World Wide Wednesday – October 30, 2013

174337705It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network recently updated the Resources for Parents and Caregivers section of their website. In this section, parents and caregivers can find definitions of trauma, traumatic events, and traumatic stress; information on understanding trauma, including risk factors for developing child traumatic stress, and signs and symptoms of traumatic stress; as well as suggestions for supporting children in coping with traumatic stress. Advice on where to find help, information on treatments, and links to additional resources are also provided.
  • Caring for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care: This PowerPoint presentation by Tracy Serdjenian, LMSW, Director of Information Services, National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC), provides foundational knowledge about LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) youth, as well as strategies for working with LGBTQ youth in foster care and their birth families and foster families. The section on foundational knowledge addresses the importance of competence in working with LGBTQ youth, affirming language, experiences of LGBTQ youth, and coming out. The second section provides information on LGBTQ youth in foster care, approaches to working with birth families of LGBTQ youth, tips for child welfare professionals, and tips for foster parents. It was presented at the Wisconsin Annual Statewide Foster Care Coordinators Conference in September 2013. During the conference presentation on Caring for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care, several questions and scenarios were raised by session participants. This NRCPFC document summarizes several issues raised and provides relevant information, suggestions, and resources.
  • Connected by 25: A Plan for Investing in the Social, Emotional and Physical Well-Being of Older Youth in Foster Care
  • Teenager Asks for an Adoptive FamilyIn a touching story, a 15-year-old from Florida stood up before a church congregation and asked for a family of his own. Since Davion Only’s public appeal, the church has received many calls from people interested in providing the young man with a home. We truly hope that stories like these will encourage others to step forward and open their homes and hearts to the thousands of other teenagers who also need a family.

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

World Wide Wednesday – October 23, 2013

174337705It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • The Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons – This factsheet for families discusses the impact of adoption on adopted persons who have reached adulthood. There are several themes that emerge from personal accounts and data from academic studies about issues that adopted persons may face. This factsheet addresses these themes, which include loss, the development of identity and self-esteem, interest in genetic information, and managing adoption issues.
  • The Children’s Bureau, AdoptUSKids, and the Child Welfare Information Gateway have launched a special website for National Adoption Month this November. The site contains resources for professionals and parents to recruit families and share information about adoption. Youth resources on the site include information about becoming engaged in their permanency plan and connecting with peers.
  • Check out this newsletter to read 15 tips from a former youth in care.
  • The Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents – This factsheet for families discusses some of the emotional issues that parents may face after making the decision to place an infant for adoption, in surrendering the child, and in handling the feelings that often persist afterwards.

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

World Wide Wednesday – October 16, 2013

174337705It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • The Internet and social media are changing the way adoption occurs throughout the world, yet we know little about the way social media and other elements of this modern technology affect the millions of people for whom adoption is part of everyday life. The Donaldson Adoption Institute has embarked on a new study seeking information from adopted persons, adoptive parents, parents who have placed children for adoption, and adoption professionals about their adoption-related use of the Internet and social media. This research is a follow-up to our 2012 report, Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Transformative Impact on Adoption. To participate in the survey, please click here.
  • This Child Welfare Information Gateway factsheet discusses how foster and adoptive parents can help children and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse. It provides basic information about sexual abuse and links to other information so that parents can education themselves about the topic. The factsheet suggests ways to establish guidelines for safety and privacy in the family, and it offers suggestions about when to seek professional help and where to find such help.
  • The Role of Social Media in Adoption – Smartphones and social media are revolutionizing the ways in which social workers, clients, and prospective parents connect and communicate with one another. Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and YouTube are just some of the outlets changing how expectant parents learn about the option of adoption and seek support.
  • Lifebooks Help Kids Heal, One Page at a Time – Similar to a scrapbook in that it celebrates a child’s life through photos, drawings and memories, a Lifebook goes far beyond that by including journal pages that help a child understand what is often a complicated — and sometimes traumatic — life by guiding the child in exploring his or her thoughts and feelings.

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

Child Development – The School-Age Years

Picture1Just last month, we held the first of a series of three trainings about child development. Next week, we’ll have the second, focusing on school-aged children. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and join us, either in person in Eau Claire or Milwaukee, or via webinar from your home or office.

Understanding how children develop is critical to effective parenting, especially for those who are parenting a child who may have experienced abuse, neglect, or another form of trauma.

“Even though I learned a lot about development in my pursuit of my Social Work degree, by the time I had children in my home those classes seemed like decades ago,” Rachel, the Coalition’s Training Coordinator, shared. “Pair my aging brain with the new chaos every stage of development brings, and I should probably just print out cheat sheets to pin to my kids clothing.”

Joking aside, many parents find it helpful to know the basics of child development. That knowledge can help you observe your kids as they grow, and help you spot any potential red flags early.

“That’s the part that can be hard,” Rachel said. “It is very easy, as a parent, to compare your children to others. It can be difficult to remember that, just because other children are exhibiting a skill, your child is not necessarily behind. As children begin activities in which they socialize more, it is possible they have more adults in their lives completing formal and informal assessments. If another adult alerts me to a behavior, I try to respect their observation, put it into context, and look for it myself. If I see the behavior or lack of milestone accomplishment, I reach out.”

