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Transcending Differences in Placement

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Transcending Differences in Placement

  1. 1. Transcending Differences in Placement HOUSE OF NEW HOPE PRE-SERVICE MODULE 7 (3 HOURS) 1
  2. 2. You Don’t Know Their Journey 5’30” 2
  3. 3. Video Discussion  “What does this video tell you about this child?”  Some things that influence our identity are visible and some are invisible.  Everyone is unique with their own identities and life experiences.  Some people may look alike but have very different life experiences and attributes.  Some people may look very different but have very similar life experiences and attributes.  It is not very accurate to judge a person based on appearance or assumptions.  It is only after the person has shared who they are that one will know who they are. 3
  4. 4. Understand Me -Adreanna, age 18 From: My Voice, My Life, My Future What’s beneath the clothes, the hair, the smile? Look deep inside to find me. The lost and lonely girl inside, That hides deep inside me. Please don’t judge me for what you see. ‘Cause I don’t look and act like you remember, I can only be me. Look closer, pay attention. Forget about the fake smile you see. Can you see what lies inside of me? The girl with a big heart, The loving one that constantly gets hurt So please don’t judge me by my looks. Take a step closer. Can you understand my twisted mind? Can you find the real me? I hide so quickly. 4
  5. 5. Poem Discussion  “What does this poem tell you about this foster child?” 5
  6. 6. What’s wrong with making assumptions about others? 1. What did he assume from her appearance? 2. Was there anything wrong with asking, “Where are you from, your English is perfect?” 3. How about when he continued to pry into her ancestry? 4. If there were a real need to pry into her personal information, what would have been a more sensitive way to ask her about her ancestry? 2’ 6
  7. 7. You will be able to:  Explain how flexibility and cultural humility in caregiving and adoptive parenting contributes to respecting differences  Identify ways a family can help a child feel welcomed and respected for who they are  Identify ways a child who looks like the caregiver or adoptive family can still be different from that caregiver or family  Explain how a foster and kinship caregiver or adoptive parent can help prepare their home and community for a new child  Understand issues related to racism, stereotypes and prejudices  Explain MEPA… the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act 7
  8. 8. Values… what matter most in your life 5’30” 8
  9. 9. How are values learned?  Teaching values through pronouncements, rules, and warnings: ”Do your homework,” “Don’t take that it’s not yours,” “It is wrong to hit a girl.”  Teaching values through examples and models: Reading or watching stories with positive heroes. Observing our parents’ choices and behaviors time and time again.  Teaching values through stories with morals or lessons: A story is told with a lesson embedded in it. Typically, the stories show how to behave or how not to obey in situations where a decision has to be made…. The Bible or fables.  Teaching values through examining personal actions of self and others: assisting children to examine more carefully the occurrences of everyday life, how they acted and felt in particular situations, the reasons behind these feelings, and healthier alternatives.  Teaching values through problem solving: Your dog and a stranger are both drowning. Who will you save? Why? 9
  10. 10. Values are the building blocks of identity & behavior Attitudes Beliefs Values What we have learned to be most important in our lives. What we think is true. The way you express yourself in thoughts, words and actions (decision-making and rules) because of your values and beliefs. 10
  11. 11.  Values drive family rules.  Children placed in care will come with values and rules learned in their own homes.  Because family rules are a reflection of family values, it can feel challenging when the family rules are questioned by a new child or his family. Discussion: What values, beliefs and attitudes might you hold if you were raised in a single-parent family where your mother insisted that you “fend for yourself” in order to be tough and survive the neighborhood, rarely ate as a family, got yourself off to school when you felt like it, and watched your mother steal electronics to pay for her drug addiction? 11 Values are the building blocks of identity & behavior
  12. 12. Flexibility is a foster caregiver virtue Discussion:  What house rules do you flex to make guests feel welcomed?  Example: When guests come to watch the Super Bowl at our home, we eat while we watch TV in the family room, rather than sit at the dining room table. • Just as people adapt their family rules from childhood to work in their adult life and flex rules for guests, foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents must be prepared to flex some of their rules for the children placed in their home in order to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming living space for them. • This also sends the message that the foster or kinship caregiver or adoptive parent both acknowledges and appreciates the diversity of the child. 12
