Welcome to Session 8! Planning for Change And Making an Informed Decision Review of the Core Competencies: • • • • • Protecting and Nurturing Children Meeting Children’s Developmental Needs and Addressing Developmental Delays Supporting Relationships Between Children and Their Families Connecting Children to Safe, Nurturing Relationships Intended to Last a Lifetime Working as a Member of a Professional Team What were some of the highlights from our last session? “Parking Lot” Are there any questions from previous sessions that we can answer now? Supplemental Handouts for This Session • Class List • List of Important Phone Numbers/Websites • Evaluation Form Safety and Security for Sexually Abused Children • Identifying child sexual abuse • Helping a child feel safe • Understanding behaviors of children who have been sexually abused Safety and Security for Sexually Abused Children • It is generally not your role to identify when a child has been abused or neglected. The child comes into your home after some form of abuse or neglect has been substantiated. • However, instances of sexual abuse may not be known until the child has entered foster care and begins to develop a sense of safety and trust with the foster parents. Safety and Security for Sexually Abused Children Realizing that sexual abuse is a possibility with any child that may be placed in your home means that you need to take steps and safeguards to ensure their safety and well-being. Indicators of Child Sexual Abuse • Resource 8-E on Pages 292-293 in your PRIDEBook contains a list that may help you identify a child who has been sexually abused. • The indicators with an asterisk beside them are most highly associated with sexual abuse and even one of these indicators would be cause for concern. • It is most often a combination of indicators that leads to a conclusion that a child may have been sexually abused. The presence of one indicator alone (other than above) does not mean that a child has been sexually abused. • If a child reports that he/ she has been sexually abused, you are REQUIRED to make a report to DYFS. Characteristics of a “Healing Home” • Resource 8-F (PRIDEBook p. 294) defines the characteristics of a “Healing Home” • Rules, tasks or activities that promote: – Private space where children can be alone and take care of developmental needs and personal hygiene – Boundaries provide rules and patterns that give children their space – Respectful nurturing to help children build relationships but do not include physical touch ACTIVITY: “Healing Home” • Using the sticky-notes provided, write something you can do in your home to promote boundaries, private space or respectful nurturing • Try to think of something for two different rooms in a home • Stick your notes on the house layout in their respective rooms Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused Children often have intense fears of people, places, things and events associated with the sexual abuse. What might you do in your healing home, when a child who was sexually abused at night refuses to sleep in his/her bed? Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused • Reassure the child that they will be safe in their bed. Remind them of the rule that no one gets into someone else’s bed. • Allow the child to sleep on the floor. • Ask the child where or how they might feel safe sleeping and, if reasonable and allowed by DYFS, allow this to happen. Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused Sexual abuse leads to anger and rage that is quite understandable. However, the child can rarely direct the anger toward the proper target and instead may become angry at those trying to help. What might you do in your healing home when a child deliberately destroys property? Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused • Talk with the child about his or her anger • Address the property damage as a disciplinary issue • Help the child talk about his/ her anger and ways to vent the anger less destructively • If child is in treatment, work with treatment provider to develop strategies Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused Sexually abused children have been exposed to adult forms of sexuality and may engage in sexualized play (alone or with other children), use sexual language or masturbate excessively. What might you do in your healing home when a child begins to masturbate while the family is watching television? Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused • Educate the child about masturbation • Establish a rule that it is only done in private • Discuss this with child’s therapist Behavior Problems of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused You CANNOT ignore the behavior problems of children who have been sexually abused, or the behaviors are likely to get worse. Likewise, punishment is not effective because it lowers the child’s self-esteem. Addressing these behaviors in a consistent, confident and understanding way will help the child build a sense of safety and control. Risk, Confidentiality and the Community • A 14-year-old girl who was sexually abused when she was younger has an unusually high level of sexual knowledge. She has been with your family for three weeks when a neighbor asks if she can baby-sit for her two children, ages 3 and 5. • A 13-year-old boy placed adoptively with you witnessed the murder of his mother when he was only 5. You notice that he is really rough on his younger brother. All the neighborhood kids