Right now, I am trying really hard to remain on my platform. My tolerance is gone. I am tired, achy, cold and it is taking all my might not to scream. Why all of this frustration, you might ask? After all, I am a FCNI shelter social worker. It's my job--my passion, my calling--to work with children entering Emergency Shelter Care. So why am I so frustrated and exhausted standing here outside of a foster home at 1:30 in the morning?
Tag: childhood trauma
Working in FCNI’s administrative services, I don’t get to experience much direct interaction with our kids or families, at least not as much as I’d like. So I depend on our direct service staff to share their stories and experiences with me--their ups, downs, good days and even their hard days, and the countless examples they get to see of our staff’s and families’ resiliency and unwavering hope.
At 12, twins, Kyle and Nick, were very different. Kyle was quick to react—verbally and physically—without much regard for others. While Nick, painfully shy, often let Kyle do all the talking (and reacting) for him. The boys had been placed in Emergency Shelter Care when it was discovered that their parents were unable to provide them with a safe and stable home. In care, both boys displayed the trauma that they experienced through their behaviors--Kyle became more aggressive and Nick withdrew almost completely.
America’s system for caring for foster children is in serious need of a change. Our current system is based on archaic practices, often contrary to the best interest of children and contradictory to current science; and by and large, does more damage than benefit to children!
The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, as well as the Month of the Child. It serves as a great platform for discussing the extent of trauma youth all across our country are living with, and how our politicians have showed complete disregard and lack of concern, and, at times, disdain towards the safety and wellbeing of children and youth in this country.
Many a good parent has entered the world of foster care and adoption, only to be blindsided by the complete ineffectiveness of many of their go-to parenting tools. They find that the children in their care respond differently than their friend’s kids or even their biological children. This is “difference” is sparked by TRAUMA. Drug exposure, stress, separation, neglect, domestic violence and abuse all affect the brain, especially during the formative years of development. Trauma has taught the body that the world is a scary place. Not being the source of the hurt the children in your care have endured, we assume that they will trust us. But the reality is that on a physiological level, they fear us. Unfortunately, many parenting tools are based on the assumption that children trust adults. For a traumatized child, parents need to take a different approach.
First, a few years into working with children with behavior problems stemming from trauma, I began to notice how some kids developed a sense of hopelessness in very rigid homes/group homes. The more difficult a child’s behaviors were, the more restrictive the consequences would become; and eventually, the child would have no privileges and no areas of success. Once this happened, they had nothing left to lose and their behaviors would often escalate.