Foster care kids need help as they age out of system

Kids Need Help Aging out of Foster CareSetting up a new apartment and living independently is challenging for a new graduate with a new job, but if you’re one of the roughly 113 children a month aging out of the foster care system in Southwest Florida the challenge can be even more daunting.

The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida provides independent living training each month for 100 to 125 people turning 18 and preparing to leave the foster care system, according to Aimee McLaughlin. She’s the spokeswoman for the agency that runs the adoption and foster care system in five counties. About 1,500 children are in foster care in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Charlotte counties.

“We can always use more support for our youth,” McLaughlin said by email. “One agency or one person can’t do it alone. We need mentors, more pro bono services like apartments willing to negotiate, businesses to offer classes, driving schools to offer lessons, etc.”

Full story of kid aging out of foster care at News Press

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City Seeking to Diversify Foster System

City Recruiting Gay and Lesbian Parents for Foster CareNew York City is launching a campaign to recruit gay and lesbian foster parents, part of a major push to expand the kinds of families who consider fostering and to find more welcoming homes for children who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

The public ad campaign, set to roll out this week, features images of an interracial gay couple spending time with a young child. “Be the reason she has hope,” one of the ads reads. In another, a black woman is pictured alone with a white teenage boy. “Be the reason it gets better,” the message says.

How many of the nearly 13,000 children in New York City’s foster-care system identify as LGBTQ is unclear because the city does not keep such data. But, citing anecdotal evidence, researchers, child advocates and city officials insist that the children are disproportionately represented in the foster care system and say the need to find them supportive homes is great.

“When we decided to do this campaign we knew that LGBTQ young people are disproportionately represented in our foster care population, especially among our teens,” said Ronald Richter, commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, the city’s child welfare agency.

Full story of  diverse foster system at The Wall Street Journal

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Foster Care a Sound Choice for Some Maltreated Children

Foster Care for Maltreated ChildrenNewspaper articles, TV shows and books are filled with horror stories of children placed in foster care. A new study bucks that trend by showing out-of-home placements can improve the emotional health of some youths who have been maltreated by a parent.

The study, led by Ann-Marie Conn, PhD, general pediatric academic fellow at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, will be presented Monday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Dr. Conn and her colleagues compared mental health problems in 281 children ages 3-18 years who remained at home after being maltreated, with 482 children who were placed out of their homes (e.g., in foster care). These children were from a nationally representative sample of children referred to child welfare.

Full story of foster care at Science Daily

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TeachME: New Online Courses

TeachME LOGOAPA Ethical Principles for Psychologists

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Ethical Principals for Psychologist’s and Code of Code of Conduct provides an overview of standards that psychologists adhere to in protecting the welfare of individuals and the integrity of the profession. This brief, intermediate level course discusses general principles, ethical standards, and amendments to the code of conduct. Topics include human relations, privacy and confidentiality, education and training, research and publication, assessment, and therapy. Course material: Copyright @ 2010 by the American Psychological Association. Reproduced with permission. No further reproduction or distribution is permitted without written permission from the American Psychological Association.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy With At-Risk Families

This brief, intermediate level course was developed using material from Child Welfare Information Gateway and will provide an overview of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and its effectiveness with abused and at-risk children. The characteristics and benefits of PCIT are discussed as well as the phases of treatment.

Supporting Parents With Mental Health Needs Through Community-Based Systems of Care

The role of community-based systems of care in addressing the needs of parents with mental illness and the needs of their children is outlined in this brief, intermediate level course. Topics covered include the challenges and lessons learned in addressing parents’ mental needs, strategies to engage them in team planning and/or mental health services, and coordinating care across community partners.

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DNA testing for adoptive children

DNA Testing for Adoptive ChildrenThe Red Thread welcomes guest writer Chris Baer.  An adoptive father curious about his son’s medical history and heritage, Baer sought out DNA testing. Here, he writes about why he did it and why he believes all adoptive parents should have their children tested. He also shares some of the major discoveries he made along the way.

Growing up as the youngest of the Baer family clan, I knew what to expect in becoming a Baer: a Roman nose, sharp wits, esoteric interests, and, if the genetic dice rolled badly, my grandfather’s terrifying bipolar disorder.

I also knew what it was to become a Lair, my mother’s family: patience, craftiness, good hair and bad teeth.

Growing up in the Baer Lair (as our mailbox announced) and inheriting an equal, random mix of genes from both sets of parental chromosomes, I had a pretty good idea of what to prepare for.

