Presenting the Practice - September 2016 SWAN Units of Service Meeting
As part of the ongoing effort to share ideas from across Pennsylvania at the Units of Service (U.S.) meetings, we are featuring this “Present the Practice” segment. Practices from agencies across Pennsylvania will be highlighted in this newsletter after each U.S. meeting. Below are some ideas that agencies shared with attendees of the September 2016 meeting.
Sheri Menichello from Children’s Service Center talked about having in-depth discussions with county agencies about how the Placement unit of service can help the child and family when there is a match. She noted that in each case their agency was able to secure a Placement referral.
Diana Bulbuka from The Children’s Home of Easton reminded us that engaging older youth takes time and effort—and the effort should be focused on sincere interest in getting to know the youth. That might mean invitations for coffee or other outings that don’t look like child preparation activities on the surface. She further noted that she avoided forcing any topics and continued to meet the youth where she was in the process. It took a long while, but she was able to engage the youth in the process eventually. Takeaway: Don’t give up too soon, and don’t underestimate the effectiveness of genuine interest in the youth!
Karen Park from Children’s Choice shared the kind of permanency success story we all love hearing about. She included an older sibling in the child preparation she was doing with a child being adopted in the home. The older sibling had a plan for permanent legal custodianship (PLC) in another home. As a result of Karen’s child preparation work, the older sibling expressed a desire to be adopted with the younger sibling. The resource family agreed, and now both siblings are being adopted together! So through child preparation, Karen was able to reunify the siblings, build the sibling relationship and help a child with a PLC plan be adopted along with his sibling. BEAUTIFUL!
Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries York/Mechanicsburg started a “support group” for children while their parents (resource and Post-permanency families) attend their support group. Most of the children (birth, foster and adoptive) are ages 6–12. During the two-hour session the children do child preparation–type of activities.
Families United Network started a support group for waiting families to help them through the matching process. Some discussion topics for the group sessions are searching for potential matches; planning for county interviews when a match is suggested; and the process once a match is made, including full disclosure, preplacement visits, moving day and the supervisory period before finalization. It is well known that families often feel disengaged during this critical time, and agencies need to put a lot of effort into retaining families. This sounds like a great way to keep families engaged through the matching process.