  13. 13. What is the connection between cultural humility and self-esteem?  Cultural humility is a humble and respectful attitude toward individuals of other cultures that pushes one to challenge their own cultural biases, realize they cannot possibly know everything about other cultures, and approach learning about other cultures as a lifelong goal and process.  This includes the child’s values, beliefs and attitudes. Discussion: What impact does your acceptance or non-acceptance of a child’s culture have on their self-esteem? 13
  14. 14. Racism Experiment 14 5’15”
  15. 15. Putting up with racism  Unfortunately, racism is still one of those things that people have to put up with. This is not something that should still be going on, nor should it have ever happened at any point in history. However, the truth is that it can and does happen. Worse yet, when it happens to children, it can bring up a lot of hurtful questions that parents have to be ready to answer.  Children might experience racism because they live in a family that is different from what people often consider to be the standard, or traditional family. This is true of some children who have parents from mixed races and it even happens to children of a different race who are adopted.  The point is, parents have to be ready to teach their children how to deal with this type of treatment so their lives are not negatively impacted well into adulthood as a direct result of it. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds, as it can leave long and lasting scars on children.  The best thing that parents can do is teach them how to love who they are and be fully accepting of themselves and everyone else, realizing that those who taunt them simply don’t take the time or the effort to understand that people should never be treated that way. 15
  16. 16.  Some children are affected by racism when they are not the target of it themselves.  For some individuals, just seeing another person being treated in that way can cause them to bring up a lot of very mature questions that a child might be asking long before they are old enough to understand the answers. After all, how are you supposed to explain why some people are racist and expect a child to understand when adults can’t begin to understand it themselves?  The best thing you can do is teach children to stand up for themselves and for others with an attitude that is always loving, even in the face of some situations where this might be a challenge. By doing so, you are teaching your children to be the best they can possibly be, regardless of what anyone else says or does. 16 Putting up with racism
  17. 17. Stereotypes and Prejudices  The ability to distinguish friend from foe helped early humans survive, and the ability to quickly and automatically categorize people is a fundamental quality of the human mind.  Categories give order to life, and every day, we group other people into categories based on social and other characteristics.  This is the foundation of stereotypes, prejudice and, ultimately, discrimination. 17
  18. 18. Definition of Terms  A stereotype is an exaggerated belief, image or distorted truth about a person or group — a generalization that allows for little or no individual differences or social variation. Stereotypes are based on images in mass media, or reputations passed on by parents, peers and other members of society. Stereotypes can be positive or negative.  A prejudice is an opinion, prejudgment or attitude about a group or its individual members. A prejudice can be positive, but in our usage refers to a negative attitude.  Prejudices are often accompanied by ignorance, fear or hatred. Prejudices are formed by a complex psychological process that begins with attachment to a close circle of acquaintances or an "in- group" such as a family. Prejudice is often aimed at "out-groups."  Discrimination is behavior that treats people unequally because of their group memberships. Discriminatory behavior, ranging from slights to hate crimes, often begins with negative stereotypes and prejudices. 18
  19. 19. How do we learn prejudice?  Social scientists believe children begin to acquire prejudices and stereotypes as toddlers. Many studies have shown that as early as age 3, children pick up terms of racial prejudice without really understanding their significance.  Soon, they begin to form attachments to their own group and develop negative attitudes about other racial or ethnic groups, or the "out-group".  Early in life, most children acquire a full set of biases that can be observed in verbal slurs, ethnic jokes and acts of discrimination. 19
  20. 20. How are our biases are reinforced?  Once learned, stereotypes and prejudices resist change, even when evidence fails to support them or points to the contrary.  People will embrace anecdotes that reinforce their biases, but disregard experience that contradicts them. The statement "Some of my best friends are _____" captures this tendency to allow some exceptions without changing our bias. 20
  21. 21. How do we perpetuate bias?  Bias is perpetuated by conformity with in-group attitudes and socialization by the culture at large. The fact that white culture is dominant in America may explain why people of color often do not show a strong bias favoring their own ethnic group.  Mass media routinely take advantage of stereotypes as shorthand to paint a mood, scene or character.  The elderly, for example, are routinely portrayed as being frail and forgetful, while younger people are often shown as vibrant and able.  Stereotypes can also be conveyed by omission in popular culture, as when TV shows present an all-white world. Psychologists theorize bias conveyed by the media helps to explain why children can adopt hidden prejudices even when their family environments explicitly oppose them. 21
