Monday, September 25, 2006

Foster youth recommendations in my state

An organization in my state is working to establish a statewide foster youth advocacy group.

The director of this organization was first inspired by California Youth Connection. She and I met earlier this year with two members of her staff.

Foster youth involved in this program are given opportunities to describe their experiences to children's services staff, judges and youth advocates.

Here are some of the recommendations they have made on how to change the system...

Having their voice heard in court
Current foster youth report that they want to be able to speak to the judge personally about their case. They want to be present when a move is being considered or custodial decisions are being made. They desire meaningful interaction with the CASA or guardian ad-litem who is representing them in court.

Any adult would want to meet with his / her lawyer before a trial.

Sharing their insights regarding placements, including reunification
Foster youth want to be able to contact their caseworker directly. Meetings regarding the possiblity of reunification should include youth, biological parents, foster parents and caseworker.

Foster youth want the homes in which they are placed to be safe.
They recommended that foster parents participate in training, meet strict qualifications and be evaluated on an ongoing basis. They also recommended that foster parents be observed actually interacting with youth before being granted a license.

Continuity of care with therapist
Maintaining the same therapist, regardless of placement, builds trust and gives youth time to work through emotional issues. (Caseworkers and foster parents should also receive more training in the emotional challenges faced by foster youth).

Normalcy and preparation to transition out of foster care
- Placement with siblings, or regular contact with siblings
- Able to spend the night with a friend from school, if foster parent gives permission
- Freedom to participate in extra curricular activities
- Able to get a driver's license*

Foster youth asked for opportunities to engage in real-life experience, such as how to obtain housing, access public transportation and manage a checking account.

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You know I was a CASA in Arizona. When I moved here to Texas, I went to the child advocacy week long training, and was taken aback by a lot of things. They insisted, all throughout the training, that we agree with CPS at all costs.
That being said, it seemed more like having an extra body around than really making any difference

Thank you for letting me know about this...

The whole point of CASA is having a voice for the child -- even if that voice is in disagreement with CPS.

Okay... you have officially inspired my next blog entry.

Thank you,
I agree. Child Advocates, Inc is casa but not casa. It's wierd.
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