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: How Can She Want to be with Us When She Runs Away?
At any point in the permanency journey, our youth may display behaviors which on the surface appear to suggest that the child does not really want to be in relationship with the new permanent connections. Families and providers can be especially confused and frustrated when this sort of behavior includes running away and refusing to return. When this happens, it is important to view the behavior through the trauma, grief and loss lens in terms of first validating the cognitive and emotional challenges that the youth is likely struggling with instead of viewing the child through an oppositional-defiant / manipulative lens. These are the times in which the child more than ever needs unconditional love and support from her permanency connections.
Permanency Story of the Week: Tampa 18-year-old Chooses Adoptive Family Over Life on His Own
Tampa Bay Times – More than a Year ago, Mario Martell Thornton had to make a choice. After living nearly his entire life in foster care, he was going to turn 18 on Tuesday. That meant his few belongings had to be packed and ready to move from his foster home by 2 p.m. that day, when he officially aged out of the state’s care.
Unless, that is, he wanted to be adopted by a seemingly nice family he had met just two weeks earlier. “It was a little scary and weird at first because it was all happening so fast, but then I got to know them and really liked them,” Thornton said. “I knew I wanted a family. That’s all I’ve ever wanted my whole life.” Mario’s decision to opt for adoption is unusual for people his age. Though state law allows teens the option of staying in foster care until they turn 21 as long as they are still in school, officials say most simply want to be on their own.
The Imprint – Draped over LaTeesha Pinkney’s white “Gift of Compassion” t-shirt was a long, thin necklace, carefully strung with gold beads and a dozen or so charms. Pinkney made the necklace, hand-picking each charm for some significance or memory it brought to mind. When asked which is her favorite, the 26-year-old quickly spun the necklace to a smooth but oddly shaped green stone…Pinkney made the necklace as part of the Gift of Compassion fellowship, a program that she and five other former foster youth and leaders participated in to learn about meditation as a way to move through grief and find “a way back to your true self” – the group’s working definition of therapy.
This past Thursday, the cohort led a day-long conference for policy-makers, social workers, independent living coordinators, and other foster youth at the California Endowment called “Overcoming Trauma and Grief Through Meditation: A Dialogue on Available Youth Services.” The Gift of Compassion was created by Ying Ming Tu, who goes by Tu-2, and Angela Oh, who ran a similar program in Napa, California. When they began to explore conducting a similar program in Los Angeles, they collaborated with the RightWay Foundation and were connected with these six young people. Since January, the group has met one full Saturday every month, for sessions about defining and recognizing grief, and moving through the stages of that grief using meditation.
CBS Chicago – Adoption, like parenting, can be rewarding and challenging. But there are special concerns for parents adopting African-American babies, especially in this day, age and climate. It’s play time for Chad Weiden and his 3-year-old son, Uriah. Adopted as a baby from The Cradle in Evanston, Chad and his husband Baron Clay Jr. knew their lives would obviously change. “This act of adoption is not about you, it’s about that kid,” Weiden says. In their case, Uriah is a biracial boy with one white father and one black father. It meant preparing for parenthood in a unique way.
Clay anticipates his children will deal with racism, prejudice and possibly some unwanted attention for being a member of a transracial family. It’s something The Cradle’s Our Children’ initiative focuses on, too — helping educate prospective parents about adopting a black child.
Gov.UK – A new report finds that child sexual exploitation can be tackled best when all partners take responsibility for their roles, while also working collaboratively, with strategic goals clearly identified, understood and agreed across agencies. ‘Time to listen’− a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children – finds that the police service needs to improve their response by making sure children talk to one person of sufficient skill and experience to know how to help.
Baptist News – From outward appearances, Christy Haston is a typical single 30-something. An assistant principal at a North Dallas elementary school, Haston likes to spend time outdoors with friends and family. She likes to travel and enjoys running. But a closer look reveals Haston’s life is anything but common. She has answered a call to care for children who need temporary homes. It means opening her house to well-adjusted children and troubled ones, too. That is not the attitude or behavior often associated with a single 30-something.
“I’m all about doing whatever I can do to not be typical,” she said. “I don’t know if this is forever for me. I don’t know what my forever is,” Haston said. “I don’t know what the rest of my story is. But I know right now, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Pew Charitable Trusts – Stateline – The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children. Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis. Other states, such as Alaska, Kansas and Ohio, have issued emergency pleas for more people to become foster parents and take neglected children, many of them infants, into their homes.
National data doesn’t identify how many children are removed from their homes because of a parent’s substance abuse. And there’s no one standard for how states report substance abuse and child neglect. But many state officials say the surge in foster care cases is a direct result of the drug epidemic. The upsurge represents a turnaround for the nation’s foster care system. Children also are staying in foster care longer, and more children are entering the system because of a parent’s substance abuse, said Young, who in February testified before a U.S. Senate committee on the opioid epidemic’s impact on foster care.
For Love or Money: Increasing the Number of Foster Homes
The Imprint – Foster children are entering the foster care system in moderately increasing numbers. At the same time, we have fewer foster families who can meet their needs. Due to major changes in family life over the past generation, the situation is not likely to get better. To avoid a disaster, we need to change the way we recruit and treat foster parents.