World Wide Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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

  • Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): ACEs are serious childhood traumas that result in toxic stress that can harm a child’s brain. This toxic stress may prevent a child from learning, from playing in a healthy way with other children, and can result in long-term health problems. Parenting a Child Exposed to Trauma? This two page flyer is an excellent resource to share with others who have frequent contact with your child.
  • The Dropbox Adoption Movie ReviewWhen a Korean man named Pastor Lee became the father of a boy with severe special needs, he wondered why God had chosen to give him this child, but quickly changed his heart and accepted his son as a gift. Pastor Lee, inspired by his son, saw that within his neighborhood, infants were being left alone and untended, and he came to believe that children with special needs were perhaps more likely to be treated in this way.

    Pastor Lee speculated that these children were being abandoned because their parents feared shame. In an attempt to increase these infants’ chances of survival, the man constructed a system where the infants could be left in a heated, safe place rather than on the street.

  • Considerations for Prospective Foster ParentsThe blog TakePart recently highlighted specific considerations for readers who might be interested in becoming foster parents. Noting that foster parenting can be extremely rewarding, the author also comments on its challenges. Featuring input from experts such as Irene Clements, President of the National Foster Parent Association and foster parent of 27 years, the post addresses the training necessary for becoming a foster parent, financial matters that should be considered by potential parents, and myths about foster parenting. Additional resources also are provided.

  • Adopting through foster care: A less expensive alternativeA private domestic or international adoption can cost tens of thousands of dollars. But Americans wishing to expand their family have another option that costs next to nothing: adopting through foster care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau reports that nearly 400,000 American children were in foster care in 2012, and about a quarter of those were waiting to be adopted.

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

Tip Sheet Tuesday: The Journey of Forgiveness – How to Teach Your Children

Forgiveness is a concept that can be challenging to understand and put into practice, especially for children. Just like you teach most skills, starting early and using repetition are keys to success. Forgiveness is no exception.

When children are able to learn these skills, it will become ingrained within them, which will help them to be able to move forward in life.

Dag Hammarskjold, winner of the Nobel Peace prize and Secretary to the UN wrote, “Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.”

Journey of Forgiveness - Teach Your ChildrenMany adopted and foster children who have been adopted from the foster care system and some orphanages have histories that include being “broken” and “soiled,” as Hammarskold says. Forgiveness gives them the opportunity to look to the future and make “clean” their past.

The facts of their past remain, but their future can still be influenced with opportunities to make positive choices. As parents, you can slowly help them let go and move on.

David Pelzer, author and survivor of one of the worst cases of abuse in California’s history, wrote in his third book A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness that “the answer for all victims of abuse is compassion and forgiveness.”

When we allow our children to live without forgiving others, it affects their physical, psychological, and spiritual lives.

Forgiveness can be simply the decrease in negative thoughts, feelings, and actions toward another. As you continue to talk about and practice forgiveness, there will be a gradual increase to more positive thinking, feeling, and acting which lends to healthier children who become healthier adults.

Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: Forgiving to Heal

Almost everyone has been hurt by the words or actions of another at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the times when we are hurt the deepest are often the result of people we are closest to, because they are the ones we are most vulnerable to. Children and youth in out-of-home care usually suffer some sort of hurt before coming into care. Even if they were too young or do not remember any hurt, they may harbor some resentments based on the simple fact that they are in care. As you may have experienced, walking around with a lot of negative feelings for other people can take a toll on a person; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Forgiveness is not about the other person or people but yourself. The act of letting go of resentments can lead to less forgive concept tell by shy cloud naturestress, healthier relationships, a stronger immune system, and a higher self-esteem. As you can imagine, holding grudges can have the opposite effect on a person, causing some people to be more depressed, angry, and have a harder time connecting with people. At times, it can be hard for children or youth to connect their mental health battles with hurt or resentment. If a child in your home is struggling with positive mental health, it might be worth exploring forgiveness with them.

What can you do to help the child in your home learn about forgiveness? Below are seven tips you might want to consider. These tips are expended on in our Journey of Forgiveness tip sheet:

  • Forgiveness takes practice.
  • Help your kids learn the art of feeling sorry or to feel empathy for others.
  • Validate your children’s feelings.
  • Teach your children to be kind and caring for others.
  • Encourage your children to talk to the person who hurt them.
  • Teach your children that forgiving someone does not mean the hurt goes away.
  • Teach your child these statements that encourage forgiveness. “I will try not to dwell on what you did wrong and instead I’ll try to think good thoughts about you.” “I will try not to bring up the situation simply to use it against you.”
Forgiveness doesn’t come easily for most of us. Some things that have happened to some of our kids seems almost unforgiveable. But if you start by teaching your kids to focus on the smaller things that are more easily forgiveable, you’re well on your way to tackling the bigger things, all in good time. Please know that we are here to help you and the children for whom you care along your journeys. Reach out anytime at 414-475-1246, toll free at 1-800-762-8063, or email us at info@coalitionforcyf.org.

Featured Tip Sheet

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, April 22, 2015

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

  • Is It Adoption, or Is It Life?Five of the country’s top adoption experts discuss adoption therapy and normal childhood development.
  • This edition of Adoption Triad focuses on Spanish resources for adoption. Throughout the years, the adoption field has worked diligently towards providing culturally relevant resources aimed at helping Hispanic families and the professionals who work with them. These Spanish resources can assist professionals with their work in recruiting, retaining, and supporting Spanish-speaking families for children and older youth in foster care who are awaiting adoption.
    1. Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website to find Spanish resources that support professionals in their work with Spanish-speaking families and community members. A list of common child welfare terms translated into Spanish is also available.
    2. AdoptUSKids provides information and resources in Spanish on its website for families looking to find out more about who can adopt, how to adopt, post-adoption resources, and State adoption and foster care information.
    3. Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources to assist professionals with culturally relevant issues they encounter while working with Hispanic families.
  • New Publication Suite for Parents: To help parents and caregivers of children and youth who have experienced maltreatment–from abuse and neglect to sexual abuse or other trauma–the Child Welfare Information Gateway created a series of factsheets for parents explaining how children are affected by maltreatment and how parents can help children recover.

