How to Prevent and Survive Them
Allegation Prevention Strategies
Foster and adoptive families who have lots of children, including children of different races, and who have been fostering for a long time are at greater risk of being reported for alleged abuse. All families who care for children with special needs face some risk, and every parent can take steps to keep situations from turning into allegations. Below are some ideas for parents to consider.
- Know your limits. If you are not comfortable handling children with certain challenging backgrounds and behaviors, don’t set yourself up by bringing such children into your home.
- Learn all you can about each child before placement. You have a right to know about previous abuse and allegations. Ask: “Has this child been abused? In what way? Who were the perpetrators? Have there been any abuse allegations?” Had the foster family whose 13-year-old girl charged the grandfather with abuse known about her abuse history, they would never have left the foster grandfather alone with her.
- Make sure that men and boys in your house are never alone with a girl who has been sexually abused. Proactive precautions are very important in this situation, especially at the beginning of the placement. Talk with your partner and others in the household about this safety plan, and stay proactive.
- Give each sexually abused child his or her own bedroom. I know this is difficult, but why put another child in your home at risk? If a child’s boundaries have been invaded, he or she needs to re-learn proper boundaries.
- Be crystal clear about rules for dress, privacy, touching, etc. Caregivers must agree on house rules, boundaries, and consequences. Each child comes from a different culture of parenting, sexuality, sleeping habits, dress, touch, and more, and needs to learn what is appropriate. As a foster mom, I talked about sexuality as one of the house rules. “In this house,” I would say, “my husband gets his sexual needs met with me and only me.” Sound crude? Yes, but I said it in a matter-of-fact way and set a very clear boundary that the teenage girls we worked with really needed.
- Never use physical discipline. Corporal punishment is not allowed in foster care, but I know some folks think that once the kids are adopted, physical discipline is okay. Don’t do it. Children with a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse often misinterpret physical discipline and an allegation is likely. Physical discipline can also undermine attachment.
- Avoid teasing, horseplay, wrestling, and suggestive language. These are acts of intimacy, and intimacy is just what abused children often resist. In addition, the child may get a different message than you intend during the close physical contact involved.
- Document sexual acting out in writing. Send reports to the child’s social worker and therapist. Then, if another incident comes to light, the worker and therapist can see that there might be a pattern to the child’s acting out that perhaps relates to past experiences.
- Document behavior patterns. When a child enters your home, use a calendar to record changes in the child’s behavior; inappropriate words or actions during birth parent visits; the child’s behavior following visits; the cause of scratches, bruises, or other injuries; and any patterns of behavior that seem to follow specific events or times of the year (like anniversaries of certain past events).
- Participate in a support group. As foster and adoptive parents of children with special needs, we need to share the struggles and joys that are a part of our lives with those who can empathize and support us. We need folks who can laugh and cry with us and really understand foster and adoptive parents’ journey.
- Reserve personal time to reduce stress. Know what really pushes your buttons, and establish a calming plan. Post twenty tips on calming on the refrigerator and model stress-reduction techniques for your children. Then, make plans for a weekly – yes, weekly – time away from the children. Take care of yourself; you are the child’s greatest gift!
Allegation Survival Strategies
Sometimes, despite a family’s efforts to prevent them, allegations will happen. Maybe things are going a little too well with Jimmy – a 12-year-old with a history of sexual abuse – and he starts to get scared. The week after a lively game of Twister with his foster dad, Jimmy tells his worker that the foster dad was touching and pressing his body against Jimmy’s. Jimmy claims it was sexual abuse, and soon child protection opens a case file to investigate Jimmy’s allegation.
The foster family is looking at weeks or months of investigation, and Jimmy moves to an emergency shelter. What can the parents do to take care of themselves?
- Try to stay positive. Assume that the charge will be proven false, and try not to presume guilt. Statistics I’ve seen say that about 65 to 70 percent of all allegations are false. Child protection has to investigate to make certain that the child is not being abused. The best thing you can do is cooperate.
- Document everything. Start a notebook to record details of every phone conversation, personal interview, and correspondence related to the allegation. Write in pen, and be prepared to use the notebook to back up your story in court if need be. Request copies of the written charge against your family, as well as the letter that formally states that the allegations were unfounded.
