course »A Child’s Journey to Permanence (Session 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8): Pre-service Training for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Families

Date: 1/9/2016, 9:00 am—2:00 pm
County: Alameda County
CEUs: 4.5
Location: Berkeley
Sponsor: A Better Way, Inc.
Phone: 510-601-0203
Note: Session 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8
Dates: January 9 – 30, 2016

Pre-service Training for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Families:

Session One: Connecting with PRIDE (Parent Resource for Information Development and Education) – Participants learn about the world of family foster care and adoption through the stories of children receiving child welfare services through video “Making a difference” and how families come to the attention of child welfare agencies and how the team of child welfare professionals works together on behalf of the child. They learn how different foster families and adoptive families function as part of that team to provide for the challenging needs of children in their care. Participants also learn how the training series relates to the process of assessing and selecting foster families and adoptive families. They are informed of the certification process. Session one addresses the competencies that successful foster and adoptive families need, as well as, several regular feature s of the PRIDE foster/adopt handbook including: family assessment tools that link classroom learning with life experiences; stories illustrating the rewards of fostering and adopting; additional at home reading and review and; stories/letters from parents to promote understanding of families of children in care.

Session Two: Teamwork toward Permanence: in this session we will address one of the most challenging tasks for foster and adoptive families involving developing an understanding of birth family issues-knowing how to talk with children about their families and being able to support their family relationships. This session lays the foundation for this understanding by first exploring ways in which families support a child’s identity, cultural heritage, and self-esteem. Participants view the video “Family Forever” and video vignettes that demonstrate the skills of “shared Parenting.” This session also addresses the importance/value of permanence in the lives of children, as well as, why team work is presented as the best way to promote permanence for children. Session two explores the unique role of foster and adoptive parents as members of a professional team.

Session Three: Meeting Developmental Needs: Attachment – Participants will be involved in a “guided imagery” to think through the feelings and experiences of a baby’s entry into the world. Participants review some of the basics of growth and development and are asked to consider how important it is for children to form deep and lasting attachments. We explore how abuse, neglect and trauma impact a child’s attachments, development and behavior. Video clips are used to illustrate the different types of child maltreatment that occur and how child’s abuse history/experience may impact children’s ability to form positive attachments. This session concludes with an activity “Developmental Jigsaw puzzle” to demonstrate the importance of understanding the difference between a person’s chronological age and one’s developmental age.

Session Four: Meeting Developmental Needs: Grief and Loss In this session participants experience the overwhelming sense of loss children feel when they are separated from the only family they have known.an how this may hinder growth and development. Participants will address the types of losses children have before they enter family foster care and how placement can deepen the child’s sense of loss. We review the different responses to loss and their impact on the child, with an emphasis on how loss affects the child’s behavior. Loss is presented as something everyone must face. Participants have a chance to consider their own responses to losses in life and they have the opportunity to discuss how they might respond to losses that come with fostering and adopting and how to help children cope with their losses.

Session Five: Strengthening Family Relationships – This session focuses on how families instill identity, cultural heritage, and self-esteem in children. Participants have the opportunity to learn ways to help a child develop positive cultural identity at different developmental stages. The importance of family connections and continuity is also addressed. We review the child welfare goal of returning children in family foster care to their birth families whenever possible. Participants will discuss and consider how the team can support this goal, known as “reunification.” Participants will discuss very practical ways how to plan for visits, how to prepare children for them and how to handle their reactions when the visit ends. The class also views vignettes that illustrate specific skills related to planning and for handling visits.

Session Six: Meeting Developmental Needs – Discipline: This session explores the challenge of discipline. Participants will review and discuss a definition of discipline and its goals, and how discipline is different from punishment. The agency’s policy on discipline will be reviewed and discuss why physical punishment s is not permitted. We review the knowledge, skills and personal qualities adults need to instill discipline, as well as explore the meaning of a child’s behavior and the factors that influence behavior. The session outlines ways foster and adoptive parents can best meet the goal of providing discipline that works. By reviewing video vignettes, participants learn specific discipline skills and their use with different types of children and situations. They also discuss strategies for managing the behavior of children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma. We also focus on the steps to take to manage crisis situations and de-escalate problem behaviors. Session Seven: Continuing Family Relationships – Participants begin with an activity regarding the importance of being connected to lifetime relationships followed by a discussion of a child’s developmental clock as a means to promoting and understanding of permanency timeframes in terms of making decisions that will achieve permanence. Participants learn about concurrent planning as a strategy for achieving permanence. Options for lifetime connections are detailed beginning with efforts to support families and to place children back with birth families or with relatives. Participants review and discuss other options including: adoption, guardianship, and planned alternative placement living arrangement. Group activities in this session focus on identifying the five tasks performed by foster parents toward supporting reunification and adoptive parents need to perform when a child is transitioning form the foster family to the adoptive family.

Session Seven: Continuing Family Relationships – Participants begin with an activity regarding the importance of being connected to lifetime relationships followed by a discussion of a child’s developmental clock as a means to promoting and understanding of permanency timeframes in terms of making decisions that will achieve permanence. Participants learn about concurrent planning as a strategy for achieving permanence. Options for lifetime connections are detailed beginning with efforts to support families and to place children back with birth families or with relatives. Participants review and discuss other options including: adoption, guardianship, and planned alternative placement living arrangement. Group activities in this session focus on identifying the five tasks performed by foster parents toward supporting reunification and adoptive parents need to perform when a child is transitioning form the foster family to the adoptive family.

Session Eight: Planning for Change – in this session participants discuss and address practical ways of what to expect during the first hours, days and weeks of a child’s placement with a family. Participants learn what to ask the placement worker and how to talk to the child. They have the opportunity to explore how placement will impact the family, and particularly their children. We further explore both the immediate and the long-term impact of placement. Vignettes address specific skills in dealing with the impact of fostering and adopting n different family members. Fostering and adopting carry some risks for families, and these are discussed. The group explores ways to create a safe and healing home environment for children who have experienced sexual abuse, and strategies for handling the behaviors of these children. The session ends with a look at how foster families and adoptive families find support from other team members.