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

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Working with Children Who Have Been Traumatized

As caregivers, we often care for kids who may have experienced the trauma of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and domestic violence.

While experiencing or witnessing physical or sexual abuse is a common source of trauma for children, the emotional turmoil of being removed from their parental home is additionally traumatic and stressful. When we as caregivers, therapists, and school staff have an understanding of the trauma and its effect on learning and processing, children in our care have a better chance to overcome their past.

Working with Children Who Have Been TraumatizedRecognizing Symptoms
Emotional, behavioral, and physical delays may be noted in traumatized children. The brain development is altered, resulting in children having difficulty controlling emotions and behavior.

In reaction to chronic abuse, a hyper-arousal response in the brain may cause persistent stress. Abused and neglected children may become wired to experience the world as an uncaring place. They may recreate the traumatic event or experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent levels of fear

You should contact a mental health professional if your children experience the following symptoms:

  • Flashbacks
  • Episodes of being easily startled
  • Emotional numbness
  • Episodes of a racing heart and sweating (unrelated to exercise)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Finding a therapist that you and your children trust is imperative when working with kids who have PTSD and other trauma—as much for your own sake as for the sake of your children. Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: Wisconsin’s Waiting Children

When children enter foster care, their primary goal for permanency is reunification with a birth parent. When that goal is unattainable (for whatever reason) within a specified time frame, it becomes the state and/or local child welfare agency’s responsibility to look at alternative permanency options. Ideal alternatives to reunification include transfer of guardianship or adoption.

Currently, our Wisconsin Waiting Kids database displays images and profiles for only 19 children and youth who are in need of an adoptive family. This is just a small fraction of the actual number of children in Wisconsin who are waiting to be matched with their forever families.

Photo listing is simply one method social workers across the state use for the purposes of recruitment of families for an individual child. In recent years, photo listing a child on the Wisconsin Waiting Kids page has become under-utilized, as social workers have found success using other means to recruit adoptive families for waiting children. Please keep in mind that, while you may not see all of the children in need of a forever family on our website, others who are waiting share similar hopes of a family and similar obstacles to being matched with one.

In Wisconsin, many waiting children are school aged or older (4 years and older). Some are part of a sibling group and, if that’s the case, child welfare professionals do their best to keep the kids together unless there are extenuating circumstances (often safety related) that do not permit it. In general, a large majority of waiting children have been in foster care for extended periods of time and have experienced some form of abuse, neglect, and/or even abandonment that has left emotional and sometimes even physical scars. Past hurts, trauma, and feelings grief and loss are all things these kids are working to overcome.

Although it may sometimes be hard to detect, these children often have on a suit of armor and are ready for battle-even in the calmest of environments. They are often guarded and may present as “challenging,” for lack of a better word. Nonetheless, every single one of these children still need and share similar wishes to be matched with a permanent family. They wish for a family to belong to and one or more adults who will be committed to them, who will believe in them and accept them as is, and who they can look to for support, love, and guidance.

If you have the patience, perseverance, flexibility and willingness to adapt your home to fit a child’s needs, and are ready to make a lifetime commitment by opening up your heart and your home to a waiting child, we encourage you to continue learning more about adopting from foster care by checking out the links below, visiting our website, and/or contacting us via phone at 1-800-762-8063 or email at info@coalitionforcyf.org. Remember, we are here for you every step of the way.

Featured Tip Sheets

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, April 15, 2015

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

  • Kinship Caregiving – Challenges and Resources: A publication by Generations United discusses the difficulties that kinship caregivers face. One of those difficulties is establishing legal relationships between the caregiver and the child. An absence of that legal relationship adds challenges to kinship care and contributes to the inability to obtain financial assistance, health insurance, affordable housing, etc. Read about children raised by Grandfamilies and Kinship Care, their unique challenges, and what communities can do to support these families.
  • In Foster Care, Treating the Trigger: Research suggests that abuse, abandonment and neglect can change the way a child’s brain develops. Doctors are now treating some of New York City’s most vulnerable children for PTSD.
  • Foster parents must be involved in school to help kids succeed: For children in foster care to succeed in school, foster parents must lead the charge and blaze a path as an advocate, fighting for a child’s every chance. In truth, it is likely that foster students will have no other person fighting for them, since a caseworker’s workload is overwhelming, and teachers may be too busy to reach out with information or may not have the necessary information about a child’s needs.Therefore, it is up to foster parents to be proactive in a child’s life at school. Foster parents need to become as involved as possible. The more active parents are in school and activities, the more likely children will succeed.
  • N.E.W. Mental Health ConnectionA new group in the Fox Valley (WI). A group of individuals and organizations working collaboratively to improve mental health services in Northeast Wisconsin. Primary goals of the group are to:
    • Strengthen 24/7 crisis response, bringing law enforcement, crisis services, emergency departments, and mental health providers together to get people to the right level of care at the time they need it.
    • Implement a “No Wrong Door” system, to ensure that individuals needing help do not get bounced around between agencies or, worse yet, fall through the cracks completely.
    • Support primary care providers, by developing training and support to assist them in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.
    • Support school-based mental health, to strengthen mental health response systems in schools, support connections with service providers, minimize duplication of efforts, and secure adequate funding.

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