- Educate yourself. Insist on getting a copy of your state’s foster care rules and laws pertaining to allegations and abuse, and learn about county or agency policies and procedures too. Find out what will happen during the investigation, what your rights are, and how you can appeal an investigator’s determination.
- Behave appropriately. During interviews, make your point and then stop talking. Speak with confidence, and be factual, honest, respectful, and businesslike. Avoid emotional language when telling your side of the story. It may be extremely hard, but you must try to be objective.
- Meet with people who are gathering information. If an investigator asks to meet with you, don’t keep her waiting. If you need to, bring along a friend or someone from your support group who can give you perspective on how the meeting went.
- Communicate with your partner. Allegations, especially those of sexual abuse, can really drive a wedge between partners. The husband thinks, “How could they think I would do something like that?!” The wife wonders, “Could it possibly be true?!” If not openly discussed, these questions can pull couples apart just when they need each other’s support the most.
- Know your rights. Don’t be afraid to appeal, request a waiver, and learn how the grievance procedure works. If need be, hire legal counsel. I would especially recommend hiring a good attorney for sexual abuse allegations.
What Support Groups Can Do to Help
In addition to counseling new foster and adoptive families about taking conscious steps to prevent allegations, support groups can be very helpful when a family is going through or has just concluded an allegation investigation. Sometimes, the best help is just being there. To support family members who are going through an investigation, a support group can:
- Offer a sympathetic ear. This is a time when families really need the support group! Make them feel welcome by respectfully listening.
- Stay neutral.It is not the group’s job to fix the problem. There are many sides to the story, and the group should be objective. Agency bashing helps no one.
- Share information. Encourage members to talk about their experiences with allegations, and share local allegation policy and procedural information with the entire group.
- Suggest resources. Direct the family to legal services and suggest how they can obtain agency policies concerning allegations.
- Assign a mentor. Parents going through an allegation may have an easier time talking to one person who has experienced an allegation rather than the whole group. A call from someone who can say, “I’ve walked the walk,” can mean so much during this time.
After the investigation is over, ask for help to regain your equilibrium, rebuild, and move on. Take really good care of yourself. Think hard and give yourself some time off before bringing a child back into your home, or accepting another placement. Take care of the children still in the home. Difficult times can be therapeutic and healing, showing children that we can have tough times, but as families, we are strong and resilient. If you can’t prevent an allegation, at least do what you can to survive, learn, and thrive.
Original Article via Foster Parent Journal
Kansas Care Providers of the Month
Mary Fulghum has been a foster parent with TFI for 3 years. Mary provides respite care for other foster parents and temporary care for children who need a bed for a night or two. Mary’s calm and patient personality works wonders with the high needs placements she takes. Mary communicates effectively with her worker, the children’s workers, and other foster parents. Mary is well-known to admission staff because of the great help she has been. Mary is constantly recruiting foster parents and educating others on the need for foster parents. It is evident by her actions that Mary cares a great deal about supporting children and foster parents in her community. Thank you for all you do for children and families, Mary!
Training Opportunities for Nebraska Families:
2/11/18- “Ages and Stages” Training for Foster Families will be held in our Kearney Office from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
2/17/18 and 3/3/18- Right Turn will be presenting a training called “A Step Farther” in our Kearney office from 9:30-3:30 both days.
Please contact your worker, Krysta Kaiser, for more information or to register for these training opportunities. As a reminder, each family is required to have at least 12 hours of training per foster parent each year of their license. Thank you
Between Families Recruitment Moment
Hello TFI Foster Families
Our Ambassador Program is off to a blazing start. I would like to thank all the families that have participated to date. Starting next month we will be acknowledging all the families who have achieved the next level in their program. As a reminder, all families who are licensed/certified will start out on the Silver Level of our program. Any family that you refer who becomes a licensed/certified home with TFI will result in a $500 incentive to the referring family pending they are in good status with TFI.
