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Month of Prayer, Week 5: The power of the Church

Posted by | Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Resources and Awareness | No Comments

As our Month of Prayer comes to a close, we would like to thank Megan Roberts for all her help on this blog! Read Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 posts here on how we can help and pray for our city.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” –James 1:27

The Church is the institution God uses to show who His people are and a crucial part of how the love of God is demonstrated to a hurting world. The Church creates disciples who teach and obey Christ, and here, in James 1:27, we find exactly what kind of obedience God is after.

Praise God for the 15 churches who are currently partnering with DC127 and for the ways that we have seen God move through these churches to care for the vulnerable in the city.

This week we are praying for the churches who have already started partnering with DC127 and for more churches to join in their efforts. DC127 recognizes the power of the Church and believes that, if united, the Church could tangibly change the way things operate for children and families in the District.

This week will you prayer that the churches of DC will:

  • Care for children in foster care, single mothers, and other vulnerable families in our city in part by bringing new churches into the DC127 movement
  • Make disciples who open their homes and create cultures in their community where people who have been marginalized are welcomed and accepted
  • Find favor with the people of this city, including governing officials, that the work of DC127 might be more easily accomplished
  • Support those families among them seeking to host, foster, or adopt, and those that have fostered or adopted already

Here are some resources to learn more:

Watch an 8-minute video on why caring for children in foster care is the responsibility of the church.

Hear our keynote speaker from One City. One Hope 2014 cast a vision for what could happen in Washington, DC when the churches unite.

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Month of Prayer, Week 4: Praying for Social Workers

Posted by | Blog, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families | No Comments

This month we’ve been taking time to pray for different pieces of the child welfare system. Thank you again to Megan Roberts who has volunteered to write these and lead us this month!

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:17

Social workers are those professionals that help facilitate and advocate for the welfare of the vulnerable. DC127 regularly interacts with social workers who refer families to Safe Families, who help facilitate our families’ interactions with public services and welfare, and who advocate for and partner with us on an ongoing basis. Social workers also serve foster families and ensure they have what they need to care for the children in their home. Social workers are the glue that keeps the child welfare system together.

As we work alongside social workers in the DC region, we ask that you partner with us in praying for these professionals in the following ways:

  • That God would call more people to the field of social work, and equip them with the professional and relational resources to make impactful change in their communities
  • That God would prevent burnout in existing social workers, specifically for DC Child and Family Services Agency workers and DC social workers at various agencies, providing them with life-giving activities outside of work and healthy work-life balances
  • That God would bless social workers’ interactions with their clients and government officials, that the needs of their clients would be met in God-glorifying ways

Interested in learning more about how the church can work with and serve social workers?

And then check out these videos:

 

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Month of Prayer, Week 3: Keeping Families Together

Posted by | Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:4

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” – Ephesians 3:14-16

Keeping Families Together 

God created the family in His image, and what hurts the family hurts God. From Genesis to Revelation, we see the ways that God designed the family to be a place of human flourishing.

Unfortunately, there are serious obstacles facing the unity of families today. Poverty and hunger make it difficult for many parents to adequately care for their children, and over 17,000 DC families accepted TANF assistance in 2014. This and other factors drive up the number of children in group homes – situations that can cost up to ten times more to raise each child in then it would cost to raise them in a single-family home.

Despite these challenges, God offers hope. In Revelation, He tells John that He is preparing a kingdom where all things will be made new – a kingdom unaffected by poverty, hunger, sickness, or death. A kingdom formed of one, insoluble, family.