  22. 22. The effects of prejudice and stereotypes  Despite 30 years of equal-rights legislation, levels of poverty, education and success vary widely across races. Discrimination continues in housing and real estate sales, and racial profiling is a common practice, even among ordinary citizens.  Members of minorities continue to report humiliating treatment by store clerks, co-workers and police. While an African American man may dine in a fine restaurant anywhere in America, it can be embarrassing for him to attempt to flag down a taxi after that dinner.  Studies indicate that African American teenagers are aware they are stigmatized as being intellectually inferior and that they go to school bearing what psychologist Claude Steele has called a "burden of suspicion." Such a burden can affect their attitudes and achievement.  These shadows hang over stigmatized people no matter their status or accomplishments. They must remain on guard and bear an additional burden that may affect their self-confidence, performance and aspirations. These stigmas have the potential to rob them of their individuality and debilitate their attempts to break out of stereotypical roles. 22
  23. 23. Learned at an early age  The first step may be to admit biases are learned early and are counter to our commitment to just treatment. Parents, teachers, faith leaders and other community leaders can help children question their values and beliefs and point out subtle stereotypes used by peers and in the media. Children should also be surrounded by cues that equality matters.  In his classic book, The Nature of Prejudice, the psychologist Gordon Allport observed children are more likely to grow up tolerant if they live in a home that is supportive and loving. "They feel welcome, accepted, loved, no matter what they do."  In such an environment, different views are welcomed, punishment is not harsh or capricious, and these children generally think of people positively and carry a sense of goodwill and even affection. 23
  24. 24. Exercise  Draw this on a piece of paper…. African American Native American Latino American European or White American Asian American or Pacific Islander Multi- Racial American • I will be asking you to complete a series of sentences. • You should complete each sentence in a way that best describes your own personal situation, by placing one checkmark in the square with the appropriate description. • If one question just doesn't apply to you, skip it and wait for the next sentence. • There is absolutely no right or wrong response. 24
  25. 25. 1. I am _______ 2. My immediate family is predominately ________ 3. Most of my co-workers are ____________ 4. My supervisor is ______________ 5. If I choose to worship, the people I worship with are predominantly ________________ 6. My high school was predominantly ____________ 7. My teachers were primarily ________________ 8. My close friends are mainly ________________ 9. My dentist is _______________ 10. My family doctor is _________________ 11. My spouse/partner is __________________ 12. My neighborhood is predominantly __________ 13. Musicians I listen to are mostly _______________ 14. The actors in my favorite movies are mostly ___ 15. The TV shows I prefer contain actors who are mostly ________________ 25
  26. 26. Discussion  Where are most of your check marks?  How do you feel about the diversity or lack of diversity of your check marks?  Why do you think that you have or don’t have equal amounts of check marks in all of your boxes?  Is there a value of having diversity among your check marks?  How do you get your results to look different for the next time? 26
  27. 27. A few last questions…  Place a check mark in the box that represents the child or children you plan to adopt or foster.  Does this check mark look uncomfortable in your table of check marks?  Does your table need to change before the child check mark looks comfortable in your home and family? 27
  28. 28. A Look at Race Relations Through the Eyes of Children 9’30” 28
  29. 29. Dealing with Racism and Discrimination  Incidents of racism and discrimination are more likely to occur where children of color are in the minority, in either the school setting or the community.  Helping children to have multi-cultural and multi-racial experiences through church groups, recreation or education may reduce these instances, or at least allow the child to find support within the environment.  Foster and Adoptive parents must develop a level of comfort in addressing issues of racism and discrimination.  This would include acknowledging that this may have actually occurred by eliciting and listening to the child’s reactions and feelings about the incident, and affirming the child’s feelings of anger, hurt, confusion or disappointment. 29
  30. 30.  Maintain an open and ongoing dialogue about racism and discrimination in the child’s environment.  The child must feel permitted and empowered to discuss these issues with someone the child perceives to understand the nature and impact of discrimination.  You probably already know whether your family and community will be tolerant of your foster child. 30 Dealing with Racism and Discrimination