TFI needs you !! Our Foster Families are our best recruiter. We know that by keeping you happy and providing you with stellar customer service from your TFI worker that you will refer more families to help our TFI kids. We are once again challenging ALL of our TFI families to refer just ONE new family to become a new TFI Foster Family. Just think – that would be over 700 NEW foster families for our kids.
Thank you for all you do for kids and happy Recruiting !!
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When it comes to parenting children, there’s a big difference between punishment and discipline. When children make mistakes, they rely on parental intervention to help guide and teach them. However, the various approaches parents take to intervene can make a big difference in a child’s ability to learn from their mistakes.
The objective of discipline is to promote behaviors beneficial to the child’s development and welfare and to change and/or eliminate behaviors, which are injurious to his or her well-being. Therefore, we encourage positive discipline as the most important aspect of child rearing practices for children and youth who are placed in the care of TFI Family Connections LLC.
Positive discipline, when used for purposes of guiding and teaching the child, provides the child encouragement, a sense of satisfaction, and helps the child understand the consequences of his/her behavior. Effective, positive discipline imposes behavioral limitations on the child which can provide the child a sense of security, engender a respect for order, and effectively enlists the child’s help rather than locking the child and adult into a power struggle or adversary, punishing relationship, and promotes the child’s discovery of those values that will be of the greatest benefit to the child, both now and in the future.
There are laws that protect adults against actions, which many children must endure and suffer under the guise of discipline. Many children who are in the care of OKDHS have previously suffered too much physical pain, fear, humiliation, and emotional stress. We cannot perpetuate this when we assume the positive roles in our child-rearing practices of which positive discipline is an essential part.
Therefore TFI Family Connections LLC does not view as positive, acceptable discipline any action administered in a fashion, which may cause any child to suffer physical, psychological or emotional pain; any form of corporal punishment; use of aversive stimuli; withholding nutrition or hydration; forced exercise to eliminate behavior; punitive work assignment; punishment by peers; or group punishment/discipline for individuals. While the foregoing statement is not all-inclusive in terms of unacceptable forms of discipline, it does provide a guideline for the establishment of the following statement of policy.
It shall be the policy of TFI Family Connections LLC that we not utilize or continue to utilize resource providers who use disciplinary acts which cause pain such as hitting, beatings, shaking, cursing, threatening, binding, closeting, prolonged isolation, denial of meals, and derogatory remarks about the child or his/her family.
Adam and Kristina Nofsinger are a family out of Bartlesville with four biological children and four foster children in the home. Each time the Foster Care Workers have visited another foster home in the Bartlesville area they talk about how helpful the Nofsinger’s have been to them throughout the process. They shared that the Nofsinger’s are mentors to several families in Bartlesville and that families are constantly going to them for resources and advice. The Nofsinger’s have accompanied other families to difficult court dates to be a support to them. They take great care of the children in their home. They have managed difficult behaviors successfully and have integrated each of the four foster children into the home. They have allowed them to have their own identities as well as be a part of the family unit. Kristina especially seeks out information and resources not only for her home but for other foster homes as well. Thank you for being a great part of the TFI Family!
As a reminder, there are certain trainings which must be completed yearly. We offer these training just about every month. These training are:
On-line trainings which must be completed annually are:
Medical Consent Training
Mandated Abuse and Neglect Reporting – Annual
Trauma Informed Care
Contact your worker for information on how to sign up.
Gerald and Nicole Stewart
Blake and Kathryn “Kathy” Henry
Michael “Mike” and Troy Grimes / Dannels
Brent and Jenny Stone / Prater
Brandon and Phoebe Newman
Kenneth and Keshia Thompson
TFI has the following grant funding available to assist foster children and foster families. Please speak with your foster care worker for more information:
Pritchett Trust: Funds available to foster children placed in Crawford County, KS for the purchase of musical instruments and music lessons.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a lung disorder that interferes with breathing. It involves chronic inflammation, swelling, and narrowing of the bronchial tubes that carry air to the lungs. Inflammation causes the narrowing of tubes. The inflamed tissues produce an excess amount of “sticky” mucus into the tubes. The mucus can clump together and form “plugs” that can clog the smaller airways. Some cells may be damaged and shed into the airways, contributing to the narrowing. The bronchial narrowing is usually reversible with treatments. Bronchial tubes that are chronically inflamed may become overly sensitive to allergens (triggers) or irritants. The airways may become and remain in a state of heightened sensitivity. This is called “bronchial hyperreactivity”. The muscles around the bronchial tubes tighten during an asthma attack. This is called “bronchospasm”. This can be brought on by inhaling cold or dry air.