This week, will you join us in praying:

  • That we – the church in DC – would be able to help prevent the breakup of families by foster care, and shine a beam of that perfect kingdom into a very broken world.
  • That parents struggling to care for their children would have access the resources needed to keep their children happy and healthy, and their families together.
  • That there will be an increase in affordable housing in the District, and that the thousands of families struggling to pay rent or find a safe place to live will get the help they need. Pray also for protection and an increase in the valuable benefits DC families need to survive.
  • That more volunteers will step up to care for struggling families. Pray for more Host Homes to temporarily care for children to give parents space to strengthen their families, and for an increase in other Safe Families volunteer roles so that parents get the help they need.
  • That marriages in impoverished communities would strengthen, that husbands and wives would care for each other, and that both would care for the children in their charge.
  • That single parents in the District will get be connected to a supportive community. Pray especially for single parents who are living in poverty and struggling to care for their children and strengthen their family alone.
  • That children put into foster care would be able to be reunited with their families. Pray that while children are in care they would be able to maintain a connection with their parents and families. Pray for foster parents to know how to support and strengthen those bonds.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

Watch a 4-minute story from a foster dad on how God taught him the importance of loving a child’s biological family.

And here’s a 7-minute video from the Executive Director the national Safe Families for Children network on why prevention work is so important.

Thank you Megan Roberts for her help on this blog!

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Month of Prayer, Week 2: For children in foster care and the families caring for them

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Mentoring | No Comments

Last week, we prayed for our city, asking that the church steps up for vulnerable children and families. This week, join us in praying for the children in foster care and the families who care for them. Thanks to DC127 Church Coordinator Megan Roberts for writing the blog!

For the children in foster care and those caring for them:

In DC alone, around 1,000 children and teens are living in foster care and over 100 of these children need to be adopted. DC is also currently facing a shortage of foster homes to care for these children.

In DC, 95% of children in the foster care system are African American, compared to 24% nationally, reflecting incredible disproportionality. As we pray for foster care in DC, let’s not forget we must also pray and advocate for racial justice in the systems that affect these children’s lives.

In Matthew 18, as Jesus’ disciples ask him who the greatest in the Kingdom is. Jesus uses a child to remind us that in heaven, those who humble themselves, not those who seek exultation, will be considered the greatest. He makes this bold declaration:

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”

This week, will you join us in praying for:

  • Families currently fostering or in the licensing process: Pray that they would find the resources they need to foster or adopt and care for children well. Pray that God continually provides the strength, support, and resources they need to thrive. Pray that churches would be strong sources of support for families.
  • 
The children in foster care: Pray that each child would receive the comfort of Christ, and that their stay in foster care will be short. Pray that children will be reunified with their families, and for the children who need to be adopted, pray that an adoptive home is found quickly.
  • New families created through adoption and foster care: Pray that God will bind them together and they would be full of Christ-like love, joy, and peace.
  • More foster and adoptive homes: Pray for more people to step up to foster and adopt from foster care until there are enough homes for every child, and pray that the churches of Washington, DC will be able to support these families.
  • For justice in the systems surrounding foster care: Pray for other government systems to uplift and care for the poor.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

 

Watch a powerful 4-minute video from performance poet Shaun Welcome, sharing stories of children in foster care:

 

Watch four successful college graduates talk about their lives post foster care and the advice they have for current kids in the foster care system:

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Month of Prayer, Week 1: Praying for our City

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children | No Comments

DC127 is a movement of churches that believes God has called us to care for children in foster care and children at-risk of entering care. We also believe that we won’t be able to do any of this unless we rely on God.

Like last year, we’re going to mark the month of February as a month of prayer. We’ll be posting blogs each Wednesday that cover a different topic and invite you to pray with us for our city, kids in or at-risk of foster care, their families and the families who care for them, and for churches to respond in love and action. You can sign up here to get a reminder when the blog is posted. We also want to thank our amazing Church Coordinator, Megan Roberts, for writing these posts.

Praying for our City

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

1,500 children are at risk of entering foster care and receiving in-home services in Washington, DC. Around 1,000 children are currently in foster care. Nationally, over 415,000 children are in foster care, and over 110,000 of those children are waiting to be adopted.

