Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why Good Will Hunting and I have hard heads

Quote from Good Will Hunting:
Will: He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, "Choose."
Sean: Well, I gotta go with the belt there.
Will: I used to go with the wrench.
Sean: Why?
Will: Cause f*ck him, that's why.

When I was a child, my father used to grab me by my shoulders, dig his fingers into my arms and throw me up against the wall over and over again.

He was bigger than me and stronger than me.
My voice was the only weapon that I had at my disposal.
So what did I do? I mouthed off:

Quote from Lisa's childhood:
Dad: SLAM!
Me: You're a terrible father.
Dad: SLAM!
Me: You're a bully.
Dad: SLAM!
Me: (having looked up "passive aggressive" in the dictionary) It's very passive-aggressive to take out your anger on a nine-year-old.
Dad: SLAM!

Just this morning, for some odd reason, my husband and I were talking about this. It baffles Nathan that I kept mouthing off.

Quote from this morning's conversation:
Nathan: Why didn't you just shut your mouth?
Me: What I told him was the truth.
Nathan: Yeah, well, you couldn't have picked a less teachable moment.
Me: He was going to hit me anyway.

I could have begged for mercy I suppose. I could have cried. But, in my mind, at the time, that would have made me weak.

And I always knew that I was strong enough to outlast him.

What does this mean to me today?
Well... hopefully I've gotten a little bit smarter about when to speak out and when to be silent!

But I hope that I always stand up for things that matter most to me. I hope I never cower in fear rather than telling the truth about something.

I was never sure what to expect from my father when he walked into a room.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Role of Foster Care Youth and Alumni in Child Welfare Training

In what ways are various organizations and agencies inviting the passion and dynamism of foster care youth and alumni to be a part of their child welfare training?

1.) Cby25 stands for "Connected by 25," a community initiative to improve outcomes for foster youth by investing in services and programs.

Their Florida Policy to Practice Academy empowers both current and former foster children:

- Cby25 youth (ages 14-17) serve as co-trainers: They always co-train with a certified Cby25 staff member, and their foster parents usually participate as well. Youth also participate on panels.

- Cby25 alumni (ages 18+) contribute to curriculum: Former foster children work for Cby25's Curriculum Development & Training Department. They continue to train/co-train as needed, while developing new ideas and trainings.

2.) Other organizations allow foster care youth/alumni to co-train child welfare audiences.

These include: EARS, ELEVATE and FosterClub. Workshops are personalized to the extent that the young person uses his/her story to illustrate the preexisting curriculum.

SAYSO allows young people between the ages of 14-23 to co-present with adults/alumni and to help create the actual workshop.

3.) Y.O.U.T.H. stands for "Youth Offering Unique Tangible Help." The initial development team that created their entire curriculum was made up of foster care youth/alumni, ages 16-21.

The YOUTH Training Project is staffed entirely by foster care alumni.

- Youth serve as co-trainers: They always train with one/more staff members, and might also be accompanied by one/more of their peers. Adults provide coaching during rehearsal, assistance with set-up. Adults shadow/assist with the presentation and debrief with the young person afterward.

- Alumni (18+) develop curriculum: Y.O.U.T.H. alumni trainers are trained extensively, and empowered to develop curriculum and lead entire trainings. Each trainer is expected to sign up for at least 5 trainings/year.

Youth and alumni have the opportunity to participate as as panelists and keynote speakers. Y.O.U.T.H. requires young people under the age of 18 to submit their written keynote speeches ahead of time to staff for approval and editing help.

Empowering Foster Care Youth and Alumni as Trainers

I am currently researching various organizations that certify foster care youth/alumni as child welfare trainers. This is a project that I am doing in collaboration with my state's statewide child welfare training program.

Here are the organizations I have contacted so far:

California Youth Connection

Connected By 25




Honoring Emancipated Youth

Kentucky Children First


Peer Assistance and Leadership (TX)


Voices of Youth