Permanency in the News Blog – Week of 03/03/14
Story of the Week:
It was hard enough being a foster child – being sent from one home to the next – but not having an adult around that wouldn’t leave was harder. That’s how Frank La Soya of Placentia saw his childhood. Now 62 years old, he volunteers with those he said he shares a bond with: abused foster children. He’s what they call “a CASA,” a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and more like him are needed, the organization’s officials say.
Current Permanency related articles:
While access to mental health services is critical for many youth, the services they receive often miss the mark; due to a lack of understanding about how youth themselves experience therapy. To address this, the California Council on Youth Relations (CCYR), with support from Zellerbach Family Foundation, has developed a 27-minute video and accompanying materials to train mental health practitioners about how to build therapeutic relationships with youth.
Information in the video and training materials is drawn from youth-led trainings to more than 2,500 marriage and family therapists, social workers and mental health practitioners. In addition to the video, there are free study guide materials, including recommendations for how to build a therapeutic relationship, exercises and a check-list of effective approaches. To learn more about the video and supporting materials, contact Patricia Johnson.
A powerful movie adapted from a musical written and acted by Youth in Foster Care. Their Lives. Their Stories. Their Voices.
How instability wreaks havoc on these children’s school lives—and what can be done to fix it
When 12-year-old Jimmy Wayne’s parents dropped him off at a motel and drove away, he became the newest member of the North Carolina Foster Care system. Over the next two years in the foster care system, he attended 12 different schools. “I don’t even remember what I learned—no, let me rephrase that—I don’t remember what they tried to teach me—after fifth grade,” he told me recently. “It wasn’t until I had a stable home and was taken in by a loving family in tenth grade that I was able to hear anything, to learn anything. Before that, I wasn’t thinking about science, I was thinking about what I was going to eat that day or where I could get clothes. When I was finally in one place for a while, going to the same school, everything changed. Even my handwriting improved. I could focus. I was finally able to learn.”
Only 50 percent of the 400,000 foster care children in the United States complete high school by age 18.
Chronicle of Social Change – California is one of six states that place decisions concerning psychotropic medication of foster children in the hands of the juvenile court. In 1999 the legislature, at the urging of Los Angeles County Juvenile Court Judge Terry Friedman, enacted Senate Bill 543. The legislation took away the authority of parents whose children were placed in foster care to make decisions about whether or not their child should be given psychotropic medications.
By handing over the authority to decide if a child in foster care should be given psychotropic medication to the juvenile court, the legislature sought to reduce the growing use of medication as a means of controlling troublesome behaviors of foster children. But since the statute’s enactment the use of psychotropic medications with foster children has continued to increase steadily, which raises questions about the efficacy of the process.
During California’s Beyond the Bench XXII conference in December, about 90 professionals [attorneys, judges, social workers, etc] participated in a workshop entitled “Psychotropic Medication of Foster Children and Other Wards of the Court: Time for Change?”
First Star is restoring hope for these youth through Foster Youth Academies programs around the nation. These Academies offer college-focused residential programs strategically located on college campuses with monthly follow-up programs. Our students receive superior academic support, enrichment and encouragement to help them prepare for and enter two- and four-year colleges. Thus, the Academies are laying a foundation to improve the likelihood that these youth will seek and attain higher education, good jobs, personal wellbeing, career advancement, economic independence, and the ability to contribute to society as responsible citizens. This groundbreaking program was first envisioned by First Star Board Member, Dr. Kathleen Reardon, in her book Childhood Denied.
Groups of students from Los Angeles and the state of Rhode Island, entering ninth and tenth grades are participating in Academies on the campuses of the University of California, Los Angeles (launched in 2011), the University of Rhode Island (launched in 2012), and the University of Connecticut (launched in 2013). The First Star Academy on The George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C. commenced operation in the summer of 2012.
Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America (REFCA) – Our primary mission is to inspire, implement, and support innovative practices which ensure that children and youth experiencing foster care find their places in loving, connected family relationships and supportive communities that help them lead fulfilling, productive lives.