The numbers are staggering. These statistics paint a dire picture for the most vulnerable in our city- those children at risk of losing a family, those mothers raising children by themselves in precarious circumstances.  As Christians, we are called to look after the vulnerable and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. We live in a fallen world with broken cities where families are separated or unable able to provide for their needs. While we live in a fallen world, we know we are called to a higher purpose: to follow a God that is merciful and just who cares for the vulnerable and calls us to follow Him.

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Believers in our city and around the world: Pray we will look after those who are vulnerable and advocate for the marginalized in our cities.
  •  Those who are in distress in Washington, DC: There are 1,491 homeless families in DC, and many more living in poverty and crisis. Pray God would comfort each of them and provide relief. Pray that our city’s leaders will represent them and affect change on their behalf. Pray for an increase in jobs and resources available to these families to help them stabilize their families.
  • The professionals who serve in social services in DC: Serving in social services can mean long, hard and emotional days. Pray that these workers will get rest and relief, and pray that the organizations and systems they work in will operate to the benefit of the vulnerable in our city.
  •  Churches: Pray churches would be a light in a broken world and at the forefront of caring for those in need. Pray for increased partnership between churches and city agencies. Pray that social workers can come to rely on churches to care for those in need and to help them as they serve our city.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

 

Hear our keynote speaker from One City. One Hope. 2014 cast a vision for what could happen in Washington, D.C. when the churches unite:

 

Hear from Dr. Sharen Ford on why the government needs the church to cross the aisle, learn about child welfare system, and serve children in foster care:

 

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Where do hope, joy, peace, and love fit in places of pain?

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

Hope. Joy. Peace. Love.

We talk about these four words a lot during the Christmas and Advent season. While they absolutely contribute to the warm, fuzzy, Christmas-movie feelings I love to have, they also read as a challenge. In the context of Christ’s birth and where we find ourselves as God’s people, it’s been helpful for me to remember just how radical these words really are.stocksnap_96rtp23cu4

DC127 exists because there are children spending this Christmas season (and the months after it) without a family or away from their home. We exist because there are parents struggling to keep their children out of foster care in the face of poverty, homelessness, and crisis. We exist because in the past two weeks alone, we’ve gotten calls from 6 single moms who are struggling to keep their children home – moms who love their children, but can’t do this alone.

When I think about the challenges facing these mothers, their children, and the children in DC’s foster care system, having hope, feeling joy and love, and being at peace is hard. Where do these four simple words fit in places of brokenness, systemic injustice, and so much pain?

This is when these words become radical, because they ask you to go against everything you see in front of you. We have to make an active choice to believe them. The Advent season is a reminder that Christ’s birth and the promise He brings is the reason for our hope, joy, peace, and love.

Maybe we should change it: Active Hope. Active Joy. Active Peace. Active Love.

Despite the pain and brokenness we see, perhaps:
Active hope is a call to action, believing things will change and staying discontent with the status quo.
Active joy is not letting despair win out, even when we feel stuck and without a path.
Active peace remembers that we serve a God bigger than the injustice we see.
Active love is doing the hard work of loving our neighbor despite differences, and carrying their burdens not in charity but in true relationship.

This isn’t always easy to remember, but as I think about the last year with DC127, I think about the many people in our network who demonstrate what it means to live out active hope, joy, love, and peace.

I think about the foster parents who stepped out not only to care for a child, but to love his mother and siblings as well. I think about the team who wrapped around a single mom of four, ensuring she had support and also bringing her into their church community and showing her the peace of Christ.stocksnap_76kvxq6tjy

I think about the ways many of you have supported DC127’s families through babysitting, donating diapers, or bringing joy through a meal:

  • the babysitter who spent the night at a foster home to give them some sleep,
  • the Host Home who picked up a child late at night after a house fire,
  • the couple who generously sent diapers, wipes, and clothes all across the city to support foster and host homes.

I think about each of you who have invested financially in DC127, and who have invested in the future hope of a city where no child waits for a home.

