Greetings Permanency Champions,
Permanency Tip of the Week: It’s All About the Kids, or is it?
One of the concerns often raised about youth extra-curricular activities is that in their purest form, they can be among the best experiences for youth. The experience for the youth often go awry once the needs of the adults supersede those of the youth. This shift can be so subtle that it is hard to notice the change until it is potentially too late. The same potentially can be said about Permanency efforts in Child Welfare where the focus can shift from going all-in to secure and sustain Permanency for all children to making sure that the plan we develop is one that allows us to stay within our comfort zone. When this practice drift occurs, we must all commit to openly challenging it and returning our focus to secure and sustain all youth in loving family homes that will last a lifetime.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: Celebrating 25 Years of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
It is an exciting year for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption as we celebrate our 25th anniversary on July 31. Since 1992, the Foundation has been committed to the vision of our founder, Dave Thomas: to ensure every child has a permanent and loving family. Our mission has never wavered. Each day we work to dramatically increase the number of adoptions from foster care. We believe that family is the birthright of every child and that every child is adoptable.
In 25 years, we’ve reached some remarkable milestones. We were one of the co-founders of National Adoption Day, a grassroots collaborative that is now embedded in all 50 states and D.C.; significantly expanded our Adoption-Friendly Workplace campaign, encouraging adoption benefits in the workplace; and launched aggressive messaging to dispel myths and misperceptions while elevating success stories through social and traditional media.
In 2004, we initiated our signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, providing grants to adoption agencies to hire specially-trained adoption recruiters. These professionals focus solely on finding permanent, loving families for the children most at risk of aging out of foster care – older youth, children in sibling groups, children with challenges and youth who have simply given up hope. Today, the Foundation supports more than 270 recruiters across North America and more than 7,000 children have been adopted or are in pre-adoptive placements. Children like Dawson and Dalton, who might have been separated and lingering in the foster care system due to their age and Dalton’s special needs, will now grow up together in a family, because of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.
However, our work is far from done. Each year, more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care in the United States without the love and support of the family that they deserve. So we have our eyes on the future with lofty goals. On January 1st, we launched an aggressive expansion of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids that over the next 12 years scales the program in every state, driving toward permanent, adoptive homes for 60,000 children. We want you alongside for this exciting ride. There is so much work to be done, but these children deserve our best efforts, and that is exactly what they will get.
I’d like to thank those who have supported the Foundation in the past 25 years, and those who have just joined us on the journey. We wouldn’t be able to embrace our future with such confidence without the unwavering support of those who are as committed to our mission as we are. On behalf of each and every child waiting for a family and a home, and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
All good wishes,
President & CEO
Permanency Related Articles:
More than 110,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are legally free for adoption, yet more than 20,000 of these kids will never find an adoptive family. After a childhood of hardship, youth exiting the system without family support face a high risk of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration and other negative life outcomes. But the 2017 US Adoption Attitudes Survey offers a glimmer of new hope.
According to the survey, nearly 80 percent of individuals looking to adopt for the first time would consider adopting a child in foster care, a 7 percent increase since 2012. Rita Soronen, the chief executive of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the organization that commissioned the study, considers this a substantial shift in public attitudes. “Foster care adoption hasn’t always been an easy or pleasant conversation,” she says. “All of us in the child welfare stratosphere have worked hard to educate the public to change misperceptions about foster care adoption and heighten awareness.”…For parents like Jillian Lauren, the joy of foster adoption is far greater than the struggle. “The minute we looked into our son’s eyes, we knew,” she says. “It’s just been such a special experience, the whole messy thing.”
Chronicle of Social Change – As trauma-informed initiatives have multiplied in recent years, more child welfare agencies are now grappling with how to properly screen for trauma. Along with access to trauma-focused, evidence-based treatments and staff training, screening is a key part of building a trauma-informed system…But implementation concerns — such as how to integrate screening into agency practices and ensuring that sufficient trauma-informed services are available to children — are still an issue for most child-welfare agencies. According to Jason Lang, director of dissemination and implementation for the Child Health and Development Institute and the lead author of a case study on trauma screening, most child welfare systems do not routinely screen children for trauma…The paper suggests several recommendations for child welfare systems considering implementing trauma screenings, including assembling an implementation team, identifying specific measures to collect in the trauma screen, prioritizing implementation and forging better collaboration with mental health departments.
Robert F Kennedy National Center for Juvenile Justice – In a best practice methodology, juvenile probation combines monitoring and oversight for compliance with the court ordered conditions and targeted responses to priority areas of youth and family behaviors that promote positive behavior change. In this approach, juvenile probation serves to ameliorate the risk for re-offending thereby improving public safety, while simultaneously increasing the chances that youth will develop improved cognitive behavioral skills and abilities that will interrupt their trajectory into adult criminality. The Robert F. Kennedy National Center for Juvenile Justice has made juvenile probation self-assessment in partnership with state and local jurisdictions an organizational priority. This column, published in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange in June 2016, details the key components of the system review process and the key tenets and practices that comprise a probation and juvenile justice system truly aligned with those approaches that improve youth and system outcomes.
National Clearing House on Youth and Families – Ahrens et al. interviewed 22 current and former foster youth, ages 15 to 21, to learn their perspectives on the factors that put child welfare-involved youth at greater risk for becoming adolescent parents and contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) compared with youth in the general population. Biggest takeaways from the research: The authors found that study participants’ perspectives on the prevention of teen pregnancy and STIs were similar in many respects to viewpoints held by other youth populations…Many youth also described an overall lack of trust and discussed examples of experiences in which they failed to accurately assess a potential partner’s trustworthiness. Here are three of the authors’ suggestions: 1) Use examples and scenarios that mirror the lived experience of foster youth. 2) Promote protective beliefs and identify harmful ones. 3) Discuss ways to improve emotion regulation.
Social Justice Solutions – One or two decades from now, we might look back at a Northwestern University study completed this month as a major turning point in the history of child welfare, foster care and adoption. Researchers announced this month that two substances have shown to be effective in rolling back some of the effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), a slate of conditions conferred to babies born to mothers who drink during pregnancy. Researchers found that two medications (the hormone thyroxine and the drug metformin) removed learning and memory problems usually associated with FASDs when provided to alcohol-exposed baby rats after birth…
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