Thursday, June 14, 2007

Speaking of my previous blog entry...

This postcard was created by a former foster child, as part of the Culture of Foster Care Postcard Project by Foster Care Alumni of America.

Today, I led a workshop for a group of twelve teenagers in foster care. It was the first in a series of four workshops led by myself and three other former foster children designed to give young people a voice and prepare them for the various aspects of life after they age out of care.

The majority of attendees were 16 years old.

One young lady in my workshop raised her hand and asked, “How would you feel if someone came to the place where you were staying and asked her to tell you all about yourself when you had just met her?”

Her desire was for this person — her new caseworker — to be patient and earn her trust in some way, before demanding personal information.

Revealing deeply personal information to strangers or acquaintances is a risky venture. In my previous blog entry (and during the workshop), I mapped out a Circles of Intimacy Diagram that promotes regulating self-disclosure based upon levels of trust.

When you offer deeply personal information to strangers, even if that person is your caseworker, you are making yourself vulnerable to the unpredictability of their response. What you share will them will undoubted wind up in your case file, and depending upon the opinion of the caseworker, what is written might be skewed in various ways.

For the young person in foster care, getting a good social worker is like winning the lottery. Some caseworkers are caring, resourceful and empowering. Others are underpaid, overworked, and overwhelmed.

Most are trained to make instant judgments and to categorize young people. Those labels stay in that person’s case file and can continue to follow them until their file is closed.

1.) What do you think about the pros and cons of case files? What is helpful about them? What do you think about their accuracy?

2.) How well do you think the foster care system is doing at preparing young people to develop healthy relationships as adults?

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lol, I think you mean underpaid and overworked.
You hit the nail on the head with the instant judgement thing. One thing that annoys me is their constant use if the term, "These kids"
It kind of reeks of "You People"

Ha ha -- thanks for catching my typo... I fixed it.

That's what comes from typing in a hurry,

I think case files are a necessary evil. I also think that older kids should have a say in what goes in there. My teens (16, 17, 17) read over my shoulder while I write the prog notes.

I think the foster care system confuses kids about how to have appropriate relationships. Our big kids come to us as forever kids, yet paperwork forces the foster element (in some cases it even says staff).
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