There are too many stories to list here. Thank you for the ways you’ve loved and shown peace to DC this year. I pray as you go through the Advent season you see the active hope, joy, love, and peace of Christ in your life.

Merry Christmas!

-Chelsea Geyer

DC127 Executive Director

Giving Thanks: Finding the Blessings in the Challenges of Serving Others

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Supporting Families | No Comments

By: Amy Hammond

fullsizerenderThanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

Don’t get me wrong: I love celebrating the birth of our Savior and the renewing of faith that it brings each December… as well as the promise of redemption that comes alongside Easter Sunday. But Thanksgiving, to me, is a reminder to celebrate one of the most important tenets of walking in a life of faith: gratitude.

I have nice clothes, a safe home and a dependable car. I’ve been blessed with a devoted husband, a loving family and a supportive church community. These are all gifts I thank God regularly for giving me.

But what about my calling—my ministry? Am I thankful for the acts of service God has called me to?

As a foster mother, I’ll be the first to confirm that the things He asks of us are not always easy. From blow-torching lead paint off the walls in preparation for getting our license, to the equally fiery battle faced every day in advocating for the kids I serve—this is far from an easy job.

Particularly when it is time to let go.

My husband and I had a little boy placed with us in July at just a few weeks old. He was so tiny… and so sick. We spent many sleepless nights trying to understand this little one’s needs. One very specific feeding protocol and doses of medication later, this tiny guy has blossomed into a strong, happy and healthy six-month-old. He lights up when we walk into a room, and snuggles against our chests when he’s ready to sleep. As young as he is, he has grown to understand that he can trust us to take care of him. People who are not his family. People who—as is the case for many foster children—he might never have seen again once home with his family.

img_5468That’s why, as hard as we’ve worked to get to this point with this little human, we’ve worked twice as hard to show the same love toward his family, too. It started with letters and baked goods on visitation days, and has transformed into something much more. We’ve been invited to celebrate birthdays and graduations. A new house. And soon, even in the midst of loss we are bound to feel, we will also celebrate the reunion of this child we have come to adore with his wonderful mother.

Don’t get me wrong: Relationship is messy. It has meant forging new territory, all while trusting that the promptings we hear come from God. We are following where He is leading us in loving on this family, even when it might feel foreign to everyone involved.

Throughout this journey, people have shown us gratitude. They thank us constantly for what we do, for the sacrifice we must be willing to make. But the truth is, we don’t have to do this… we get to do this.

Matthew 20:28 says, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I have served this baby boy and his family, not for earthly recognition or eternal reward, but because this is not my life. It is His breath in my lungs, so I live God’s gift in a way that honors the One who gave it. Serving His children is such a blessing to me, and a calling I am incredibly thankful for.

There are moments in serving when you know unequivocally that God walks alongside you. His love for us is evident in the blessings that overwhelm by their magnitude, those bigger than you ever thought to pray for.family-pic

Two weeks ago this beautiful little one’s strong and selfless mother asked us to be his godparents.

Even as I was mourning the end of this season, God was still writing the story.

There’s a question my church asks often: Are you putting a period where God has put a comma? With this holiday quickly approaching, I beg you to pray about the story He’s writing for you right now. Let’s look at the struggle with gratitude, as this is the gorgeous mess He’s using to mold us. Let’s give thanks that He is the savior of the world, and He carries that world—and all of us, so precious in His sight—within His capable hands.

Amy is a foster parent in Washington, DC. She and her husband, Adam, have cared for 4 children in foster care over the last year. 

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#GivingDay : Will you help spread the word?

Posted by | Blog, Resources and Awareness, Supporting Families | No Comments

Hey friends,

Giving Day 2016 is coming up on November 3rd! And we’re getting really excited.

At some point in time, someone told you about DC127. And before that someone told that person, and before them someone else shared about DC127, and so on. That’s how a network works. YOU spread the word. You share with another person at your church or in friend group. You are the one who keeps it growing. DC127 has only grown because people like you have helped spread the word.

