It takes a village

In my preceding post, I wrote about my art therapy work with a child in foster care. In fact, more than one Christmas went by during this child’s time in foster care, and, along with the child and her parent, many people worked really hard to help make change happen. Here’s a list of the people on the team that worked to send this child home for Christmas this year:

  • Foster parent
  • Case worker
  • Case supervisor
  • Sociotherapist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Art therapist
  • Clinical administrator
  • Psychologist
  • Speech and language pathologist
  • Educational specialist
  • Educational coordinator
  • School personnel
  • Hospital personnel
  • Child’s attorney
  • Child’s law guardian
  • Birth mother’s attorney
  • Agency’s attorney
  • Housing specialist
  • ACS case worker

A lot of people, right? Here are some of the things they did:

  • Parented the child by providing for physical, emotional, and behavioral needs.
  • Coordinated all aspects of services and case planning.
  • Gathered history.
  • Formed a bond with child and with birth mother to create a feeling of trust and safety and facilitate progress.
  • Oversaw all social work, clinical, educational, and legal aspects of the case.
  • Documented everything with intake forms, quarterly summaries, progress notes.
  • Coordinated weekly family visits.
  • Attended various meetings re: planning, birth mother’s progress, emotional and behavioral concerns, educational concerns.
  • Consulted with the case workers for the other four siblings.
  • Visited the foster home weekly to work with foster parent and child to develop a behavior management plan.
  • Performed psychiatric evaluations and made recommendations for services and medication.
  • Provided monthly medication monitoring.
  • Met with child for weekly therapy.
  • Provided crisis intervention.
  • Performed psychological evaluations and made service recommendations.
  • Performed speech and language evaluations and made service recommendations.
  • Performed educational evaluations and made service recommendations.
  • Coordinated with school to monitor academic progress and behavioral problems.
  • Assisted birth mother in obtaining housing.
  • Represented child’s legal interests.
  • Represented birth mom’s legal interests.
  • Represented agency’s legal interests.
  • Oversaw all aspects of the agency’s casework.

A lot goes on behind the scenes, so I know I’ve left out some people and omitted some of the millions of things they did. For example, people inside and outside the agency provided services for mom (parenting classes, rehab, therapy). I also should mention the emotional toll of making hard decisions in a child’s interests when there are no good options and a dearth of good resources and services. But I think this gives a good idea of the huge support needed to help make change in one child’s life.

If you are interested in learning more about the foster care system and the myriad moral and practical dilemmas involved, there’s no better book than To The End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, by Cris Beam. Here’s the NYTimes review.