This week we had two new trainers. They switch every two weeks. For this session and the next session I have my Home Study worker as one of the trainers and a Foster Parent who is also a social worker, as the other trainer. They had great advice and everyone was very involved in the discussions. I will try to sum up this session the best I can as I didn’t take detailed notes due to the interaction level this time around.
The foster parent mentioned about a mentoring program for Foster Parents that they have there that no one had mentioned yet. I think it is a brilliant idea, to have someone always available to talk about things that are going on and can relate to. I am definitely going to be looking more into that.
This session was about Strengthening Family Relationships. We touched on a few key points:
Supporting Development of Positive Cultural Identity
We talked about different ways of supporting a positive cultural identity through a group exercise. We were separated into groups of different age ranges and discussed how we could help support the cultural development of that child. For example through attending cultural events, introducing different types of foods, sharing family photographs, acknowledging differences such as skin colour, clothing, etc., introducing different languages, etc.
This is a map of relationships and the strength of those relationships. We went over the map and for homework will create our ecomap showing people in our lives and the strength of that relationship.
Goals of Visiting Team Members
We went over each team member and a goal for them. This was a big discussion part of the session so I don’t have detailed notes. This is what I have down:
- Child’s Perspective: needs to know they are loved/loveable, want to know the parents are safe and involved, seeing birth family can help with separation process
- Birth Family’s Perspective: need to know the child is being cared for, need to know they are a meaningful part of the child’s life, gives them a chance to practice their parenting skills.
- Foster Parent’s Perspective: keep in touch with changes in the birth family, are supportive before/after child has visits, supportive role to the birth family
- Adoptive Parent’s Perspective: learn about birth family history, see inherited traits, learn about culture, demonstrate respect to the birth family.
Preparing Children for Visits
Next we discussed about preparing children for family visits through talking about their emotions, creating a clear understanding of what is happening (but keeping it simple) and about reassuring them that they are safe. One of the trainers of this session talked about her experience with birth parents who did not always show up for visits. The children did not want to talk about it when that happened, so instead of trying to get them to talk she would have a fun activity planned for if the parents didn’t show (cupcake baking/decorating, etc.). Also, she cared for a teen that did not feel safe//comfortable during visits, so they had a signal for when the teen wanted to leave.
At the end of this session we watched a few short clips about visits and then discussed what we saw.
Clip #1 – A visit was set up in the Foster Parents’ home. The birth mother is not there and it is past the visit time. The Foster Mother calls the Birth Mother and talks to her. The Birth Mother then arrives late (past the child’s bedtime) and does not really interact with the child and is very negative.
Clip #2 – This clip shows the behaviour of the foster child after the birth mother leaves. She is jumping on the bed, not listening and does not want to go to bed. After the clip we discussed why she may be acting this way and what was done by the Foster parents in this situation.
I hope I summed it up to understand a bit of what we touched on.