And today, we need to share about DC127 more than ever.

Will you help us spread the word about Giving Day and invite your friends, family, and coworkers to join you in caring for DC’s children and families? Will you invite them to also invest in finding homes for children and support for families in crisis?Charli instagram pic

You might be surprised by what happens.

Can I tell you a quick story about what happens when people tell their friends about DC127?

We had a volunteer for Foster the City, one of our first events. Let’s call her Courtney. Courtney invited her housemates to also volunteer at Foster the City. These new volunteers believed in what DC127 was doing. So they took it back to their church. They introduced it to their pastors and their congregation, and their church became a partner church. Because Courtney shared DC127 with her housemates, a new church joined the DC127 network and they recruited volunteers, Host Homes, and helped spread the word to other churches.

We’ve only grown because people just like you have helped us spread the word.

Last year, you helped us raise $30,000. This year our goal is $40,000. We can do this, but only with your help. When you invite your friends to give on Giving Day, you’re helping us raise more money to find more families for children and support for families in crisis. You’re ensuring that we raise the funds we need to keep going and to keep growing. You’re equipping DC127 to reach out to more churches, find more volunteers, and ensure that we keep going until every child has a home.

Will you help make Giving Day a success?

Here are three ways you can be a Giving Day champion:

  1. Email 10 friends, share why you care about DC127, and invite them to give on November 3rd. If you send the list of names and emails you contact to info@dc127.org, we’ll track how much YOU raise. You can also set a personal goal ask people to contribute towards it. Find sample emails here.
  2. Post on Facebook once a week until November 3rd, and twice on the 3rd. (Sample posts below!)
  3. Tweet 5 reasons why you care about #GivingDay and invite your followers to join you. (Sample tweets below!)

Check out the sample posts and tweets at the bottom of this blog and click here for sample emails.Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.34.18 AM

I know it can be scary to ask people to donate. But when you invite your friends to support DC127 on Giving Day, you’re giving them the chance to invest in the lives of families and kids in DC.

If you have any questions at all, you can email us at info@dc127.org or call us at 202-670-1145.

Will you help make Giving Day a success by sharing the day with your friends and family?

Thank you for being part of this network and for believing with us that Washington, DC can be a place where every child has a home.

Best,

Chelsea, DC127 Executive Director

P.S. The Prospect is hosting a happy hour for us from 6-9pm on November 12th to celebrate. You should come (and invite all your friends)!

Click here to get pre-written emails to share

Facebook Posts

Hey friends – I’m part of a movement in Washington, DC called @DC127. On November 3rd, they are hosting their annual Giving Day. Would you take a second and learn more about it? When you donate to DC127, you help build bridges between families in crisis and the support they need. Learn more and read about a mom named Aniya here: http://bit.ly/2ehxUky

I think every kid deserves a family. And we all know it takes a village. Today in DC, there are kids who don’t have a family and families who need help. Will you join me and support @DC127 on their Giving Day to find families for kids and get DC families the help they need? http://bit.ly/2ehxUky

Today is @DC127’s Giving Day! When you donate, you build a bridge between families at-risk of being separated by foster care and the support they need. I’d be honored if, as my friend, you invested in a movement I care so much about: http://bit.ly/2epfXgb

Tweets!

