World Wide Wednesday, March 25, 2015

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • “Faith in Family”When the social worker brought my new daughter to my house, she wasn’t the African-American girl I was expecting. And so we became a transracial family.
    by Tracy Clausell-Alexander

  • “Googling Her Birth Parents”: My daughter wanted to know more about her birth parents. Could the Internet have the answers she was looking for? by Annie Kassof
  • Black or White Movie Review – Guest Post by Lori Holden: Though Black or White earns its adoption stripes through simple kinship adoption (Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer vie for custody of the granddaughter they share, Eloise, played by the luminous Jillian Estell), the bigger message for adoptive families is the devastating split a person can experience when divided in two by color, race, biology and/or biography. And how not dealing with tough emotions such as anger and grief rarely means they resolve on their own.
  • Finding a Niche of their Own: A common rite of passage for youth is finding a niche, whether it’s with peers, co-workers or society. For some, it is a staggering obstacle to overcome.But the thousands who are too old for foster care and too young for complete independence are just as lost in their young adulthood as they were in their youth.

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Preparing the Kids in Your Home for Fostering

Not only do parents make adjustments in their lives when a child in care enters their home, the children in the house are in Preparing the Kids in Your Home for Fosteringfor changes too . . . big changes! It doesn’t matter if they are born or adopted into the family or are currently in foster care. Adjustments come easily for some—they move over at the table, know they will have to share your time and smile—while others are still processing the changes they had to make well into adulthood.

Humor and Insight
One Wisconsin dad, with humor and insight, tells a story about his nine-year-old son. On the evening that he and his wife were going to foster parenting classes, his son said, “Dad, so you and Mom are going to be gone all night and neglecting me all evening so that you can learn how to care for other kids you’re going to bring into our house?”

This wise father knows that his son anticipates making some big changes and is probably fearing it. It’s the savvy parent who knows that the whole family will be making changes.

On the other hand, some birth children take fostering and adopting for granted. They are in a position to appreciate what their parents are doing and feel part of it. They learn their new dances in the family circle.

One woman who grew up with biological, adopted and foster siblings says, “I think I lived in my own bubble all my life. The kids who came were almost all younger than me, so I didn’t have to compete with them for anything, other than the bathroom. But that was just normal.”

She goes on to say, “I was old enough to understand the basics of foster care, so the comings and goings weren’t a big deal either. Growing up in a foster home is what it is—it’s hard to describe unless you have lived another way to compare it to something.”

Both reactions are valid. Be open to any reactions your kids may have and have some tools ready to help the family expand.

Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: My Wish

Dominique Age 6 Calumet County_Page_1It’s been about a month since we kicked off our #100DaysOfWishes campaign on Facebook in an effort to help recruit foster families throughout Wisconsin. The response to date has been incredible. We have seen a huge increase in

  • the number of people who like our Facebook page
  • the number of comments on and shares of the #100DaysOfWishes posts
  • a 23% increase in the number of inquiries about how to become a foster parent
  • parents talking to other parents on Facebook, encouraging them to foster.

We’re thrilled with the results and we hope to keep these positive changes going. But we need your help in order to make that happen.

Bryson  Age 5  Racine CountyWe need foster parents to talk with the children and youth in their care and ask them about their wishes. Simple things like some of the examples in this newsletter. Here’s how you can help:

  • Ask the child or youth to write down his or her wish in one sentence starting with “I wish . . .” or “My wish is . . .” Each child can submit as many wishes as he or she would like! But please submit only one wish per page.
  • Artwork is strongly encouraged to be included with the child’s wish!
  • All submissions should be handwritten or hand drawn or painted.
    • Wishes can be scanned and sent via email or mailed to:
      Coalition for Children, Youth & Families
      Attn: Jenna Czaplewski
      6682 W Greenfield Ave., Ste 310
      Milwaukee WI 53214

We are looking to share as many wishes as we can; not only during the #100DaysOfWishes campaign, but continuing through the year, as well. You can help by working with the children you care for to create more wishes for us to feature. You can also help us share the campaign by liking our Facebook page and sharing the #100DaysOfWishes posts when they are up!

Nylah, age 6, Washington CountyIf you have any questions about the campaign or how to submit a wish, please call Jenna at 414-475-1246 or 1-800-762-8063. You may also send an email to mywish@coalitionforcyf.org.

The My Wish campaign is a collaborative effort with SERVE Marketing, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families.

Under the Umbrella is the weekly enewsletter from the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. If you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter in your in-box, please do so here.

World Wide Wednesday, March 18, 2015

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • In Your Best Interest: A Teen’s Guide to the Child Welfare System in Wisconsin is a legal guide that helps youth navigate their way through the foster care system in Wisconsin. This guide explains the function of child protective services, introduces the people involved from social workers to lawyers and judges, describes permanency plan options and foster youth rights. The guide includes an introduction to going to court, as well as questions that a judge might ask during court.

  • The Storyboard Projectusing story to empower and educate foster and homeless youth transitioning into adulthood.
  • You Might be a Foster Parent if . . . The author of this article asked several foster parents to fill in the blank to the phrase “You might be a foster parent if . . .”

