Permanency Tip of the Week: Emotional Safety – Part 1 of 4 – What is it and How is it Evaluated?
Emotional safety can be difficult to both define and measure; however, it is central to the success of our work with at-risk children and families. Physical safety is often a prominent factor both in a child’s entry into foster care and in the ongoing assessment of their experience in foster care. It can be measured by the overall physical well-being of a child. Emotional safety can be evaluated by the quality of the relationship between the child and their primary caregiver. One way to understand emotional safety is to see what happens for a child when they are experiencing painful and/or difficult thoughts and emotions. If a child is struggling emotionally and/or cognitively, do they seek out the primary caregiver or not? Next week, we will discuss why emotional safety is so important.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: ‘We have a family’: Adoptions Go Virtual During Pandemic
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – The Scott family, of Oregon, finalized the adoption of siblings Jeremisha, Floyd and Jermaine during the COVID 19 pandemic, with support from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiter, Edna Green. “Even during this pandemic, we had something glorious happen,” says Edna. Through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, the Foundation funds adoption professionals, like Edna, who are dedicated to finding forever families for youth most at risk of aging out of foster care. That includes teenagers, children with special needs and siblings. Learn more here.
Permanency Related Articles:
New York Times – Her dorm closed for the quarantine. In a month she ages out of foster care. What happens when there is no safety net? Last fall, toward the end of her first semester in college, Destiny Moura turned in a paper for an English composition class in which she described her introduction, at the age of 14, to “the life.’’ The “life’’ referred to the exploitation of girls by pimps, traffickers, manipulators.
In Destiny’s case, these abuses brought to conclusion a childhood that never had any proper beginning. A great deal of instability preceded this point; so much sadness and shame followed. But by the end of last year, Destiny, at 20, had rebuilt herself, as a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College with a grade-point average of 3.4.
The journey was accompanied by rewards both internal and external — she loved her coursework and the people she met. She even loved her commute to the BMCC campus in TriBeCa from a group home north of the city where she was in foster care. In January, through the Dormitory Project, an initiative designed to help children in New York City’s foster system succeed in college, Destiny was given the most meaningful of these new gifts a place of her own — a room at a residential hotel, with other students, in Midtown Manhattan. The apartments she had shared with her family growing up in the Bronx were marked by the chaos of addiction. Her new room was quiet and serene, with a view of the Empire State Building. The joy of occupying it ended abruptly in March, when the emergence of COVID emptied dorms around the world, leaving Destiny with no obvious or adequate place to go…
Porch Productions (Montana) – Having recently aged out of foster care, From Place to Place follows plucky underdogs Mandy, Micah and Raif as they face with little support beyond their social worker, Matt. Raif falls in and out of love as many times as he jumps trains, Mandy tries to succeed at her education and relationship and Micah just can’t stay out of jail. Mustering courage into action, Mandy and Raif travel to Capitol Hill to tell their stories and change the system that raised them for generations to come.
Sharon Rozia – Adoption, foster and kinship care are important resources for addressing the needs of children in crisis. The majority of adoptions today originate from foster care and kinship care-giving which typically means the child has suffered trauma and/or neglect. Families built through foster, kinship care and adoption represent bitter-sweet forms of family building as they incorporate the joys and pain of both loss and gain. All members of the adoption/permanency constellation, which include adopted persons, birth/first parents, permanent parents and extended family, experience lifelong inter-generational losses and complexities. How and when individuals are affected by both the positive and challenging issues of adoption and permanency depends upon many factors. These variables include personality, temperament, developmental stage at the time losses and/or trauma occurred, support systems, numbers of attachment disruptions, ongoing access to kin and whether there is open and honest communication between constellation members.
Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency are experienced by all members of the constellation and include the following: 1) Loss; 2) Rejection; 3) Shame and Guilt; 4) Grief; 5) Identity; 6) Intimacy; 7) Mastery and Control
Alia Innovations – Read the Report – In the spring of 2018, we were an eager group of people with shared values around how to serve kids and families. It took the first 6 months of meeting for us to get to know each another, build trust, and determine exactly what we were trying to accomplish together.
In the Fall of 2018, we started putting our Change Framework into play. In the year following, and in contrast to national trending data, the Cohort agencies achieved an average reduction of the number of youth in care by 12%. During the same period, the number of youth in residential care decreased by an average of 37%.
The way these agencies think about the work changed first, and practice shifted as a result. There were no new funding streams or policy changes. Change hasn’t always come easy, and the leaders have experienced this firsthand. Set to release the case study earlier this year, we took an opportunity to hold off and make an addition to the publication. Flip to the end of the case study for the 8-page addendum called, “Guidance for Leaders” on how to interpret, prepare for, and respond to intense resistance.
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) – In January, Sharral Dean, a therapist at the Family Counseling Center of Central Georgia, was seeing about 30 young clients a week. At any given time, five to seven of them were what Dean calls “at risk” — more likely to experience violence at home, at higher risk for depression, anxiety, fighting in school and entering the juvenile justice system. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders that came with it, many of her clients have shifted to receiving therapy by video conference. But not her at-risk ones — they simply stopped showing up. “We’re not hearing from these kids,” she said, and “it’s a great concern.”
What worries Dean and Patty Gibbs, the center’s executive director, is that for these youths, the silence reflects more than a digital divide. “Without school, where are those kids going, and what are they doing?” Gibbs said. She’s seen the reports of rising domestic violence rates since the onset of the pandemic; she fears the kids who have already seen too much violence are now seeing even more.
To youth at risk for experiencing violence or other trauma at home, the school closures translate to losses that go well beyond missed opportunities for learning and in-person graduations and proms. School’s role as a source of nutrition for many youth has been well-documented — but school may also be the only setting that addresses a vulnerable child’s need for good role models, for safety, for redemption.
For kids who are safer at school than at home, what happens when school shuts down? …
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