  31. 31. Know your strengths and limitations  Caregivers and adoptive families need to give careful consideration to their openness to diversity as they complete the Child Characteristic Checklist, a form that lets the agency know to which characteristics a caregiving or adoptive family is open.  It is in the best interest of the child for the family to be honest with themselves and the agency when determining their parameters. 31
  32. 32. MEPA • The use of racial matching in foster care and adoption placement practices is based on the idea that children placed in homes that are ethnically or racially different from their genetic heritage will be at risk of losing their own racial identity. • The fear of psychological and social consequences resulting from transracial placements has led to strong opposition of transracial adoption from some minority groups and some child welfare professional organizations and individuals. • From another perspective, delaying permanent placements for children due to policies of “racial matching” can be considered unethical, and raises questions regarding a child’s need to bond with caregivers and the social and psychological ramifications of attachment. • The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) was enacted in 1994 and was presented as a solution to the longstanding debates about transracial adoption, same-race placements, “best interests of the child”, and expedited permanency for children. 32
  33. 33. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Guide to the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 As Amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996, the “specific intentions of MEPA are to:  Decrease the length of time that children wait to be adopted,  Facilitate the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents who can meet the distinctive needs of children awaiting placement, and  Eliminate discrimination on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the child or the prospective parent. 33 MEPA
  34. 34. To achieve these goals, MEPA has three basic mandates:  It prohibits states and other entities that are involved in foster care or adoption placements from delaying or denying a child’s foster care or adoptive placement on the basis of the child’s or the prospective parent’s race, color, or national origin;  It prohibits these states and entities from denying to any individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent on the basis of the prospective parent’s or the child’s race, color, or national origin; and  It requires that, to remain eligible for federal assistance for their child welfare programs, states must diligently recruit foster and adoptive parents who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the children in the state who need foster and adoptive homes. 34 MEPA
  35. 35. Importance of Preparing Your Home  All children coming into care have been affected by trauma and loss; they require acceptance and understanding. It is important that the family the child is placed with is welcoming to all differences, including race, ethnicity, disability, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. This will help ensure that they feel safe and receive the support to grow into healthy adults.  Every child who comes into care comes with his unique family background, belief systems, habits and practices.  All of these factors will play a major role in the set of assumptions the child brings to the home about how a family and household “should” or “should not” be run.  These expectations will also impact how that child perceives his new home (with its own background, traditions, and expectations) and how welcomed, safe, and included he feels. 35
  36. 36.  In order for the child to feel safe, he needs to understand what is expected of him as a new family member. He also needs to know where the family is willing to flex in order to be respectful of his diversity.  By the same token, based on their background, culture, and experiences, all foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents have their own standards of “family life” and what to expect of household members.  Many of these expectations may run counter to what the child has experienced. It will take careful thinking on the part of the caregiver or adoptive parent to determine how to respond to differences in a way that both honors the integrity of the family system and affirms the diversity of the child and his primary family. 36 Importance of Preparing Your Home
  37. 37.  While foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents must exercise flexibility, they must also give thoughtful consideration to what the “non-negotiable rules” are in their home and how they may help the children placed in their home adapt to those rules.  Some of those rules have already been determined by the licensing agency as “non-negotiable,” for foster and kinship caregivers and they are legally bound to abide by those rules. Adoptive parents who have not yet finalized their adoption need to abide by agency rules as well.  Non-negotiable rules need to be presented in a respectful, creative, and nonjudgmental way. Failure to give diversity careful consideration may seriously threaten the ability of the child to develop a healthy personal and cultural identity and feel fully embraced by the family. 37 Importance of Preparing Your Home
