A Message to Caregivers and Caseworkers
Youth in foster care or kinship care often have experienced abuse, neglect, chaotic living situations, and placement(s) away from their families. Their histories can lead to complicated emotions and behaviors, and many experience trauma. While youth can heal, often it will take small steps over time with stability, supports, and services.
To better understand the needs of these children, The National Resource Center for Youth Development hosted the Young Adults Training and Technical Assistance Network. Below are the findings from the training.
A Message from Youth to Caregivers and Caseworkers
It is important for us to know that the adults in our lives care about us and are working together with us to act in our best interests. We need support and encouragement to understand the issues we are facing and to seek the help we need. But we also want to be heard and want to have a say in decisions being made. Here is what is most important to us:
- Ask us what we think and want. If there is something we are not happy about, or we are doing something you might not advise (like dropping out of counseling), take time to understand why, rather than fighting against us.
- We don’t always know what is best for us, but when our opinion is paired with those who have expertise in certain areas, the outcome will be better.
- Engage with us about our needs, but use language we can understand. Take time to explain things to us, like what certain medications do, what our diagnosis means, etc. Do it in a way that is not intimidating or stigmatizing.
- Ask us if we want you to go with us to any of our appointments or need support, and then make the time to do so. Ask questions like: “Do you want me to come with you?” “Do you know how appointments like this work?” or “Do you know how to fill out the forms?”
- We want to feel safe in uncomfortable situations. If you can’t take us to an appointment, and the agency is going to arrange for a driver, make sure we’re comfortable with this. Work with us to come up with a better solution if we’re not feeling okay about it.
- If we aren’t following the treatment plan, talk with us about how we’re feeling. Maybe we don’t feel we’re benefiting from therapy or medication. Or maybe we’re afraid of medications. Or maybe we don’t want to attend “traditional” therapy and prefer another way for working through our issues.
- Please don’t make us feel like we are the problem.
- Even after we turn 18, we may want your support, advice, and guidance. We may still want you to go with us to some appointments. Stay connected with us and help us understand how important it is to keep on top of our medical and mental health needs.
- We might fight against something if we are not informed and are struggling with trust. Do everything you can to see things from our perspective and personal background. We just want to be cared for, cared about, and heard.
To read this complete report, visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/mhc_caregivers.pdf