Will this be recorded and made available to attendees?
Yes, it will be recorded
Hello from Tulsa OK
Good morning from Seattle! Hi Shrounda :)
Hi from Denver!
Hi Katie nice to know you are out there
Awesome! Thank you for this great conversation! Greetings from Florida
Elizabeth Henderson - SCAO Child Welfare Services
If you did not receive an email with the article relating to today’s training, please email Kate McPherson at McPhersonK@courts.mi.gov to request a copy. Thanks!
At my agency, supervisors do not want to talk and have an open conversation as they deem these issues politics... So how can we have a real open conversation - to find those answers as to Hwat Next?
Shrounda, THAT (the holding on of rigid beliefs and value judgments about parents instead of looking at the person as a whole, AND about the harm of separation to children) is the main problem with the child welfare system. That rigidity and judgment holds true for how the system treats all parents, but for Black and brown parents, its only so much worse.
Shift the focus from Child Welfare to Family Welfare; Child Protective Services to Family Protective Services.
We'd have to admit we have been the child relocation system and not the child welfare system.
There is so much subjective judgment making on behalf of the initial investigator on cases here that the spin on the presentment of those facts controls the case having from the outset. It is not always about identifying needs but rather punishments.
and @ Jacob
We can’t make things better without identifying and helping with those specific needs and in ways that will actually help those individuals
Reasonable efforts can't just be cookie cutter without thought and focus on the individuals.
Being present is hard - it requires time - 150 clients … unfair to all clients!
I think there is fear and self-protection involved too. To see a client as a person, a parent - you have to recognize that the pain YOU would feel if your child was removed, is the same pain they are feeling. In order to keep "doing your job", it may be a self-preservation strategy to keep yourself from feeling that truth.
Self preservation requires one to recognize that we all encounter secondary trauma based on our clients' stories. We all need a good therapist. :-)
Yes. One of the most powerful things a client ever said to me was “thank you for listening to me.” and when I said of course, it’s my job as your attorney, and she said “no, I mean, thank you for listening to me.” Our clients do not feel seen and heard as human beings in the child welfare system, or probably the rest of the systems they must interact with. And as their attorneys—their advocates—we don’t do a better job.
absolutely what I’m saying @Evelyn
just so much gratitude to be with others even virtually who also care 🙏🏻
Shrounda, I think you just captured one of the issues we MUST address in child welfare. "People are fighting for children."
I'm reflecting deeply on that statement when we consider the current (lack of) relationship between caregivers and parents.
caseloads make this difficult. When you go from one crisis to another it becomes very difficult for attorneys, advocates, and sw's to stay open
to stay present and not defended
folks with the most empathy do the best job and best at connecting with families but they are also the most impacted by the trauma
I am loving this conversation, thank you! Totally agree that addressing our own compassion fatigue is essential to doing our job. In case it is useful, here is a resource called "Five Ways to Address Our Compassion Fatigue" that has some tips for child welfare lawyers and also links to other resources
The “fixed” vs. “healed” distinction is a crucial one that our system doesn’t understand.
sorry here is the link! https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/childrens-rights/practice/2018/five-steps-addressing-compassion-fatigue/
Amelia Franck Meyer
Lauren, understand you can't do for others, you can hold space, trust, witness, encourage, etc., but you can't heal others. Being a steadfast healing partner, present with compassion, is not the same as me healing you. What's your role? What's their role? Staying connected, engaged, compassionate, but not to your own detriment.
There is not deep psychotherapy, from a psychiatrist, as opposed to talk therapy from a counselor, available to our clients. This is a problem because for so many it is these deep wounds that are creating the drug/alcohol problem.
Next step: Convince CPS Foster Care Adoption Workers to work together -- not as adversaries -- to heal.
This is why case planning is so crucial. When parents are assigned meaningless courses or therapies (with contracted services, no less) — we aren’t actually addressing or seeking restoration. Parents and families deserve to be seen and they deserve the right to tools and resources that speak to them, that are relevant to them and that will actually help them!
Child Protection Industrial Complex?!
I think we lose so much when we require SWs to do concurrent planning.
Absolutely Afrasan. Agencies paid daily rate to keep kids in care also paid to provide services that will reunify and cut that daily rate and then a bonus for quick adoption placement. No conflicts here!
when one person is responsible for both reunifying the family and ensuring there is another family ready to be the permanent placement of the child(ren) something gets lost
maggie potter she/her
Amazing testimony Shrounda. Thank you
Thanks Shrounda! <3<3<3
Shrounda, I am so honored to sit here and soak in your wisdom.