  38. 38. Cultural acceptance grows self-esteem  In general, the more a child or youth values his/her cultural and racial roots, the higher the child’s self-esteem.  The higher our self-esteem, the better equipped we are to cope with troubles that arise in our personal lives or in our careers, the quicker we are to pick ourselves up after a fall and the more energy we have to begin anew.  The higher our self-esteem, the more ambitious we tend to be, not necessarily in a career or financial sense, but in terms of what we hope to experience in life – emotionally, intellectually, creatively and spiritually.  The higher our self-esteem, the more likely we are to form nourishing rather than toxic relationships. What are some ways that you can demonstrate cultural acceptance in your home and family? 38
  39. 39. Some additional ideas….  Living in a neighborhood which includes families of the child’s culture.  Attendance at a school where the child interacts with persons of his/her own culture.  Seeking out cultural “consultants” who can interact with the child and introduce the family to cultural events relevant to the child’s culture… even if that means traveling out of your community.  Celebrating holidays or events relevant to the child’s culture.  Visiting the library/computer to ensure that the child has information about his/her cultural heritage.  Visitation with the primary and extended family.  Introducing cultural relevant food items into your family’s diets.  Attendance at a church of the child’s culture.  Watching movies with characters/actors of the child’s culture.  Prominently display pictures, posters or artifacts that are culturally relevant to your child around the home. 39
  40. 40. Preparing Your Home – Entry Way – Welcoming of a New Child This is the space of first impressions, that initial period when a child decides whether or not he is welcomed, safe, and totally accepted into the home. Questions: 1. A sense of safety is very important for a child coming into a new home. What kinds of things can you do to help a new child feel safe? 2. How will a child know you respect him and his uniqueness? 40
  41. 41.  Children are carrying into the home an invisible suitcase full of their fears, grief, and anger. They are paying careful attention to how they are being perceived, and how willing the foster and kinship caregivers or adoptive parents are to respect and care for them in spite of their “otherness.” The child needs to understand that the foster caregivers or adoptive parents love and respect him as much for the differences as for the similarities.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should take time to allow trust to build and develop a relationship with the child without the influence of preconceptions. 41 Preparing Your Home – Entry Way – Welcoming of a New Child
  42. 42.  Assumptions should not be made based on:  The child’s racial, ethnic, or other group memberships  What is written in the child’s paperwork  The child’s initial behavior  The child needs opportunities to reveal, explore, and discover the parts that make up his identity. This requires caregivers and adoptive parents to be present, patient, genuinely interested, and willing to listen. They should not push the child to share, but follow the child’s lead. 42 Preparing Your Home – Entry Way – Welcoming of a New Child
  43. 43.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should come to an agreement with the child about what names should be used for the child and family members in both private and public settings.  Honoring a child’s preference on what to be called and how to pronounce his name is vitally important. From the child’s perspective, it signals acceptance of who he is, personally and culturally. Caregivers and adoptive parents should not take the liberty of calling the child what is easier or more convenient; they need to make the effort to learn how to correctly pronounce the name of the child.  The child should not be identified as a “foster child” or “adoptive child” when being introduced. Ask the child how they would like to be introduced. Most will be comfortable with “my child.”  Some children will be okay with using terms such as mom to address the foster caregiver or adoptive parent, while others may prefer a term such as “Auntie.” This term may change over time as the child feels more a part of the family. Ask the child what he prefers. 43 Preparing Your Home – Entry Way – Welcoming of a New Child
  44. 44.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should be open to, and affirming of, the child’s primary family relationships and other important relationships.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a child’s removal, that child’s primary family is likely to be an extension of his identity. Therefore, it is critical for foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents to keep the door open for positive relations, not only between the primary family members and the child, but between the primary family and themselves.  Cultivating and maintaining a positive connection with the primary family also makes it easier for caregivers and adoptive parents to get input from the primary family regarding their culture, including that family’s preferences for their child’s care and upbringing, which needs to be honored wherever possible.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should likewise be aware and honor any significant connections that that child might have with non-blood kin and other important persons in the child’s life. 44 Preparing Your Home – Entry Way – Welcoming of a New Child
