[I apologize for the late post – last week was quite the week including the dog being sprayed by a skunk… my kids coming home from school because they smelled like skunk, my house smelling like skunk and to top it off… Thanksgiving dinner at my house!]
Session Two: Teamwork Towards Permanence
In this session we discussed the people involved with a child in care and their role in a team to help the child towards permanence (either back with their family, or with an adoptive family).
This week’s session helped me realize the reality of children in care and the unknowns they face. Our instructor had a great example to illustrate how it is for children in care. She gave all of us a hand out to complete. We had to answer questions such as “What do you plan to do tomorrow”…”Who do you plan to have with you tomorrow”… then one year from now, and five years from now…and what do you hope to accomplish and have with you to celebrate those accomplishments. Once we took the time to write out all of our answers she took one of the pages from someone and ripped it up…. and then taped it back together.
Children in care can make many plans, but they don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or a year from now, or five years. When they are taken from their family and placed with a Foster family their plans are ripped apart. With the Foster (or adoptive) family they can put their plans back together (taping the sheet back together), but it isn’t the same. The plans may be the same words, but it isn’t the same as it was. That demonstration really hit me. We can help the children put their plans back together and start planning again… but it is fragile. It can be ripped apart and the children most of the time realize this (and may be hesitant to put the pieces back together). Each time there is a big change, their plans may be ripped apart again. As a team we need to look at this and help the plan stay as intact as possible.
Group Activity – Team Work
We did a second activity, this time in groups. We read a case study about a child who had been in care for fifteen months. Each group was assigned to be a person in contact with this child: The Foster Parent; The Teacher; The Counsellor; The Social Worker. The groups had to discuss the perspective of that person regarding the child. My group was the Foster Mother. As the Foster Mother we were the “hub.” We received information from the Teacher, Counsellor and Social Worker and saw the day to day activities and reactions of the child. We oversaw this child’s life and had the most detail in what was happening on a day to day basis at that time, whereas the other people in this scenario only saw snippits of the child. The Foster Mother brought the parenting perspective and emotion to the table, whereas the others brought forward a professional opinion. The Foster Mother was able to discuss certain triggers for behaviour and reactions after meetings and talk about it with the other team members.
The Group activity was great for talking with others who have different views, or thought about things differently. It also helped us see how the different people involved with the children may have different views and input that is beneficial to the child.
Other Information – Bridging the Gap (Communication)
We also discussed “Bridging the Gap” and how to work as a team for this child. The “Team” being the social workers, the foster family, the birth family, counsellors, teachers and others involved with the child. We talked about positive discussions and sharing pictures and information with the birth family. We also discussed the different forms of contact. You may not have direct contact with the child’s birth parents, but may instead send pictures or progress updates. Or, it could be that the child’s parents come over for visits and are invited into your home. It differs with each family, so we talked about some ways to keep communication open and positive. The great thing about being taught by instructors who are (or have been) Foster Parents, they include some of their personal experiences in the lessons.
We also discussed a Log Book that Foster Parents keep of the children in care that goes with the child back home, or to their adoptive family.
There was a lot of information in a short period of time, so I am sure I missed a bunch of information discussed, but these are the points that stood out with me. Feel free to ask me questions about training items you want to know more about.