@maura, I agree that high-quality psychotherapy is a service that is needed and sorely lacking. It can come from a psychologist, a social worker, a marriage and family therapist, etc. (doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist… most of them do not practice therapy nowadays anyway). What matters is having high-quality, well-trained therapists be available and paid for.
I definitely agree with Jacob. As parent attorney I can easily tell when the case worker has decided the child is better with the foster family.
Thank you, Shrounda. Acknowledging pain is so important.
“Human connection heals."
Our clients have three different attorneys at three different hearings.... hard to claim "I will be with you"
Some of my clients were in the foster children themselves, and deeply distrust the system and are NOT inclined to cooperate with the system as an adult. SWs see that as not caring about their children. But it’s distrust of the system and feeling hopeless—they can never win against the system, so why should they try?
Why do workers believe that parents are going to trust them?
That is so powerful.
Forget getting the parents to trust the workers - sometimes I don't trust the workers, or their desire to really help my client.
@ Kathleen - in my opinion they don't. they have power to tell the parent what to do, trust doesn't seem to be needed.
tcypher - yep
They complain to psychologists etc that the parent doesn't trust them. As though that is a flaw.
yes to parent mentors!
this is one of the places where racism comes into play. Indigenous people and Black people and other people of color have been given very few reasons to trust
Foster parents as parent resources or mentors, not hiding from bio parents and hoping bio parents will fail so that they can adopt their foster children.
Has anyone seen the discrepancy on how clients are treated when they are in a specialty court versus non-specialty court clients?
Amelia, in your work with systems, have you focused on supporting social workers - addressing compassion fatigue, etc and how does that impact their ability to connect with parents and families?
YES we need foster families who can foster the child AND the parent! We too often have a competition between people who ideally should be working together on behalf of the child
Amelia Franck Meyer
Hi Cathy! Yes! We do tons of workforce wellbeing with agencies and the research is so clear on the second half of your question.
In well working therapeutic courts parents are treated like they matter and are worth the time and resources and healing
@ Jacob - Yes.
Thank you Jacob - I was wondering if it was just me.
@ Valerie - completely agree. Now how to get there.....
Amelia Franck Meyer
Tiffany, yay!! 100% agree.
I have found that being a fighter gets me in trouble with Department as well as the court. It hasn't stopped me but it has cost me.
Me too Evonne
proposal: case managers and attorneys must spend as many hours with parent per week as they require parent to spend with "providers" - that will guarantee bonding time
Taking action, filing motions, can get you in trouble with supervisors...
We have to try to keep in mind that FIGHTING the department will not get us fired. Caring sometimes causes us to lose our strategic focus, but if we're not angry we're not caring.
Evonne, that's been my experience too! Judicial officers screaming at me about handling exhibits in online hearings. It takes courage to be a fighter.
Michigan's system of courts appointing attorneys doesn't lend itself to fighting for clients and against the agencies.
The best words I got this morning are that FRS are really repairing the LEGACY of societal loss.
Virginia’s system is TERRIBLE and parents attorneys are appointed from the GAL list, which means they are focused on child and are used to being opposed to the parent, not the parents’ advocates
That is my favorite question in litigation. “What will it take…” It’s led to some really good things.
Evonne, I had that happen to me in one county. In another county, strong advocacy is welcomed. It just depends.
Thank You All for this meeting. Brings warm energy back! Helps us keep fighting! Please have these meetings again! Thank you!
Can you please post the recording of this zoom webinar for my associates, who are in court right now?
This has been fantastic. Thank you!!!
Shrounda - agree totally!
Thank you all this was really great
Just a quick reminder to trial attorneys -- if you feel that agency isn't making reasonable efforts make that argument in trial court so that appellate court will apply a more stringent standard of review
yes, thank you, and also capture the chat!!
Please do more :)
so great! 2 hours next time!
Amelia Franck Meyer
For those of you who are talking about the trouble you get into for speaking up and advocating. Stay with it, and think of the lens of gentle action...can you build instead of fight? Everyone thinks they're doing the right thing; at the end of the day, what story do they tell themselves about how they're doing the right thing? Meet them in that space.
Thank you for your excellent thoughts and encouraging change agents
So good, thank you speakers!
Thank you all. Shrounda, your words have been especially powerful.
That’s great advice, Amelia. And thank you all for this terrific discussion.
Thank you so much!
Yes parent's attorney --- the LGAL'S love to hear from a parent attorney who fights for the parent
Black Lives Matter !
Thank you for a wonderful, powerful webinar!