Your Vision For Children In Care

††††††††Think about children in care and about your hopes and dreams
for them and for their futures. At the same time, think about
your job, about what your commitment is to these most vulnerable
children. Your hopes for and commitment to the children is your
'vision' for children.


††††††††Here is a sample vision statement that you can use as a
starting point as you develop your personal vision statement.
Please work with the statement until it reflects your vision for
children in care and your commitment to them. You may want to add
items, delete items, or change items. Your goal is to make the
vision statement yours.


††††††††After each item in your vision statement, write a sentence
or two about why you think itís important for children in care.


Children in care:


††††††Must have their needs for food, clothing, shelter, health
care, education, and spiritual nurturing met.







††††††Deserve my unconditional love and respect.







††††††Must develop a strong sense of self-worth and personal
esteem.







††††††Are entitled to live in a safe, nurturing home where they
can develop to their fullest potentials.







††††††Must learn how to be responsible, contributing members of
the community.








††††††††What else should be in this section of your personal vision
statement to make it right for you?


††††††(a.)







††††††(b.)








I will:


††††††Accept personal responsibility for the safety and well-being
of each child in my home.







††††††Value and build on each child's individual strengths.







††††††Convey strong values, a clear sense of responsibility, and
realistic expectations to each child.







††††††Provide a positive role model for children.







††††††Do all I can to make sure that children get the services and
special help they need.







††††††Work to eliminate any barriers that prevent children from
reaching their full potentials.








††††††††What else should be in this section of your personal vision
statement to make it right for you?


††††††(a.)







††††††(b.)








My promise to each child in my home is:


††††††I will honestly share my feelings and ideas with you. From
me, you will always get the truth.







††††††I will always use age-appropriate and respectful
communication, problem solving, and interpersonal approaches
with you.







††††††I will openly and honestly let you know how your behavior is
affecting me and other people in the family.







††††††I sincerely care about you and about what you think and
feel.







††††††I will be there for you, when you need me, where you need
me, for as long as you are in my care, doing what you need
to have done.







††††††I will consistently provide emotional and interpersonal
support and security for you.







††††††I will help you understand the implications of not dealing
right now with your problems.







††††††I will do all I can to help you get the help you need.







††††††I expect you to participate in making choices about the help
you get and in deciding about what problems and issues we
choose to work on.








††††††††What else should be in this section of your personal vision
statement to make it right for you?


††††††(a.)







††††††(b.)










1.2 Well-adjusted children


††††††††Here are the most common characteristics describing
well-adjusted, school age children. You can use the list to see
how any child is doing, compared to other children the same age.
You also can consider what the effects of maltreatment would be
for a child in these areas.


††††††††While thinking about the list, understand that maltreatment
doesn't affect every child the same way. It may cause problems in
some areas and not in others. Overall, though, maltreated
children donít get along as well as other children. Fortunately,
when they are in safe, nurturing homes where their well-being is
a priority, maltreated children can get past their adjustment
problems. It takes time, love, qualified help, and a lot of
patience. Still, they most always can handle the challenge of
getting up-and-over the worst of times in their young lives.


††††††††After each item, write a sentence or two about what you
think the effects of maltreatment might be in that area.


A well-adjusted, school age child:


††††††Is in good health and not often ill.







††††††Is energetic and interested in what is going on in his
world.







††††††Is usually relaxed and comfortable with himself.







††††††Is self-confident in most situations.







††††††Eats regularly in normal amounts.







††††††Stays away from alcohol or other drugs.







††††††Is well-behaved most of the time.







††††††Manages his anger and temper responsibly.







††††††Feels successful most of the time.







††††††Is responsible and dependable most of the time.







††††††Deals well with most day-to-day stresses and pressures.







††††††Makes and keeps friends his age.







††††††Has friends who are reasonably well-behaved and who do well
in school.







††††††Finishes homework and other assignments on time.







††††††Is involved in school activities and projects.







††††††Talks with appropriate adults about his activities, friends,
and problems.










1.3 Well-being


††††††††It isn't hard to see that children in care have problems and
issues that most children never experience. Their troubles are
varied but most all are suffering the effects and trauma of
maltreatment. What's more, their difficulties are compounded by
the effects of separation from their neighborhoods, their
schools, their families, and their personal cultural ties.


††††††††Were that not enough, the children's lives are further
disrupted by having to live in new homes, probably in new
neighborhoods, with strangers. Virtually all of the people,
places, and things that the children have known change at the
very time they are most vulnerable. To fully appreciate the
effects of all of this change on developing children, you need to
see that children are multi-dimensional people.


††††††††Childrenís development starts with their physical, doing
dimension. It incorporates their physical bodies, their
potentials and capacities to do and behave, and most of what is
visible in terms of their actions and activities.


††††††††Part of each parent's role is to help his children grow to
respect and appreciate their physical abilities and skills, to
know how to behave in a variety of situations, and to recognize
and utilize their physical capacities and potentials. This
physical, doing dimension starts at infancy and is central to
children' adjustment throughout their journey to adulthood.


