Greetings Permanency Champions,
Permanency Tip of the Week: Permanency for the “Parentified” Child
When we are seeking Permanency for a sibling set, or an older youth who is separated from their siblings, we need to be aware of the possible impact of this process on a Youth who is used to being in the role of a parent. We first need to recognize that being Parentified can be a necessary strategy employed by a child to help ensure the survival of their siblings. Adjusting to being parented can be a major source of loss for the youth, especially in terms of identify / role, and come with it all the normal grief reactions such as anger, resentment, etc. When we honor this possible source of loss and support the youth through the grieving process, we increase the chances that they will be able to embrace their new-found Permanency.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: ALWAYS ON MY MIND
This guest blog post is written by Felicia Newell, a Grants Manager for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. She is also a former Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter who continues to have a passion for foster care adoption. In August 2016, my husband of 20 years passed away. I was 47 years old and it was my mother who held my hand when I laid him to rest. It was my cousin who said, “You know you can’t live alone right now. You’re coming to stay with me.”
This is what I wanted for the youth on my Wendy’s Wonderful Kids caseload when I was a recruiter. I wasn’t looking for someone to simply raise them. I wanted them to have a home when the college dorms closed for the holiday break, a dad to call when their car broke down on the highway and a mother to hold their hand if the doctor said, “You have a lump.” The thought of what would happen to one of my kids if I failed would sometimes keep me up at night. Stressful as it was, I simply loved the work…
Despite our best efforts, there are times when we are unsuccessful. Each recruiter has their own “Elliott.” But part of my responsibility is to ensure that when they look back years from now, they know that they did everything they could to help a child. The inner bulldog that we possess and the love we have for our kids are what make this program work, and after nearly ten years I’m still thrilled to be a part of it. So that every child has a hand to hold and a place to just be, when they need it most.
Permanency Related Articles:
Echo Parenting and Education – You’ve worked through the questions in our infographic “What Lies Beneath Behavior?” and instead of judging or punishing you’ve figured out the child is just trying to do the best they can to communicate whatever pain or distress lives inside of them… “So now what do I do?” you ask. The bad news is that there is no manualized program, no one-size fits all solution, no magic wand we can wave. Childhood trauma usually comes as the result of a breach in relationship and trust, and the best way to heal it is to rebuild those things, slowly, painstakingly and with a lot of patience…So having given yourself some empathy and practiced some self-soothing, now you’re ready to engage. Follow these steps to work out a trauma-informed response:1) Create safety. 2) Regulate the nervous system. 3) Build a connected relationship. 4) Support development of coherent narrative. 5) Practice ‘power-with’ strategies 6) Build social emotional and resiliency skills. 7) Foster post-traumatic growth…
Chronicle of Social Change – Social Justice Solutions – According to a study by nonprofit organizations iFoster and Foster Care Counts, a researcher at the University of Southern California found that access to a personal computer positively impacts the lives of youth in foster care. The study evaluated the impact of computer ownership on 730 youths’ lives by measuring academic performance, social connections and life satisfaction. Laptops Matter!
Journalist Resource – Previous research has looked at the mental and physical health of foster care children. A 2016 study published in Pediatrics, for example, found that children placed in foster care were three to five times more likely to suffer mental health problems such as depression and attention deficit disorder than children who were never in foster care.
A new study examines the life experiences of children who are placed in foster care…Some key findings: 1) Of the seven adverse experiences, parental divorce or separation was most common among all children in the study. 2) Children who had spent time in foster care were much more likely to have had one of the seven adverse experiences. 3) Children who had been placed in foster care were more likely than low-income children to have these adverse experiences. 4) Children placed in foster care had a greater likelihood of having endured most of the seven adverse experiences than children who grew up in single-mother households.
“This suggests that children in foster care are uniquely disadvantaged relative to a host of other types of children, including children who have an elevated risk of ACEs [adverse childhood experiences] such as children in poverty or children living with single mothers.”
Annie E. Casey Foundation – The Annie E. Casey Foundation urged policymakers not to back away from targeted investments that help U.S. children become healthier, more likely to complete high school and better positioned to contribute to the nation’s economy as adults. The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book also shows the child poverty rate in 2015 continued its drop, landing at 21%. In addition, children experienced gains in reading proficiency and a significant increase in the number of kids with health insurance. However, the data indicate that unacceptable levels of children living in poverty and in high-poverty neighborhoods persist.
Ukiah Daily Journal – An emerging body of literature indicates that childhood trauma and relational poverty affect brain development, causing long-term physical and emotional problems even into adulthood…In the mid-1990s, a massive study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that childhood trauma increased people’s risk for many illnesses…
But there is hope! Dr. Bruce Perry is one of many to recognize that the normal pathways to higher cortical functions in the brain—those that process sensory input—are often blocked by the brain’s lower, more reactive functions when children undergo trauma. Their early experiences lead them to believe that those who come close will either hurt them or abandon them…Dr. Perry shared many practical approaches about how to open up these pathways that allow sensory intake to get to the higher levels of the brain for healthier processing. Sharing the importance of pattern, repetition, rhythmic activities, walking, running, humming, swinging, dancing, and other approaches that facilitate self-regulation, as well as environmental regulation, provided practical insight.
The Spokesman Review (WA) – When the state took away her two youngest sons and sent them to live with a relative, Marsha Valenzuela knew she needed to change…During an emotional event Friday afternoon at the Spokane County Courthouse, Valenzuela joined dozens of other parents who have worked hard to reunite with their children. Several advocacy groups took part in “Reunification Day,” including the Spokane Parent Advocacy Network and Parents 4 Parents, which is based at the courthouse.
A decade ago, the county began using a collaborative model that helps parents get their children out of foster care, said Michelle Ressa, a Spokane County court commissioner. It brings together lawyers, judges, appointed guardians and social workers to provide a consistency that’s often lacking in family legal proceedings. Parents can better navigate the legal maze and meet custody qualifications when all those parties work together, Ressa said. Her advice to parents in the same situation: “You’re not alone. There’s people who have been there before, who can show you the way, who can show that there is hope to get your kids back.”
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Take care and keep up the Permanency work – Our children, youth, young adults, families and communities are depending on it!