,” says Dunkin, 32, of Fresno, California. Then in her mid-20s and living with her parents, Dunkin longed for a child and didn’t view marriage as a prerequisite. At her mother’s suggestion, Dunkin considered fostering a child first and found Aspiranet, a family-services agency with offices throughout California with a special focus on foster care and adoption…
By late September, Dunkin started to worry that as a single woman, she might never be contacted. Then late one night, a social worker called: “She told me she had a foster-care emergency placement: four sisters ages 5, 2-year-old twins, and 1,” says Dunkin. (In the interest of privacy, Aspiranet chose not to reveal the particulars of the circumstances surrounding the girls’ story.) “I was barely awake, but I said yes.” Within a couple of hours, Dunkin had four confused little girls burning off nervous energy darting around her living room…
The next morning, Dunkin called into work and prepared to take Sophia, the eldest, to her kindergarten class. “I was making her breakfast and she asked me if I had any daughters and if she could be my daughter, which broke my heart,” says Dunkin. “She asked what she could call me and I told her, ‘My name is Lacey, and you can call me whatever you want to call me.’ By the time I found her school and dropped her off, she was introducing me as her mom…”
“I want people to know that foster children are not bad, they’re not broken,” says Dunkin. “Children are resilient and want and need a loving home.”
Permanency Related Articles:
A Fostered Life – The thing to note about pillars is that a structure can stand for a while if one of these is broken or missing. But without all of these in place, the structure is weakened and vulnerable to breaking down. This is certainly the case for me. I have to be diligent in assessing how I’m doing pretty frequently—at least once a week. I need to look over the landscape of my life and interactions with my kids and see if the pillars are all standing. When they’re not, it is only a matter of time before a breakdown begins to occur. I snap. I scream. I say things I later regret. I scare the very children I am trying to heal. When things fall apart—or, more accurately, when I fall apart—I can always look back and see where one of these pillars was neglected or missing.
Harvard University – Center on the Developing Child – Science shows that children who do well despite serious hardship have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult. These relationships buffer children from developmental disruption and help them develop “resilience,” or the set of skills needed to respond to adversity and thrive. This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains how protective factors in a child’s social environment and body interact to produce resilience and discusses strategies that promote healthy development in the face of trauma.
Los Angeles Times – I was born into foster care. My mother was in prison when she was raped and became pregnant with me. Like many mothers who must surrender their children to foster care because of addiction, disability, mental illness or incarceration, she was not allowed to keep me. And like all children entering the child welfare system, I didn’t have a choice either. I was more fortunate than most because I was adopted when I was 3 years old. My adoptive mother was a single mother — remarkable and strong and a loving woman…But just before my college graduation, my life turned upside-down. My adoptive mother passed away, and that same year my biological mother sent me a letter from prison. It was my first contact with her, and through the letter, I learned that I was a product of rape. I hoped I might be able to have a relationship with her, but she didn’t want to meet me…
I know the difference a mentor can make. An executive director of a nonprofit greatly helped me in my immediate post-college years. When a dear friend committed suicide, he helped me navigate a career change from architecture to child welfare and clinical psychology. A retired dean of education instilled in me the confidence I needed throughout my journey to earn my doctorate in public policy and nonprofit leadership…
Chronicle of Social Change – When Marcellia Goodrich was growing up in Los Angeles County foster homes, identifying as queer was a source of friction. She recalls one foster mom refusing to send her to prom because she would have taken another girl as a date. “She used to say God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” said Goodrich, now 28. A new bill moving through the California state legislature aims to ensure LGBTQ foster youth won’t have to endure that kind of discrimination from their foster families.
Assembly Bill (AB) 175, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D), updates the state’s Foster Youth Bill of Rights, written nearly 20 years ago in 2001. The changes proposed by AB 175 add explicit protections and assurances for LGTBQ youth in the system, among other issues. The bill would set an expectation of culturally competent care for LGBTQ youth, enshrine their right to be referred to by their chosen gender and name, allow youth to keep their sexual orientation private and add the right for LGBTQ youth to attend events and activities geared toward their orientation or gender…
New York Daily News – In the flurry of progressive bills passed at the end of the legislative session, a historic confluence in family law slipped by unnoticed. Two bills passed that reflect a sea change in how we understand adoption. They would put New York at the forefront of recognizing that adoption should be about expanding, not obliterating, family ties. But now some are lobbying Gov. Cuomo to veto one of the bills and keep us in the Stone Age when it comes to adoption.
The first bill allows adoptees to access their original, long-form birth certificates. This may sound like a dry administrative change, but there were not many dry eyes during the debate on the Assembly floor as three legislators spoke of their own deep need as adoptees to understand their origins, and other legislators apologized to adoptees for not taking this step sooner…
The second adoption bill that passed is more controversial, though it stems from the exact same idea as the first: we should allow adoptees to embrace their origins as well as their new families. An increasing percentage of adoptions are of children in foster care. In contrast to private adoptions, which are voluntary, these adoptions result from the government severing the legal relationship between parent and child. Traditionally, terminating parental rights — called “the death penalty” of family law — has meant an abrupt end to the parent-child relationship, even when, as is often the case, the children lived much of their lives with their parents, visited with them while in foster care, and remain strongly bonded to them…
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