††††††††The emotional dimension is equally important. Here are found
feelings, fears and frustrations, sadness and joy, disappointment
and excitement, love and hate, fun and futility. Growing children
experience all of these emotions and need to learn how to
interpret them, how to express them, and how to manage them.


††††††††For example, children must learn to express anger without
having tantrums, to deal with despair and disappointment without
becoming destructively depressed, to express love and joy without
getting into harmful or inappropriate relationships. Within this
dimension, children must learn to deal with their emotions and
learn how to express their feelings effectively and
appropriately.


††††††††Around the age of four or five the moral, spiritual
dimension begins to emerge. Effectively helping children develop
a solid sense of right and wrong, good and bad, requires that
their parents are clear about their own values and beliefs in
these areas. Success in this dimension is critical to success in
the social dimension that emerges about the same time.


††††††††When children are about five or six, the social dimension
becomes dominate and begins to interact with the other developing
dimensions. The social dimension embraces the child's potential
to interact with other children and adults and to become socially
effective and self-determined.


††††††††By about eleven or twelve, the child's emerging sexual
dimension begins dynamically interacting with the other
developing dimensions. Sexual behavior and attitudes that are
appropriate and inappropriate, healthy and unhealthy, effective
and ineffective are best conveyed to maturing adolescents by
parents who have carefully thought through and appropriately deal
with the issues.


††††††††This central parental responsibility similarly applies to
the thinking, learning dimension that starts at birth and gains
focus at seventeen or eighteen. By then, children need to be
self-directed, skilled learners who are formulating independent
ideas and perceptions. They should be thinking critically,
clearly, and thoroughly. Older adolescents need to be receptive
to the ideas of others and at the same time able to combine those
ideas with their own, i.e., they should be thinking for
themselves.


††††††††The point here is that children are complex individuals.
Further, their healthy and successful growth and development are
also very complex processes. Although most children pass through
their developing years with only occasional problems and issues,
many don't. While most children are safe, have permanent homes,
and live with adults who are committed to their well-being, other
children are maltreated and their well-being is jeopardized.
Their parents are failing them at a time in their lives when the
children absolutely need them to succeed.


††††††††Yes, many of the causes of parental failure leading to
children coming into care can and will be corrected. In the
meantime, though, the children are continuing to grow and
develop. For these children, everyone working with them must
commit themselves to their well-being. Their futures depend on
it. The children are counting on it.


††††††††As you can see, keeping maltreated children safe isn't
enough. Their physical, emotional, moral, spiritual, social,
sexual, and intellectual well-being must also be nurtured and
supported. If this doesn't happen, these most vulnerable children
will be forever the victims of the maltreatment they have
experienced.


From your point of view:


††††††††When children are maltreated, abruptly taken from their
families, and placed into care, what do you think the short and
long-term effects will be in these developmental areas? After
each area, write a sentence or two about what you think the
negative effects may be.


††††††Physical growth and development







††††††Behavior and adjustment







††††††Emotional well-being







††††††Moral and spiritual growth







††††††Self-image and self-esteem







††††††Social and interpersonal adjustment







††††††Sexual development and behavior







††††††Intellectual growth and school success










1.4 What children learn


††††††††The events and circumstances that lead to children coming
into care jeopardize their present and future well-being. The
complex problems and issues that are certainly there for them
aren't minor and aren't something they will quickly grow out of
or just get over. They are serious problems that require your
thoughtful attention.


††††††††Children are continuously learning. What they learn and how
well they learn it are the important questions. In healthy,
stable families, children discover an exciting world where they
can experiment with and master the ideas and skills they need to
grow and develop in productive and positive ways. Their parents
aren't always right, don't always set the best example, and
sometimes make mistakes. Still, everyone in the family shares in
the give-and-take and healthy learning goes on for everyone.


††††††††In homes where children are severely maltreated, children
still learn but what they learn and what they do with what they
learn are quite different matters.


From your point of view:


††††††††Write your thoughts after each question.


††††††What do children learn when they are continuously exposed to
family and neighborhood violence, drug abuse, severe
poverty, criminal activity, and serious parental and family
dysfunction?







††††††What do children learn when their parents don't keep them
safe and don't tend to their needs and well-being?







††††††What do children learn when they live in filthy, unsafe
homes?







††††††What do children learn when they are physically,
emotionally, and sexually violated by people in their homes?







††††††What do children learn when they are abruptly removed from
their homes, from their families, from their neighborhoods,
from their schools, and from their personal cultures?







††††††What do children learn when a family who said that they
cared about them has them removed because they are
inconvenient or disruptive?







††††††What do children learn when they are moved from place to
place and have little to no say about it?







††††††What do maltreated children do with all of the learning
experiences they have had? What ideas, behavior, and
life-skills do they master?







††††††How would you expect all of that learning to come out in
terms of the child's behavior, emotional and social
adjustment, family relationships, school performance, and
general attitude?

For more information and additional foster care resources, visit American Foster Care Resources (AFCR)





By Gary A. Crow, Ph.D.; Letha I. Crow, MSW March 23, 2017