Send this Tweet:I’m part of @reversethelist because every child deserves a home. Help me make their work possible? #GivingDay http://ow.ly/I5uy305hdEU

Send this Tweet: #DC can be a city where EVERY child has a home. You can make this possible. @reversethelist  #GivingDay #fostercare http://ow.ly/OG8D305he9C

Send this Tweet: Today I’m supporting @reversethelist so families get the help they need to stay together. Join me? #GivingDay http://ow.ly/VONV305her1

Send this Tweet: Nothing will change for kids in #DC unless we act. Join me today for kids in #fostercare- #GivingDay @reversethelist  http://ow.ly/7W6s305heS4

Send this Tweet: Struggling families should have access to the help they need to stay together. @reversethelist  #SafeFamilies http://ow.ly/KPhW305heWK

Send this Tweet: I’m part of @reversethelist . Check out their work  (http://ow.ly/cLuV305hf1Z) & make it happen on #GivingDay http://ow.ly/tg6V305hf3c

 

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Giving Day 2016 is coming up! Read Aniya’s story and why we need you

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

**BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Your donation on Giving Day can be matched! Thanks to a few generous donors, every gift made will be matched, dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000! Click here to donate and double your impact.**

Hello,

We have a big day coming up – a day where we absolutely, 100% need you: November 3rd is our 2016 Giving Day.

Giving Day is one-day, online campaign where we’re asking each of you to give what you can towards finding homes for children in foster care and supporting families in crisis.

I want to tell you a quick story about one of those families.

We recently got a call from Aniya. Aniya is a single mom who loves her son but is currently homeless. Not too long ago, she even had to lie about waiting for a doctor in the hospital so her son could sleep safely in the waiting room. Aniya is a veteran. She is da2dc528-5954-4ed3-b60b-0328e396e97a (1)working hard to get back on her feet. She’s in a jobs program, and making strides. But she can’t do it alone. Aniya deserves to get the help she needs to keep her son out of foster care. We believe this is what the church is good at. And this is what Giving Day on November 3rd is all about.

On November 3rd, will you invest in DC127 and create the bridge between Aniya’s family and a supportive community who can help her reach her goals?
(Sign up to get a personal reminder here)

Last year on Giving Day, you raised $30,000. This year, our goal is to hit $40,000. This money will allow us to continue recruiting foster homes so children have stable places to live and to continue providing supportive communities to families like Aniya’s. We think you’re reading this blog because you agree that children deserve to grow up in a home and have a family. Giving Day is a chance for you to help ensure that every child in DC has the chance to grow up in a stable family.

When you give on Giving Day, you’ll be equipping us to reach out to more churches, recruit more foster homes, and find more volunteers who are willing to walk with parents like Aniya.

It costs us $28 to train one Safe Families Host Home, $46 to present to a new church, $75 to present valuable information to about 6 prospective foster families, $100 to cover the entire intake process for one family in crisis and the list goes on (you can see the whole list here). The moral of the story is that when you give any amount, you are tangibly investing in the lives of children and families in DC. You are making sure that kids in foster care have homes to go to and that when a single mom like Aniya feels like she’s run out of options, she has somewhere to call.

When you give on November 3rd, you’re investing in children and families in DC.

We have a big vision. We are asking you to donate because you share our vision that Washington, DC can be a place where every child has a home and families get that support they need to stay together. We are asking you to donate because you, like us, refuse to let parents like Aniya live in isolation.

IMG_6348 (1)Will you give on our November 3rd Giving Day and create the bridge between families like Aniya’s and the communities in our churches that will help her thrive?

You can click here to pledge a gift and we’ll send you a personal reminder on November 3rd.

We’re excited for Giving Day. We’re excited because it’s a day where people in DC show their commitment to the kids and families in
– Chelsea, DC127 Executive Director

P.S. We’re also hosting a happy hour on November 3rd to celebrate the work everyone in the DC127 movement has accomplished this year. Join us at The Prospect on U ST from 6pm-9pm. RSVP here!

P.P.S. If you’ll be out of town on November 3rd, or just want to donate early, you can click here and donate anytime.

