Permanency in the News is a weekly roundup of media stories on permanency in child welfare curated and distributed by Dr. Greg Manning. Below you will find this week’s edition.
Permanency Tip of the Week: They Treated Him So Badly. Why Does He Want to go Back?
When working with youth who have had objectively and/or subjectively very painful and negative experiences with their family, it can be challenging at times to appreciate why they still want to go back with them. What we need to realize is that our youth in out-of-home care can be characterized as often/always being in “survival mode” in terms of trying to find anyone who will provide them with permanency. When a youth states that he wants to return to the parent whose conduct led them to enter foster care, we need to pause and view the situation through a grief and loss/trauma lens so that we can be empathic and supportive of them. This does not mean that we automatically put them back with this parent. It is critically important that we validate their feelings and begin to try and appreciate what role this parent has played in their life and continues to play in their life. Failure to do this can cause us to lose our connection with the youth and the youth in turn will likely lose out in their short and long-term search for permanency.
Permanency Story of the Week: This Adoption Recruiter says, “You Gotta Believe!”
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – Pat O’Brien has been working to find adoptive homes for children in foster care for 30 years. After 18 years working at a nonprofit that I founded called “You Gotta Believe!” which focuses on finding permanent families for youth on the verge of aging out, I moved on to become a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) recruiter. It was a job I knew well as I worked with these men and women for 18 years before deciding that I too should be a recruiter.
One story that sticks out is a young boy who lived with his great grandparents. He wound up in a residential treatment school due to special needs that his great grandparents could not handle. They desperately wanted him back, but I had to look at the big picture – who would be there for this child in the long run? When the boy’s great grandfather died, I went to the funeral. I saw how many relatives this child had in his family. Working with the family, I introduced to them to the idea that any relative could become licensed to take guardianship of this young boy. The child’s great uncle and aunt stepped up; by placing him with a family member this young man had easy access to all the people who love him.
Current Permanency Related Articles:
ACES Connection – I make no bones about it, as a foster child, I don’t think I was an easy person to get along with and I certainly wasn’t trying to make bonds or connections with those around me. I went into foster care at the age of 13. My life prior to entering the system was one of immense dysfunction, and I had practically raised myself … Chaos had become my normal … I had thought foster care would be a positive solution to the life I was living. What I found was more of the same. Loneliness, isolation and depression followed me into care … I spent those years hiding the past, keeping myself at arm’s length from any real relationships and doing the one thing I was knew I was good at, “lying.” I didn’t know it at the time, but I found myself in what I now refer to as “trauma brain.” Going to that comfortable place in my mind of Fight, Flight, Freeze or Appease … I am thrilled to say that I have a new career that allows me to help others recognize their trauma brain and the trauma brain of those around them, to help themselves and others heal in a brand new way. We all deserve to try out a new place to sled.
KPJR Films – Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary “Resilience” reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time and early death. While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune. “Resilience,” however, also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back. Trailblazers in pediatrics, education and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of toxic stress — and the dark legacy of a childhood that no child would choose.
Facilitators Guide to the film ‘Resilience’ – a must read – This is an excellent tool to use as a discussion guide to accompany screenings of the documentary and is a rich resource for understanding ACEs science and resilience and their relationship to child maltreatment in general.
The Tribune – During this, National Bullying Prevention Month, we at CASA of San Luis Obispo County are reminded of how vulnerable foster youths are to bullying, and how our volunteer CASAs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, help support and protect foster youths.
KUER – NPR Utah – There was a time when adoptions were a source of shame for a birth mother, and weren’t discussed in the adoptive family. But that slowly changed with birth control, a demographic shift in babies available for adoption, and the “adoption rights movement.” Today, 95 percent of infants in the U.S. are placed in “open adoptions” where the birth mother and the family have some sort of contact. Thursday, we’re talking about how adoption has changed over time, and what it means for children and families.
Los Angeles Times – Jevonne Davis was in the fifth grade when his life changed. After a childhood spent bouncing from home to home, he met his new foster mother in Compton — and she took him to the theater. The child was transfixed by the actors onstage, by the dancing, the singing, the sheer creativity. He leaned over and whispered to his foster mom: “I want to be part of this.”
Davis is 18 now, a veteran of the stage and screen. Last week, he and two fellow Los Angeles County foster youths were honored at the White House’s inaugural South by South Lawn festival for a short film they starred in, wrote and directed. The film they made this summer, called “Time for Change,” was a finalist in the White House Student Film Festival, one of more than 700 entries. The students, selected by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, worked with Kids in the Spotlight, a Burbank nonprofit that teaches young people filmmaking skills…
Youth Today – For years, the child welfare system in America has focused on the most urgent needs of the children it served, making sure they’re safe, with enough food to eat and clean clothes to wear, while striving to achieve permanent placement. Although those are crucial first steps, they are not enough and never have been. We need to think about the well-being of these children more broadly and give them the tools they’ll need to succeed in life. But for most, education, the best path out of poverty, will prove elusive.