Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A model for Youth-Centered Permanency

Lisa, Kerri and Allyson at Colorado conference

One of my favorite workshops during the Many Voices, One Vision conference was "Youth-Centered Permanency," led by Allyson Coldwell and Kerri Klein.

Allyson and Kerri tackle "cold cases" in which a child has been languishing in foster care for years.

This young person is usually between the ages of 12- 16 years old.

They put on their detective hats and work with that young person to chart all the caring adults in his or her life. The list they generate from his or her answers might include neighbors, distant relatives, teachers, coaches, staff members from previous group homes or residential facilities, etc.

Then, Allyson and Kerri contact those adults, with the young person's permission, and invite them to participate with the young person in a meeting. During this somewhat lengthy process, they stay in touch with the young person because they know that this process can stir up painful emotions.

During the actual meeting, each adult in attendance has the opportunity to make a firm commitment to the young person. This commitment might range from holiday cards, to weekly phone calls, to monthly visits - or even adoption!

I wish this had been done for me during my time in foster care.

Every time I changed placements, I lost contact with every caring adult that I had built a relationship with... Those adults were either forbidden to contact me, discouraged from contacting me, or just didn't have any contact information to stay in touch with me afterwards!

Allyson and Kerri's method struck me as creative, innovative and having powerful potential to increase the circle of support in a young person's life.

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Lisa, you look great. Keep up the good work.
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