For children and teens in kinship or foster care, resource parents are key members of a vital support team to assist children obtaining a permanent home. Other team members include the following…
For children and teens in kinship or foster care, resource parents are key members of a vital support team to assist children obtaining a permanent home. Other team members include the following:
• Children and teens themselves
• Other Family Types
• Their caseworker and other child welfare agency staff or supervisors
• Their guardian ad litem and/or court-appointed special advocate
• The agency’s attorney and other legal staff
• Judges and magistrates
• Community service providers, including health care providers, school teachers, counselors and therapists
• Informal supporters, including grandparents and other relatives or close friends of the primary family
Agencies are required to hold regular meetings throughout the time the child or teen is in care. These meetings allow those involved in the child’s life to make important decisions, review progress and plan for next steps. As a resource parent, you will be invited to attend these meetings. The meetings can have a variety of names, depending on the agency. They often are referred to as one of the following: team meeting, family team meeting, staffing, family group decision-making, semi-annual review, permanency team meeting, or just plain “meeting.”
Because you live with the child or teen, you have essential information about the youth’s functioning and needs that other members of the team need to know. It also can be helpful for you to hear directly from others about their experiences and points of view, so it’s important to attend all team meetings. If you cannot be there in person, ask the agency if arrangements can be made for you to call in by telephone.
It is important that you regularly share information about the child or teen by group or one-on-one meetings with the caseworker, primary family and other service providers. You may be able to provide a written summary of the child’s medical, educational, social and developmental progress while the child lives in your home. This information can be included with the other documentation that is reviewed at team meetings. Remember to follow your agency’s confidentiality policies any time you share information. If you are not sure what you are allowed to share, ask the child’s caseworker.
Be honest in all interactions. Families and children’s lives are involved in this work. It is not a game. Staying honest is always the best tactic.
Work to feel confident in your abilities as an advocate. See yourself as an equal partner with the system professionals. No one person has all the answers. The kinds of information brought to the table may be different but maybe of equal importance.
With the sense of equality comes the knowledge of mutual respect. Every player in the child welfare system is generally doing their best from their point of view. It will be important to understand the other’s point of view.
Express opinions in a positive manner. Negative interactions between families and the system can wear them out. Avoid negative deterioration of discussions. Work to keep the point of view in the positive.
Be prepared by learning the laws that apply to child welfare and the administrative rules that apply to the agency as well as foster and adoptive parents. Advanced knowledge will help in any advocacy role.
Spend time in becoming acquainted with the members of the team and with your local and state leaders. Resource Parents often know the line staff but not the decision makers. Seek opportunity to interact with decision makers. Acknowledging when you see them doing a good job will lay the groundwork for more difficult communication when there are conflicts.