Full story of DNA testing for adoptive children at The Washington Times

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Mental Health Needs of Adolescents Often Overlooked

Teen Mental Health OverlookedThe vast majority of mental health disorders in adolescents go undiagnosed and untreated, with young people who are African American, LGBT, homeless or under the jurisdiction of the child welfare or juvenile justice system least likely to get the care they need, a leading researcher into child well-being said Thursday.

About 20 percent of all adolescents have some kind of mental health disorder that can be diagnosed, yet between 60 to 90 percent of those young people do not get adequate treatment, said David Murphey, a senior research scientist at the Maryland-based Child Trends research center, emphasizing that more research is needed to pin down the data.

“We’re so reluctant to talk about mental illness as we do about physical illness,” Murphey said, speaking at a discussion on adolescent mental health organized by the nonprofit D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “These labels that we’ve come to apply have unfortunately created stigma around mental illness that is a barrier for many teens and many adults for getting services.”

Full story of teen mental health needs at Youth Today

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Mental health counseling expanded to elementary schools

Mental Health Counseling at ElementaryMilpitas Unified School District continues to be proactive about its intervention, last week approving placement next month for additional mental health counseling days before Friday’s tragic massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Less than one week after the Board of Education approved the ratification of a $104,000 contract with Palo Alto-based non-profit organization Counseling and Support Services for Youth to provide social and emotional support services at six elementary schools (Burnett, Curtner, Pomeroy, Randall, Sinnott and Weller) effective Jan. 7 through June 14 mental illness has become a key issue under the microscope nationwide.

The marriage and family therapists will help students here deal with a variety of issues such as depression, feelings of isolation and anger management through individual and group sessions. The remaining three elementary schools not being serviced through CASSY already have counseling services on site.

Full story of mental health in elementary schools at Mercury News

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Helping Foster Kids Even After Adoption

Helping Foster Kids After AdoptionSay "adoption" and many Americans think "babies." The U.S. system was largely organized around placing infants, both from this country and abroad. It turns out that, by far, the largest number of adoptions in the U.S. is through the foster care system. That means toddlers, young children, even teens.

Yet many in the field say the system does little to help families cope with the special issues a number of these children will face, even years after adoption.

Foster adoptions have nearly doubled since 1997, when a policy change gave states financial incentive to place children with permanent families. The federal government has also waged an aggressive and charming ad campaign, with TV spots reassuring people that they "don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."

Today, more than 50,000 foster children are adopted each year by people like Carlton Hadden and Ronnie Roebuck. The Maryland couple met their son, Phillip, when he was 9, the median age of those adopted from foster care. Since he was a toddler, Phillip had cycled through some 10 different foster placements, twice being abandoned by people who’d planned to adopt him. Roebuck says that early on the boy told them, "I have major issues."

Full story of helping foster kids at NPR.org

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School a struggle for homeless children

School Struggle For Homeless ChildrenStudents wondering where they’re going to sleep at night may have trouble paying attention in class.

In Miami-Dade County, the number of kids without a home is in the thousands and growing.

The county school district counted more than 4,406 students who were homeless in the 2010-11 academic year. In Florida during the past five years, homelessness among public school students ages 5 to 17 jumped 84 percent.

During the 2010-11 school year, the most recent year for which statewide data is available, 56,680 students were reported homeless.

That instability can affect kids’ grades and their emotions in class.

Eleven-year-old David Thomas and his eight siblings used to be included in those statistics.

Full story of homeless children’s academic struggles at The Miami Herald

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National Foster Care Month

National Foster Care MonthEach May, people across the nation recognize National Foster Care Month. It is a time when the experiences of the children and youth in the foster care system, are brought to the forefront and awareness is raised concerning the needs of these children. According to reports, there are currently more than 12,000 children in Missouri that are in the care and custody of the Children’s Division.

According to Alyce Bryant, school nurse at Masterson Elementary School, one of the most urgent needs Dunklin County has is finding enough people who are interested in becoming foster families.

"Right now we’ve got 137 kids that are in foster care and we only have 10 foster parent families. The Division of Family Services always tries to put the kids with a relative or a kinship placement first, if they can find one. Then if they can’t, that’s when they try to do the foster family next," she said, adding, "But, if we don’t have those options, if they don’t have a family member they can be with or a kinship placement or a foster family here is full, then they have to move them out of Dunklin County. So, they have to go to a different county looking for a placement for the kids."

Full story of foster care month at The Daily Dunklin

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