  45. 45.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should ensure they do not show any status differentiation between the child and other family members.  Some children placed in care or adopted report feeling treated like “second class citizens” in their new family, for example being granted less privileges and more “grunt work” than the biological children. All children in the home deserve the same level of love, regard, and treatment.  It is critical for families to demonstrate pride in who that child is and what he brings to the family unit.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should make room in their home for whatever is representative of that child’s visible or invisible identity.  All children need access to readings, photographs, items, traditions, and people that positively represent and celebrate people with whom the child can identify. 45 Preparing Your Home – Entry Way – Welcoming of a New Child
  46. 46. Preparing Your Home – Family Room – Where Everyone is Included This is the space where each household member contributes to the functioning of the family system and where the family works out the most important household rules. It is also where the family members figure out how to relate to each other and the outside world as a growing and evolving multicultural family. Questions: 1. What are some areas of family life for which rules and expectations must be set? 2. What are some of your current family rules? Which one of these would you have the most difficulty changing in order to honor the diversity of a child? 46
  47. 47.  Families should embrace values that promote a sense of well-being among family members, individually and collectively. Examples include:  Everybody matters  People come first  Honesty  Integrity  Respecting diversity  Sticking together 47 Preparing Your Home – Family Room – Where Everyone is Included
  48. 48.  Families may develop specific statements or rules that set expectations such as:  Everyone sits at the dinner table  Everyone contributes to the household chores  Everyone stays in school until they complete a degree  Families who are successful multicultural families:  Make their home a place where every family member’s ideas and differences are respected  Live out the belief that everyone’s uniqueness should be respected  Create an environment that values and reflects diversity  Stand up against racism, discrimination, and ignorance about others 48 Preparing Your Home – Family Room – Where Everyone is Included
  49. 49.  Families should have both mandatory and optional “together time” for:  Enjoying and getting to know each other  Creating opportunities for members to voice their opinions, establish what’s important to them, and identify who they are  Families need to decide which rules are non-negotiable and which ones they will be able to flex to take the background and diversity of the child and primary family into account. 49 Preparing Your Home – Family Room – Where Everyone is Included
  50. 50.  Examples of rules and responsibilities include:  What things need permission  What’s expected, what’s okay, and what’s not okay regarding:  Schedules  School work  Household duties  Communication/language use  Use of electronic devices and access to internet/cell phones, etc.  Comings and goings 50 Preparing Your Home – Family Room – Where Everyone is Included
  51. 51. Question What if your brother-in-law makes racist statements against African Americans in the presence of your African American child?  Caregivers or adoptive parents of children of color must develop the ability to openly discuss and address issues of prejudice, racism, and discrimination.  It is important to help children of color learn to deal with racist remarks in a way that does not destroy them. This is a critical coping skill for them as they experience the negative messages they will encounter all their lives.  Situations where inappropriate remarks are made must be addressed when they happen. Adoptive parents or foster and kinship caregivers may model for the child how to deal with inappropriate statements by replying:  “I am not comfortable with what you just said, and I’d appreciate it if you would never repeat it. It says some people are worth less than others, which is neither true nor funny.”  “Talk like that hurts people’s feelings. I won’t let you talk that way here.” 51
  52. 52. Preparing Your Home – Kitchen/Dining Room – It’s All About Eating! This is the space that represents expectations and practices around mealtimes and eating. Questions: 1. What are some areas of mealtime and snacking for which you might want to set rules or expectations? 2. What things might you do to ensure that a child’s food preferences or restrictions are considered in meal planning? 52
  53. 53.  Caregivers and adoptive parents are often tempted to judge the appropriateness or enjoyment value of a meal based on the dictates of their own cultural lens. They may be tempted to view certain dining-related behaviors (such as texting or watching TV at the table) as “rude” or “offensive” when in fact these behaviors may reflect nothing more than practices the child learned at their previous home.  While the family may decide that it is not practical, healthy, or even lawful to accommodate all the eating practices of the child in the name of diversity, it is still important to consider which of these practices can be incorporate in respect for that child and the primary family.  It will take patience and creativity to figure out when and how to introduce new foods and dining-related behaviors. 53 Preparing Your Home – Kitchen/Dining Room – It’s All About Eating!