Sometimes being the best parent you can be means getting help.

Whether that help comes from a friend, co-parent, family member, or professional, it is important to get the support you – and your child – need. I hope you’ll join us on Thursday, October 24 for part two of our Child Development series. We’ll focus on the impact of abuse and neglect, as well as separation from primary families, on a child’s development. Our trainer, Toni Chambers, herself a parent of four children who joined her family through birth and adoption, will share parenting tips and strategies. Bring your questions! If you have something specific you would like addressed, please submit your question to Rachel (rgoeden@coalitionforcyf.org) by October 17th so we can be sure to answer it during the session.

World Wide Wednesday – October 9, 2013

174337705It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • “Pacific Rim” got a lot of good buzz when it opened over the summer. Check out what Adoption at the Movies thought.
  • Have questions about IEPs? The National Center for Learning Disabilities has put together the IEP Headquarters for you. Also check out our tip sheet, Fostering a Child with an IEP.
  • Youth in foster care or formerly in foster care represent a vulnerable population with high occurrences of chronic medical conditions and mental health needs. Specifically, the Congressional Research Services reports that between 35 to 60 percent of youth entering foster care have at least one chronic or acute medical condition that requires treatment. In response to the needs and vulnerabilities of this population, regulations in the Affordable Care Act require states to provide, as of January 2014, the full Medicaid benefit to all youth who were in foster care on, or after, their 18th birthday in their state until age 26. Read more here.

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

African American Hair Care

by Rachel G., foster-adoptive mom and Coalition staff Resource Specialist

It wouldn’t have mattered what kind of hair any little girl placed in my home had, I have never been one for styling hair. Some people say I am lucky that I have the hair I do: straight and easy to maintain. Most days all it takes is a quick brushing to look presentable. So when I took placement of African American infant twins, a boy and a girl, I knew the topic of skin and hair care was one I would need information on sooner rather than later. Even though they are twins, my kids always had wildly different hair types. My son’s is wavy and easy to care for, while my daughter’s features tight curls and more fine strands.

Even with the best of intentions, life quickly caught up with me and my family and we were soon more concerned about doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, visits, and meetings than caring for the hair of these babies. The skin seemed easier. We found products that worked and it was easy to add moisturizing into a routine. I still don’t know how hair care –  beyond washing (which has its own nuances) – slipped through the routine cracks. Another factor I never considered was that there are certain types of fabric that can break or badly damage the kind of hair my daughter has.

Fast forward to the kids’ first birthday and my poor daughter is opening presents with a “flat top” type hairstyle. I had done the research. I knew I should have been protecting her hair with silk-lined caps and non-cotton sheets. I knew I just was not consistent. There were other things that, to me, seemed more important, and that is where I was completely wrong.

Thankfully, her hair grew back in time for her adoption at 18 months . . . after much diligence in routine. Little did I know that we had only faced half the battle. Now that she had hair, I had to do something with it. This is where the help of a professional can really come in handy. After some guidance from a local salon, a lot of practice, and a lot more patience, I am more confident and successful in caring for and styling my daughter’s hair. As a spunky four-year-old, she doesn’t always like the process, but she beams with pride (usually) at the end result. When I am tired from a long day or just don’t feel like styling her hair, I just remember how she smiles in the mirror after we are done. And that helps me remember why it is important: it’s all about her self-esteem.

We all want our kids to look – and feel – like superstars. And appearance is part of that feeling. It can be challenging if you Picture1are caring for a child who is of a different race or culture than your own. This week, our Basic African American Hair Care class can help you learn about the history of African American hair care, as well as the importance. The class is only $15 per person – or $60 if you have an agency or group attending. You can come in person to our office in Milwaukee (and be entered to win a door prize!), or attend from your home or office via webinar.

Looking for more resources?

World Wide Wednesday – October 2, 2013

174337705It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • Free book for foster parents. Why did you become a resource parent? Most people would say they wanted to help children and families, or they want to make a difference in a child’s life. One way you can have a big impact on a child is by working with the birth parents to rebuild the family. The role of resource parents includes an expectation to partner with the birth parents of the foster children in their homes. This IFAPA publication will help resource parents gain a better understanding of the importance of positive connections with birth parents and ways resource parents can contribute to the success of these partnerships. This publication will include information on shared parenting and decision making, overcoming challenges, communication skills, Family Team Meetings, family interaction plans and facilitating contact. To request a free booklet, e-mail Crystal at cthomason@ifapa.org or call IFAPA at 800.277.8145 ext. 5
  • The Adoption at the Movies blog takes a look at Planes – Being More Than What You were Built For.
  • Keep in Touch. In this video series for youth, young people share their stories and advice about staying connected to the people and programs that help them.
  • In this post on the Kid Hero blog, Betsy DuKatz writes about giving all kids “moments of so much fun.”

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