Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Learning more about Mobility Mapping, thanks to the Dave Thomas Foundation

The Dave Thomas Foundation's adoption model is based on making sure that youth come first when it comes to adoption decisions.

They firmly believe that it’s most important to listen to each youth’s experience, history and needs.

Their program focuses on finding permanency for youth who are most at risk of “aging out” of foster care (older youth, sibling groups, minority groups, children who have been in foster care for a long time, and/or have experienced a previous failed adoption).

Mobility mapping is a relaxed and informal method of exploring a young person’s history, in order to identify people and relationships that might provide permanency.

To avoid re-traumatizing young people, facilitators are encouraged to encourage often, and to redirect away from painful and negative memories.

 Sample questions might include:
  • Who in your family might know other relatives’ last names? 
  • Who in your family would be the person who would be most likely to coordinate family reunions? 
  • Creating maps of where the young person lived at certain times in their lives, and the person / people in their life at that time that they trusted. 
 Mobility mapping always includes safety conversations: 

  • Youth are invited to use marker to identify the people they feel safe with 
  • And to repeat this with a different color marker to mark the people they do NOT feel safe with 
  • At that point, young person (him or herself) is empowered to identify the people from the safe list that they would want to reconnect with
Mobility mapping also encourages youth to identify their own greatest needs:
  • "What five things are missing from your life right now?"
  • "What are the top five things you need - they can be people, things, or unanswered questions."
  • Youth can rank those top things in order based on most to least importance. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, report it

Reasons why being a mandatory reporter of abuse matters:

1. Mandatory reporting matters for kids who are victims.
If no one cares enough to report it, the abuse will continue. They will be emotionally traumatized, and often physically scarred. They could even die.

2. Mandatory report is worth it for the cases in which the child is being abused, but it is deemed by those in power that there is "insubstantial" proof.

Certain types of neglect and abuse are difficult to "substantiate" Because there is no physical evidence. That doesn't mean that child or teen is not worth advocating for... And it's still worth taking the time to call.

If and when you do call to report suspected child abuse or neglect, be prepared for the following:
  • Some of the hotlines are not adequately staffed. You might be on hold for a very long time. 
  • Sometimes the staff member who answers might not seem very responsive or helpful.
  • Sometimes it takes three or more separate calls for anyone to do anything to protect that child.  
There are so many young people for whom I wish someone had cared enough to notice and report their abuse sooner.

Taking the time to report suspected neglect and/or abuse can help improve that child's current experience - and possibly save his or her life.

 ‪#‎IfYouSeeChildAbuseReportIt‬‬ ‪

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tough Love, Gentle Love... and Speaking the Truth in Love

Some people are all about "tough love" - but I tend to lean towards gentle love.  I remember what it was like to experience abusive treatment before and during my time in the foster care system.

I have all too clear memories of the trauma I felt, and the goofy things I did during my teenage years and young adulthood. That, to me, means I should likely try to extend that young person some grace.

But I also know that the people who truly helped me GROW were those who were brave enough to tell me what I needed to work on. So that means that I also need to tell the truth, even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable - and even if the person lashes out at me - with the overall GOAL of supporting that young person both now and in the long run.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Friday, July 24, 2015

Housing continues to the biggest unmet need for young people "aging out" of foster care

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mapping out our mission and our boundaries

Whenever foster care youth, alumni and allies come together and make a difference -- that is altogether GREAT with me.

I truly believe that we are indeed Better Together.

The only time you will ever see my walls of protection rise is when I worry that foster care youth and alumni efforts might be at risk of being hijacked by outside interests.

Please expect Mama Bear to come out at that time.

Or, as Galdolf says it:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Needing something so badly you don't know how to get it

How do I make healthy connections? 
What does it look like when relationships slowly build over time? 

As foster care youth, we often lack that secure base of knowing that someone will always love us and be there for us.

Walking around without that comfort and reassurance is like walking around with a missing piece inside.

This is an unmet need that we live with every day, until we are able to establish safe, secure, and lasting relationships in our lives.

Because we grow up lacking the security of that connection, I've noticed that foster youth can sometimes go to extremes: trusting either too quickly or too slowly.

It's ironic - this sense of needing something so badly that you don't know how to get it.

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