want to see a movie that you know contains some scenes of violence. The child insists on going because “all the kids are going”. Risk, Confidentiality and the Community As adults, we need to anticipate hazards in our children’s lives and protect them from situations that will require a level of behavior or maturity beyond their abilities. Remember that children who have been abused or neglected may be at one age chronologically, but at a much different age emotionally, socially and sexually. Allegations • Resource parents are sometimes accused of abusing the children in their care. Unfortunately, sometimes this is true. • In many circumstances, the child or another person makes an accusation that is not based on fact. • Knowledge, skills and teamwork are your best preventative tools and your best defense! Allegations A child had been consistently sexually abused by her stepfather over a period of four years. The abuse always began with him pulling her onto his lap and tickling her. He would then pick her up and take her to the bedroom, telling the mom that he was putting her to bed and reading a story. In her bedroom, the child was sexually abused. As a result, when the resource father asks the child if she wants him to read her a story, she becomes hysterical. She then tells the social worker that the resource father tried to hurt her. In her mind, this is true. Allegations A nine-year-old girl who was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend is placed with an adoptive mother who is single. The child tells her teacher that she likes to play “being married.” She says that she learned the game from her mother’s boyfriend. The child gives the teacher a graphic description of sexual intercourse. The teacher doesn’t realize that the child is talking about her situation with her birth mother and reports that this is occurring in her current home. How to Protect Your Family • Be observant. All of the patterns of a child’s abuse may not be known. • Innocent and caring behaviors by the resource parent may be interpreted very differently by the child. • Behaviors that are appropriate with birth children may not be appropriate with children in foster care. • Efforts to protect children may lead teachers, social workers or others to ask questions that may seem intrusive and make you feel uncomfortable. This material has been kind of scary and difficult to digest, so let’s take a quick break… Imagine … Your son, who is away at college, calls you to say that he is in love and has just become engaged to the wonderful young woman he started dating three months ago. You are happy your son is so in love, but you have a lot of questions. What would you want to know? You may want to know… • • • • • • How did they meet? Where is she from? What kind of family does she come from? Why are you doing this so soon? How will you afford this? Is there something else you want to tell me? As adults and parents you know that… • Marriage is a big decision • It is a lifetime change • Even though you’ve never met this girl, you already have feelings about her • You may want to save your son and family any future heartaches As Resource Parents, You Know… • Children in out-of-home placement have experienced tragedies of abuse/neglect and experienced loss and multiple placements • That these children should not be subjected to any more disruptions and your decision to become a resource parent is critical • You can’t say, “Well, let’s give this a try”… you need to be ready to make a commitment Areas To Explore Prior To Placement • • • • • • • • Physical health Emotional health Developmental issues Education Abuse/neglect and placement Daily life/cultural issues Parental/sibling situation Legal status/permanent plan Physical Health • • • • • General condition Specific health problems Medications Allergies Pediatrician’s name and location Emotional Health • • • • • • Overall functioning Mental health diagnosis/medications Coping style Behavioral challenges What’s worked and not worked in past Child’s therapist/services currently in place for the child Developmental Issues • Advances or delays (special needs or disabilities) • Sexual development • Behavioral concerns • Discipline issues Education • • • • • • Where child will attend school Past attendance record Grades Status of Individual Education Plan (IEP) History of in-school behavioral problems Special help or assistance needed Abuse/Neglect and Placement • • • • • • • • Nature of the abuse or neglect Perpetrator When and where it occurred How child is handling what has happened Impact of abuse on child Specific services in place to address abuse Prior instances of abuse History of any prior placements Daily life/ cultural issues • • • • • • • • • Child’s activities or hobbies Favorite foods Daily schedule or routines Grooming Special hair or skin care Need for clothing or other personal items Native language Religious practices Cultural needs Parental/Sibling Situation • • • • Child’s reaction to separation Family members involved Visiting plan and schedule Degree family is cooperating with services Legal Status/Permanent Plan • Type of custody (usually legal custody through court-ordered placement) • Child’s permanent plan • Next court date • Contact information for child’s law guardian • Special legal problems (juvenile delinquency, truancy, probation) Getting Ready for Annie to Arrive Uncertainty … It Comes with the Territory • As resource parents, you need to be comfortable with a certain degree