Asthma affects one in every 15 children. Five percent of adults are also affected by asthma. The number of new cases and the yearly rate of hospitalization for asthma have increased about 30% over the past 20 years.
Who Gets Asthma?
Asthma occurs at any age, but it usually develops during childhood from 2-6 years of age. Those at risk include people with allergies or a family history of asthma. Children who have a parent with asthma have a 3-6 times higher risk. Asthma is more common in boys during childhood but in women during adulthood.
Types of Asthma
Allergic: 90% of all cases of asthma and develops during childhood with a family history of allergies. Often goes into remission in early adulthood but may reappear later.
Nonallergic: 10% of all cases of asthma and develops after age 30, not associated with allergies. Seems to follow a respiratory tract infection, and often is chronic.
Mold, dust, mites, cockroaches, pollen from trees and flowers, foods, additives, pets, air pollution, exercise, weather, latex, tobacco smoke, household chemicals, emotions
Mild Intermittent: Attacks no more than twice a week and nighttime attacks no more than twice a week. Attacks last no more than a few hours to days. Severity varies
Mild Persistent: Attacks more than twice a week, but not every day. Nighttime symptoms more than twice a month, sometimes severe but does not interrupt regular activities
Moderate Persistent: Daily attacks and nighttime symptoms more than once a week. More severe attacks occur at least twice a week and may last for days. Usually require daily use of quick-relief medication and changes in daily activities
Severe Persistent: Includes severe attacks, continual daytime symptoms, and frequent nighttime symptoms. May require limits on daily activities
Wheezing, coughing that won’t stop, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, inability to talk without stopping for breath, fearful or confusion
Limit triggers in the home by keeping plants outside, washing bedclothes and pajamas weekly, eliminate or reduce carpets or rugs, dust regularly, minimize stuffed toys, keep pets outside. Control emotional triggers by taking a long deep breath in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth. Count to 10. Talk with a friend to calm down or do a relaxing activity.
When to Seek Emergency Care
Too breathless to walk or talk, fingernails and lips look blue, using an inhaler does not help. Ignoring these signs puts someone with asthma at risk for a life-threatening asthma reaction called status asthmaticus. Until medical help arrives, help the person stay calm and sit comfortably. Loosen tight clothing around the neck and abdomen and keep the person from getting chilled or overheated.
Bronchodilators/inhalers reduce inflammation and relax the bronchospasm. There are some tablets and liquid medications, but these have more side effects and take longer to take effect. There are 2 forms of asthma medications:
- Long-term—prevents or reverses inflammation in the airway, decreases sensitivity, works slowly. Controls asthma over many hours, taken daily.
- Quick relief—rescue medication—used to stop an asthma attack, works quickly to relieve sudden swelling. Called a “short-acting bronchodilators”.
- Inhaled with metered dose inhaler
- Dry powder inhaler
- Small volume nebulizer
- Pill and liquid form
Asthma Action Plan
An action plan or management plan is a written plan that is developed by a doctor to help control asthma. The plan will identify triggers, list daily medications, and outline what to do when there is a flare-up, and when to call the doctor or go to the emergency room. All the people who care for the child should know the asthma action plan.
- Asthma interferes with breathing involving _________________, _________________, and _____________ of the bronchial tubes.
- _____________ ___________ ____________ is a condition when airways become and remain in a heightened sensitivity.
- What is a bronchospasm?
- What type of asthma represents 90% of all cases?
- There are four classifications of asthma. Which ones require daily medication and changes in activities?
- What is a quick relief or emergency medication?
- When should you call 911?
- What should you do until emergency help arrives?
Devin Eccles, LBSW-MSW
TFI Family Services
Foster Care Supervisor (Parsons/Independence)