American Humane: FGDM
Can't help wondering...
what you're wondering about today?
I'm thinking about families, remembering aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings. Most are gone now, but the sense of belonging, of being a part of something remains as comforting as ever.
Imagine ripping these children from their great-grandmother in order to protect them from an abusive or neglectful parent. Her loss would be devestating. Their loss incalculable. With her would go extended family members, family history, culture, mentors of skills and talents, safe harbors for all kinds of life storms.
I wonder what I would be without the grandmother who adored me and made no secret of it, the extended family members who gave me the joys and experiences of books and learning, scouting, who introduced me to the comfort of religion, the pride in "our" pew in the church, taught me of the local landmarks that created connections of my family to place through generations that came before me, gave me a sense of a history that included me and would pass on through me to next generations.
What of those who taught me manners not learned at home, values and pride in craftsmanship, who provided regular escapes from a horrific home life? What if my brothers, my reasons for hanging on were ripped from my life? What of the pets, friends, neighborhood places, schools and teachers that served as lifelines during rough times? Sure, I might have suffered less neglect and abuse by being removed from my mom and dad...maybe...but there is no doubt that I would have suffered greatly from the loss of all the other positives that come from having a connection to time and place and people.
For some reason when good people set out to do good things and don't consider all the consequences that may occur as a result of their decisions, they can cause more damage than had they done nothing. The road to hell... and we all know the rest of that! The decision to hasten the time from removing children from their homes until parental rights are terminated in order to stop the horrors of children lost in systems and place the children in permanent situations sooner sounds like one of those good intentions!
My grandson was "lucky" when the state took him from my daughter, for she was a Heroin addict, with all that includes for a young female, and his life was in jeopardy. But was he so lucky when the foster parents, eager to adopt him, and case-worker believing it best, pushed hard for that closure as soon as they could legally do so? I have no answer of course. Once the adoption took place, my daughter wasn't the only one locked out of his life when the records were "closed."
So when as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for Abused and Neglected Children) I participated in a Family Group Decision Making program I was thrilled to see the children included, along with extended family members and even close friends, in an attempt to create the best possible solutions for the children and their single Mom. How different from other meetings of professionals making decisions based on their biases, values, mood of the moment, mixed with incomplete information about the people whose lives they would change forever! The stake holders at Family Group Decision Making meetings have a lot more at stake, to say the least.
If you are interested in knowing more here is a bit....
Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare: Purpose, Values and Processes
The values associated with FGDM include:
• Children have a right to maintain their kinship and cultural connections throughout their lives;
• Children and their parents belong to a wider family system that both nurtures them and is responsible for them;
• The family group, rather than the agency, is the context for child welfare and child protection resolutions;
• All families are entitled to the respect of the state, and the state needs to make an extra effort to convey respect
to those who are poor, socially excluded, marginalized, or lacking power or access to resources and services;
• The state has a responsibility to recognize, support and build the family group’s capacity to protect and care for
their young relatives;
• Family groups know their own histories, and they use that information to construct thorough plans;
• Active family group participation and leadership is essential for good outcomes for children, but power
imbalances between family groups and child protection agency personnel must first be addressed; and
• The state has a responsibility to defend family groups from unnecessary intrusion and to promote their growth
And here are some related links:
How To Solve A Family Problem the Democratic Way
Family Group Decision Making
Families Gaining Their Seat at the Table
Engaging Families in Child Welfare Practice
Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare Purpose, Values and Processes
Seen but Not Heard? Children and Young People’s Participation
in Family Group Decision Making:Concepts and Practice Issues
Tools for Permanency: Tool #2: Family Group Decision Making
A Child is Waiting,
Take care...be aware,