Want to hear how DC127 has helped one DC family? Hear Ms. H’s story here:

 

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What Happened To You? A Lesson In Trauma Informed Care

Posted by | Blog, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families | No Comments

By Amanda Coquyt, DC127 Fellow and MSW Candidate

DC127 is hosting a Trauma Informed Care Training on October 6th. This blog explains why trainings like this are so important for volunteers that work with families who may have experienced trauma. Learn more and RSVP for the training here

When I started as a social worker in the foster care system in 2008, I thought I was going to change the world. I had dreams of connecting with children and families, fixing all of their problems, and knowing what an impact I had on their future as I left them to live happily ever after. Did I mention I had zero experience with the foster system before I got my social work degree? It’s also worth noting that I had led a pretty great life overall. Trauma was a foreign concept that we skimmed over during my brief training to become a case manager. But, I quickly learned that trauma impacts a person from infancy throughout their adult lives. Not only does trauma impact individuals emotionally, but it also impacts behaviors, personalities, and relationships.

Fast forward to 2009. I was a seasoned case manager by that point (it doesn’t take long!) and had one incredibly challenging 16-year-old teenager on my caseload, Melissa. She was confident, intelligent, and outgoing. She was also manipulative, sneaky, and struggling with addiction and depression. While we didn’t start out on the best of terms, Melissa came around and we had a decent rapport. And then she ran away. And then she ran away again. And again. No matter where we placed her, Melissa ran. One day she called and told me she was ready to stay put, but she needed to pick up her things from the location she had been squatting at while on the run. I was so excited! I had finally gotten through!

So, I picked her up and left her at her new foster home with the expectation we would see each other the following week, and I headed home filled with pride at how I had been able to get her to stay put. Sure enough, about 15 minutes after I left I got a phone call from Melissa’s new home- she had run away again, taking all of her belongings with her. I was stunned. How could that happen? I had just done everything Melissa asked, and even stopped at McDonald’s to get her a chicken sandwich! I had been kind and helpful. What more could she want?
That’s when I learned perhaps one of the most important lessons about BC1C7B577Churt children. Melissa didn’t do this to damage my pride or waste my time.
She told me she would stay so I would come pick her up from a situation she no longer wanted to be in. She told me she would stay with the condition that her belongings be picked up so I would fit everything into my beat up little car and get her dinner. She did what she had to do to survive. We all cope the best way we know how, and Melissa’s traumatic past had taught her that sometimes you have to manipulate people to get by.

Melissa had been in care since she was 5 years old and was separated from her only sibling. Melissa’s parents had been in and out of her life. Melissa was left to take care of herself the only way she knew how because she couldn’t count on anyone else to do it, at least not for very long. Melissa’s past shaped how she dealt with her present.

I had not suffered any significant trauma before jumping headfirst into child welfare. I certainly didn’t know how to recognize it in others. Even now, all these years later, it’s still easier to react to surface behaviors than to truly dig deeper. Perhaps the best tool I have learned throughout my time as a case manager is to be aware of the possibility that a person could have experienced significant trauma in their lifetime that I may never know about and this trauma affects the way they function in everyday life. Rather than asking why a person is acting a certain way, we need to ask what may have happened in their past to create a need for these behaviors. Recognizing trauma in a person can be very difficult, and understanding it can be time-consuming and exhausting. But the potential positive outcomes can be life-changing. We aren’t here to fix people. We’re here to support hurt children and families in their healing process.

DC127_Foster_Adopt_ParentsMelissa still calls me. Now 24 years old and a mother, we speak at least weekly (and more often when she’s down on her luck). She doesn’t always like what I have to say or the suggestions I make, but she listens. She isn’t the most financially successful person, but she provides a safe, stable home for her daughter. She may not have a formal education, but she is still one of the most empathetic young women I know. She is being treated for her lifelong mental health issues. She is engaging in counseling to process her lifetime of pain.

Thankfully, for Melissa, her trauma now means a commitment to do things better for her daughter, Shannon.

fullsizerenderAmanda grew up in central Florida and worked in the foster care system there for 8 years. She relocated to DC in 2014 and is currently earning her Master’s degree in social work from Catholic University. She’s working with DC127 from May 2016 to December 2016.

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