of uncertainty • All of the information you want will rarely be available when you want it • Children coming into care for emergency reasons usually come with little information • It may be up to you to find out the missing information The Past is an Ingredient of the Present, But Not a Recipe for Future Behavior • Changes in a child’s environment can result in new behaviors • Example: A child who has never been aggressive may start acting aggressively toward other children in your family Thinking Ahead • Resource families need to think about their strengths and needs, and their willingness to deal with different or unexpected situations • If you feel that your family could not deal with a child who may have been sexually abused, you need to consider whether fostering or adopting is right for your family • DYFS cannot guarantee that a child placed with you has not been sexually abused Getting Ready for Annie to Arrive Confidentiality • DYFS will share with you only what you need to know to care for the child • You are NOT to discuss the details of a child’s case with anyone who does not have a need to know • DYFS will respect your anonymity from the birth family • You cannot consent to public disclosure of a child’s personal information Preparing for a Child’s Placement What YOU May Need To Do … • Inform the school • Inform medical/dental providers • Inform extended family, friends and neighbors (as appropriate) • Have some basic supplies ready to meet the developmental needs of the child you are expecting to be placed with you • Understand the expectations of your employer Routines • We can reduce much of life down to routines • Routines are not inherently good or bad, but different people will have different routines • Routines can be a part of culture • Routines become accepted by families and save them from endless negotiations about how to run life on a day-to-day basis Change • Change can be difficult and may disrupt our normal, regular ways of doing things • Bringing a child into your family will almost certainly bring about change • Some changes will be immediate while others will occur over time. Some Changes That Are Likely To Occur Immediately • • • • • • • Less privacy Routines disrupted Communication patterns Schedules Personal space Family rules Less free time Activity: PRIDEBook Resource 8-D • 5AM to 9AM • 3PM to 7PM • 7PM to 11PM • Identify routines/tasks before placement • Identify how routines/tasks may change after placement Some Changes That Are Likely To Occur Over Time • Relationships among family members, communication, decision making, problem solving • Some of these changes will be positive while others may be negative Strategies for Responding to Changes Within the Family • Set up family meetings to discuss changes, rules and family roles and expectations • Make time for marital relationship • Nurture relationships with birth children • Include entire family in decision making • Establish clear household rules/expectations • Model positive attitude in responding to change • Take care of personal needs, including medical, fitness and emotional needs Changes Over Time • The family system and the outside world (remember before/after Ecomaps) • Relationships with your friends (this includes making new friends) • Relationships with your extended family • Existing relationships with the school, your church, or other organizations • Your family’s privacy (likely to be compromised) Strategies For Handling These Changes • Speak with extended family and friends about your decision to become resource parents; take the opportunity to educate them • Be more conscious of time management • Seek to build on your existing relationships with community resources such as your church or local school • Explore your need for family privacy and modify family routines to ensure everyone’s privacy What Routines, Traditions and Patterns of Behavior With Your Family … … could you change to accommodate a new child? … might a new child find unusual or hard to get used to? … would you be willing to modify? Consider the Following When a Child Placed Seems to Have Trouble Adjusting • Does the child’s routine, tradition or pattern of behavior offer comfort to the child? • Is the child’s routine, tradition or pattern harmful or dangerous to the child or others? • Does the child’s routine, tradition or pattern need to change now or can there be time to adjust? • Is there someone who knows the child’s background who could provide you with helpful information? TRANSITION = STRESS Transitions are especially stressful for children who are entering care because there may not be much time to assist them with the transition. When a child is placed in your home, you can work with the team to help ensure that future transitions are adequately planned and the child is prepared! Ways to support transitions and minimize risk of disruptions • • • • • • Recognize that change takes time Respect child’s history Learn child’s routine, traditions, patterns Don’t place a lot of demands on child Help the child to be comfortable Help the child to understand expectations, rules and how things operate Ways to support transitions and minimize risk of disruptions • Acknowledge positive experiences the child may have had in prior placements (Lifebook) • Make immediate changes only to the routines, traditions and patterns that threaten the safety of the child or others • Make a plan that involves your entire family in the change process Conflicting Emotions A child who