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Tip Sheet Tuesday: The Challenges of Foster Care – Grief & Loss

You can’t help but get attached to a child in your care—whether he or she is with you for a few days or a few years. Just like most parents experience some sadness when their kids leave home for college or jobs, foster parents may also grieve when the kids in care leave . . . only the circumstances are often bittersweet and complex.

Grief and LossFoster parent grief isn’t talked about much, but yet it’s cited as one of the most common reasons for not continuing to foster. Months or years of caring for a child who moves can leave a hole in the hearts and lives of foster families.

Sometimes parents also grieve when they cannot bond with a child or cannot meet the needs of a child. Many grieve when they give a 30-day notice (of terminating the placement). The situation is fraught with emotion for all.

Stages of Grief and Loss
There are as many ways to experience loss and express grief as there are people. One cries. Another is stoic. A child becomes defiant. A teen cannot sleep. Others only want to sleep. Some throw themselves into work.
Here are some examples of the stages of grief with some common examples of reactions foster parents may experience.

Denial. Parents may deny an attachment to a child. Some who give a 30-day notice, may deny any feelings of sadness but grieve even though they know that were unable to help. “I won’t miss him. He was so naughty.”

Anger. Parents may blame social services, the system, or some other person for a removal of a child. They focus on issues that are not at the heart of the matter. “It’s the social worker’s fault that Amy went back to her mom.”

(Continue reading on our website.)

Under the Umbrella: Dealing with Lying

Did you ever tell your teacher “the dog ate my homework,” or blame a sibling for something that you did? Lying is something that most (if not all) of us have done at one point in our lives. It is typically nothing to be overly concerned about. However, when children lie excessively, it may need to be addressed.

Children and youth lie for many different reasons. They may want to please an adult by telling them what they think they want to hear. For example, a child may tell his parent that he received an A on a test when, in reality, he did not pass. Other times, lies are told in an attempt to avoid punishment, gain attention, or avoid something that a person doesn’t want to do. Children who have spent time in out-of-home care often have a history that includes abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. If a child was not well cared for as an infant, it can hinder his ability to care about others and develop empathy, thus making it more likely for him to lie, cheat, and/or steal. In addition, some children with a trauma history have learned that lying can make things better; for others, it was the only way to survive. Lies can start small and be innocent; but, over time, youth who lie frequently learn how to do it even better. Once it becomes an adaptive “skill,” it can be difficult to change.

If your child lies frequently, the first step is to try to determine the purpose of the lie. Sometimes, for the child, it’s conscious; whereas other times, he might not understand or be aware of the underlying reason for his behavior. Ask yourself if he could be afraid of how you will react to the truth, or if he is lying because he thinks it is the only way to get his needs met. Next, it is important to address the lie without overreacting. If a child says something that you don’t believe or know to be a lie, try asking, “Is that story real or pretend?” or “That isn’t what I thought happened. Would you like to take some time to think about what happened and tell me again?”. Establish and implement consequences for lying; but keep in mind that frequent and severe punishment can encourage the child to continue to lie in order to protect himself from further retribution.

Your goal should be to teach the child important life skills – such as honesty and trust – while recognizing that this may take time. Do your best to model these skills in order to be a good example for your child. It is difficult to expect your child to tell the truth if you don’t hold yourself accountable to the same standards. Even white lies, such as avoiding a phone conversation by asking someone to relay that you are not available when you are, can teach your child to mimic such behavior.

If you continue to experience problems with lying, consider reaching out to a therapist for additional support. For other suggestions or a listening ear, please know that we are here to support you. You can call the Resource Specialists at the Coalition at 414-475-1246 or toll free at 800-762-8063. You can also reach us via email at info@coalitionforcyf.org.

Under the Umbrella is the weekly enewsletter from the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. If you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter in your in box, please do so here.

Training: Recapturing Calm – Using Mindfulness to De-escalate Crisis Situations Involving Children & Youth

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to the experience.

mindfulness word in wood typeWhen a crisis situation occurs in your home, it can be extremely helpful to know some of the mindfulness skills and techniques that you can use. All children and youth can potentially experience a crisis; however, children and youth who have experienced out-of-home care and the possibility of past traumatic events, may have a greater likelihood of entering into a crisis situation. Handling these situations in a mindful manner can empower parents to remain calm, thus returning their home to an atmosphere of peace more quickly.  Our trainer will provide practical approaches that parents and caregivers can implement to help de-escalate the children and youth in their care while maintaining a calm and collected composure.

 

About the Trainer

Joseph Stanley is a motorcycle-enthusiast who, for a hobby, does youth work. Joseph has been working in the social services field since the 1980’s. After starting at Pathfinders youth shelter in 1986 as a community volunteer, he went on to get a BSW, and then to get a masters in Ed-Psych. Joseph has done pretty much everything at the shelter over the years from House Supervisor to running groups, and for the bulk of his time, he is in the field as a therapist. Joseph is passionate about providing youth with opportunities to help other youth, which he believes is the ultimate way to provide youth the opportunity to achieve mental health and life satisfaction.

Recapturing Calm – Using Mindfulness to De-escalate Crisis Situations Involving Children & Youth
Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 6-8PM
$20/person or $80/agency group
Attend in person at the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families or via webinar
Register online or contact us at info@coalitionforcyf.org or 414-475-1246 (toll free at 800-762-8063)