  54. 54.  Mealtime considerations:  Dietary preferences, needs, and restrictions  Eating schedule  Rituals at the table such as prayers, recitations, holding hands  Table manners such eating behaviors, burping, watching TV at the table, texting, etc.  Expectations around things like “cleaning your plate,” portion control, and “helping yourself” during meals.  Eating between meals 54 Preparing Your Home – Kitchen/Dining Room – It’s All About Eating!
  55. 55. Question What if your child has eating habits you consider unhealthy (like avoiding fruits and vegetables or eating a disproportionate amount of sweets, fats, or empty calories)— and she resists your efforts to improve her eating habits?  The foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents need to understand that adapting to a new living environment is a process that requires patience and the willingness to compromise.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should engage the child in learning about healthy eating by having him participate in planning and preparing meals and modeling healthy eating. 55
  56. 56. Preparing Your Home – Bedroom – Bedtime Rules This space represents expectations and rules around sleeping behaviors and appropriate use of the bedroom space. Questions: 1. What are things to consider when setting rules and expectations around sleeping arrangements? 2. What are things to consider when setting rules or expectations about the appropriate use of bedroom space? 56
  57. 57.  Foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents may think that their expectations and standards around bedroom practices are universally recognized as “safe” or “normal.” However, children placed in the home can bring their own assumptions and conclusions of what constitutes “safe” or “normal”.  Families need to consider:  Sleeping arrangements  Acceptable bed attire  Lights on/lights off/ night lights  Bedtime schedules on weekdays and weekends  Bedtime rituals (prayer or no prayers, bath before bed, bedtime stories etc.)  Having visitors to the bedroom or overnight guests  Bedroom orderliness including making the bed, eating in the bedroom, etc.  Bedroom décor (painting, posters, etc.) 57 Preparing Your Home – Bedroom – Bedtime Rules
  58. 58.  Non-negotiable for foster caregivers:  Number of children to a bed or bedroom  Mixing of genders in the bedroom space  Sharing a bed with the foster caregiver  Not entering a bedroom without that person’s permission. 58 Preparing Your Home – Bedroom – Bedtime Rules
  59. 59. Question What if the child wants to sleep with you because at her previous home she slept with her parent/caregiver?  Foster caregivers are bound by the foster care rules that do not allow adults to sleep in the same bed with children.  Foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents can be creative about the things they can do that will help the child feel comfortable and safe in their sleeping environment. Examples:  Offer to sit in the bedroom until child falls asleep  Offer a night light  Offer a stuffed animal  Create a ritual together that might help child feel more comfortable 59
  60. 60. Preparing Your Home – Bathroom – Hygiene and Personal Presentation This space represents issues around hygiene, privacy, and personal presentation. Questions: 1. What are some areas around hygiene and appearance for which you might want to set some rules or expectations? 2. What are some rules around personal privacy that are important to consider? 60
  61. 61.  A child’s appearance may reflect cultural or family values, a need to test limits or exert control, or a true exploration of personal identity.  Some of these self-expressions require permission from primary parents. Others may violate agency policy. It is very important for foster caregivers to understand agency policy in regards to the personal appearance of the children in their care and to always communicate with the agency worker before giving permission to the child to change his appearance.  Families should avoid judgmental language when it comes to communicating expectations around appearance. 61 Preparing Your Home – Bathroom – Hygiene and Personal Presentation
  62. 62.  When deciding the “negotiables” and “non-negotiables,” foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents need to take into account things like the child’s age and stage of development, the values and preferences of the primary family, impact on other family members, and potential responses from the school and community.  Caregivers and adoptive parents will need to give careful consideration to rules regarding:  Hygiene  Brushing teeth  Showering and bathing  Skin care  Use of deodorant  Feminine hygiene 62 Preparing Your Home – Bathroom – Hygiene and Personal Presentation
  63. 63.  Privacy and modesty issues  When exiting the bathroom after showering  Lounging around the house  Habits around cleaning up after oneself  Hair  Frequency and nature of cleansing  Natural versus processed  Styling and maintenance  Length and cut  Color  Facial hair for young men  Clothing  How tight  How neat  How dressed up or dressed down  How much skin is allowed to show  Are they allowed to “sag”  Other parameters for self-expression  Jewelry  Makeup  Tattoos  Body-piercing 63 Preparing Your Home – Bathroom – Hygiene and Personal Presentation
