D-08 - Follow the Love – Finding a Permanent Parent for Every Youth in Our Care (Part I of II)   Intermediate

  Preventing Homelessness through Adoption/Guardianship

As there is a greater call for connections, volunteers, resources, mentors, buddies, pals, and others for youth on the verge of aging out of foster care, presenter will be making the case that a lifetime permanent foundational parent and family must be recruiter for every youth before they age out of care in order to prevent their homelessness upon aging out of the system. Presenter will also show how any professional, or other caring adult, in a youth’s life can learn to identify this permanent foundational parent by getting to know the people who love this youth and already in this youth’s life.

Learning Objectives:
1. Will note the need to find permanent parents for every youth in our care in order to prevent their homelessness upon discharge from care. Will highlight the insane child welfare practice where we constantly place teens in need of permanent parents (Square Peg Teens) in programs and placements that are temporary in nature (Round Hole Programs such as traditionally prepared foster parents, therapeutic foster parents, group homes, and residential treatment centers.)
2. Will go over various myths about where the homeless come from.
3. Will discuss how our attitude is the only obstacle to finding permanent parents for any teen in our care.
4. Recruitment: Will show how to find permanent parents for every teen in our care once we have established there is someone out in community who already loves him or her and to team up with that person to recruit this lifetime family using the following approaches:
a) The Friends Approach: How to identify parents from the teenagers very own life cycle of people he or she already knows including relatives.
b) The Acquaintance Approach: How to utilize our parent preparation and training and other methods to get teens and prospective families in the same time and space so that they can meet each other and get to know each other in a real learning environment where the youth are our teachers and consultants.
c) The Community Education Approach: How to do community based education to interest the community at large in the issues of homelessness prevention by providing teens with permanent parents. We will discuss how You Gotta Believe utilizes its parent preparation training in eleven different locations in and around New York City to teach all communities members about this great need. Will also discuss how both our weekly community access television program and our weekly radio forum contribute a great deal to educating the community at large about the plight of older teens in foster care.
d) Using Volunteers and Mentors: How to use volunteers and mentors, in relationship with waiting youth and youth in need of permanent parents, to recruit lifetime parents for an individual teen they are assigned to using all of the above approaches and more including hosting teens at their own family events and escorting teens to recruitment events and to any conference being held on their behalf to discuss their permanency issues.
e) Findings from Dave Thomas Foundation: Will share some important recent findings from the 5 year study the DTFA did on its signature child-focused recruitment effort called Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.