will be placed with you may not think of “home” as a comfortable and safe place where people are supportive. When confronted with becoming part of your family, the child may become confused, fearful or even want to run away. Examples of Behaviors That Children With Conflicting Feelings May Exhibit • 13-year-old Robert is screaming with joy when riding bikes with his new brothers. The next day he says he can’t ride a bike and it’s stupid for 13year-olds to ride bikes anyway. • You give 8-year-old Tonya a hug to reassure her that you know how hard she is trying in school. She pulls away and runs into her room. An hour later, she is hanging onto you while you try to fix dinner. Remember that a child’s feelings and resulting behaviors can surface after months, or even years of being placed with you! Creating new traditions… • Some resource families create special traditions as ways to help children transition home or to other families • You may want to think about how you can build these traditions into your family as a way to help children transition and to help you and your family say goodbye. Saying Goodbye to Annie Fantasies of Children in Transition When transitioning between families, children sometimes get confused about their past and may make up stories about their family life experiences • A young boy fantasizes about a friend who never yells at him and always wants to play • A three year old believes that her stuffed bear talks to her and she tells you that “Snuggles” told her to draw on the wall with crayons • The youngest child imagines a younger sibling who will listen to what “big brother’ says More Examples of Fantasies • Mom wouldn’t hit us if her boss wasn’t so hard on her. • Mom really loves me. She just can’t visit because it’s too far away. • Dad wants me to live with him starting next month and he’s buying me a bike. Fantasies of Adopted Children Children who have been adopted sometimes create phantom birth families that possess none of the qualities that the child may dislike in the adoptive family. • My real mother is a rich lady who would give me new clothes and never punish me! Fantasies of Resource Parents • Children are not the only ones who have fantasy families. Sometimes resource parents also have “fantasy” children pictured in their minds. • How could holding onto a fantasy child interfere with your ability to meet the needs of a real child? It Could Interfere Because … • You may not be able to identify the child’s real needs • You may have unrealistic expectations of the child and their behaviors • You may feel disappointed and angry when the “real” child exhibits behavioral problems or does not live up to your expectations Making an Informed Decision We do not want to frighten you unnecessarily as prospective or current resource parents, but we do have to be realistic about the risks involved and the supports you may need. Being prepared for the worst behaviors our children may exhibit will ensure the best possible chance that placements will succeed and that you and the children will be SAFE. Choco was a little bird, who lived all alone. He wished he had a mother, but who could his mother be? One day, he set off to find her. First Choco met Mrs. Giraffe. “Oh, Mrs. Giraffe!” he cried. “You are yellow just like me! Are you my mother?” “I’m sorry,” sighed Mrs. Giraffe. “But I don’t have wings like you.” Next Choco met Mrs. Penguin. “Oh, Mrs. Penguin!” he cried. “You have wings just like me! Are you my mother?” “I’m sorry,” sighed Mrs. Penguin. “But I don’t have big, round cheeks like you.” Then Choco met Mrs. Walrus. “Oh, Mrs. Walrus!” he cried. “You have big, round cheeks like me! Are you my mother?” “Now look,” grumped Mrs. Walrus. “I don’t have striped feet like you, so don’t bother me!” No matter where Choco searched, he couldn’t find a mother who looked just like him. When Choco saw Mrs. Bear picking apples, he knew she couldn’t be his mother. Mrs. Bear didn’t look like him at all. Choco was so sad he started to cry. “Mommy, mommy! I need a mommy!” Mrs. Bear came running to see what was the matter. As she listened to Choco’s story, she sighed. “Oh, dear. If you had a mommy, what would she do?” “Oh, I’m sure she would hold me,” sobbed Choco. “Like this?” asked Mrs. Bear. And she held Choco very tight. “Yes … and I’m sure she would kiss me, too!” said Choco. “Like this?” asked Mrs. Bear. And she lifted Choco and gave him a big kiss. Yes, and I’m sure she would sing and dance with me to cheer me up,” said Choco. “Like this?” asked Mrs. Bear. And they sang and danced together. When they stopped to rest, Mrs. Bear turned to Choco and said, “Choco, maybe I could be your mother.” “You?” Choco cried. “But you aren’t yellow. And you don’t have wings, or big, round cheeks, or striped feet like me!” “My goodness!” said Mrs. Bear. “That would make me look very funny!” Choco thought it was funny, too. “Well,” said Mrs. Bear, “my other children are waiting for me at home. Why don’t you join us for apple pie, Choco?” Apple pie sounded wonderful to Choco, so off they went. When they arrived, Mrs. Bear’s other children rushed out to greet her. “Choco,” said Mrs. Bear. “Meet Hippy, Ally, and Piggy. I am their mother, too!” The sweet smell of apple pie and the sound of laughter soon filled Mrs. Bear’s home. After their delicious treat, Mrs. Bear gave all her children a big, warm bear hug. And Choco was very happy that his new mommy looked just the way she did. CONGRATULATIONS! You have completed your PRIDE training!