  64. 64. Question What if your child is of a different race? How will you care for her hair and skin?  Different hair types require specific care techniques to maintain their healthiness. If a child in your home is of a different race, it is important that you consult with the primary parents or a hair care expert who can guide you about their child’s hair care. The same applies for skin care.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should be aware that in order to honor the hair care preferences of children and their families, a substantial investment of time or money may be required.  House of New Hope offers online and in-class trainings on African- American hair and skin care. 64
  65. 65. Preparing Your Community  It is the foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents’ role to help their child maintain a positive sense of self as they experience life in the community.  Adopted children and children in foster care are often subjected to prejudice and discrimination. Caregivers and adoptive parents need to be alerted, have ongoing open communication about the issues and be ready to advocate when needed.  Children of color face racism on a daily basis. Foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents should not hesitate to talk to the child about racial issues. Children need to know what to expect and be able to know how to respond appropriately. Most importantly they need to know that the caregiver or adoptive parent is on their side and will stand up for them when needed. 65
  66. 66. Preparing Your Community - Schools  Aside from the time spent in the home, school is the place where children will spend most of their time.  School is a challenge for many adopted children and children in foster care. Many of them have had poor performance and negative experiences in school.  Some schools will be challenged by the diversity of the children. Caregivers and adoptive parents may choose to visit with school administrators prior to receiving a placement and to keep ongoing communication with them to educate, advocate, and support on behalf of the child. 66
  67. 67. Educational Advocacy  Your foster child will need a champion, especially if they are academically underachieving, behind their peers, challenged by learning disabilities, or still reeling from trauma.  You may have to ensure that your child benefits from the protections afforded students with special needs by getting them evaluated for an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or, if they are not eligible, a 504 Plan. Both are designed to remove educational barriers for special needs students and are legally binding. (See Handout)  Your treatment team can be very helpful in assisting in educational advocacy issues. 67
  68. 68. Preparing Your Community –Religious Institutions  For many people the practice of their religious beliefs is very important. Our country has laws that protect everyone’s right to practice their religious (or lack of religious) beliefs.  Children placed in the home cannot be coerced to any form of religion that is not theirs. They must be allowed to practice their beliefs, unless it has been determined and documented in their case plan that it is not in their best interest.  Foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents need to discuss their willingness to be flexible to different religious practices before they accept children in their home that are of differing beliefs. They should develop a plan for how they will ensure they meet their own ideological and religious practice needs and those of their children placed in the home. 68
  69. 69. Preparing Your Community –Community & Social Groups  As part of the family, a foster, kinship, or adoptive child will become involved in the family’s community activities.  It is important for caregivers and adoptive parents to prepare people in their life for the changes in their family system and what that will mean for all involved.  Caregivers and adoptive parents should prepare themselves and their family for the possibility of negative reactions from their community. They should have a family plan for how to respond to these negative reactions.  Caregivers must also be prepared to advocate for a child of a minority status within their community—one whose diversity the community may not be accustomed to supporting. Examples include:  A child of color in a predominantly white community (or vice versa)  A child who identifies as LGBTQ  A child who identifies with a religious minority  A child with a physical or mental disability 69
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  71. 71. 71 Based on today’s session, what next steps will you take to prepare your home to provide a safe and nurturing environment that welcomes all children no matter what diversity they bring with them?
  72. 72.  There is much to think about as foster and kinship caregivers and adoptive parents prepare for their new journey. You have the power to make a difference in a child’s life and impact the development of healthy self-identity and self- esteem.  Caregivers and adoptive parents are better equipped to do this if they remember that everyone, including children, is uniquely diverse, influenced by culture, race and ethnicity, life experiences, and individual characteristics.  It is important for caregivers and adoptive parents to respect each child’s diversity, first by learning about it, second by acknowledging it, and finally by honoring it. 72
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