Exploring and developing our promise of a permanent family for every child.
What Do You Think? ©
Volume 4, Issue # 7
Topic: Imagine Permanence Being as Intuitive as Safety
Ideas: If permanency were that intuitive in child welfare services, it would start at the agency’s front door; there would be urgency about family connections for all children and youth; and every program, every staff would think of it as essential to their jobs.
Discussion: Families have resources that the “Teflon touch” of protective and other child welfare services have been letting slide away. As if by magic, when protective service workers touch a family, many folks step back, some with relief and some from fear. As we move toward placement others get pushed back. The bureaucratic hoops and often insensitive scrutiny of willing family resources is intimidating even for the hardiest who persevere. It takes months for non kin and even kin to reach “certified”. If permanency were as intuitive as safety we would find a way to grab those friends, family members and others to keep them involved. If those folks around a child held the key to their safety what would we do differently?
The need for a child (including teens) to be safe is never put off until a more convenient time. In fact it is virtually part of everything we do for the children in our care. We may have to make time to write up the safety plan, but we can’t conceive of putting off insuring that a child is safe just because of the shortage of time for the write-up. Imagine that same urgency for a child’s family connections. What might we do differently at each service planning meeting? How might we plan differently? Who might we involve and how soon? If we can only think of permanency as a child’s security, we can link the two in the intuitive description of “safe and secure”.
When permanency is as intuitive as safety, it’s everybody’s job. Is safety someone else’s job because “this is a treatment program”, “an independent living service” or “housing and career focused”? Many of our non program staff don’t even know what permanency is for children and youth in their own agencies, but they do know safety. How might administrative and support staff be involved differently if they all recognized that permanency is essential? What will it take to make permanency as intuitive as safety?
What Do You Think?