Tuesday, June 27, 2006

David's Story Part 22: Report from a conference


Hubby, David and I went this week to a "shared learning experience" in Seattle. The agency is coming up with a new statement of core values and effective practices and they are bringing in workers, parents, and youth from different regions for feedback. We were fed marvelously and spent the entire first evening listening to people tell us how important it was that they not talk so much and that this weekend was about listening. (Oh the irony.) On Saturday after yet more being quiet and being told how much they wanted to hear my thoughts, we were put into discussion groups to discuss various points of the "permanency framework."

My group was supposed to share effective practices in areas of protecting youth from abuse and meeting educational objectives (remember that, it's important). I was paired up with another foster mother and we listed youth groups, working closely with teachers, and helping the kids to develop multiple community connections. We shared in some detail some of the ways we have set up incentive programs with the kids. Then all the pairs reported to the small group. We went first and all the social workers nodded politely. Then the social workers started talking about how frustrated they were with the current "strength based approach," and how difficult it was to find time to do assessment properly. Their conversation drifted around and they ended up agreeing that they needed to remember that they were not the "hub" -- the youth and the parents were the hub. Then when our group had to report back to the everyone our spokesperson left out the comments the other foster parent and I had gave and (I kid you not) reported that they had talked about how important it was to do a better job of listening and responding to the parents and kids.

As frustrated as I was with this aspect of the "Shared learning experience" it was a good thing for David. There was a graphic of a tree that was on everything for this conference. I was a drawing of a big shade tree and the roots were also drawn. During the speeches David was pretty bored and he whispered to me that the tree's roots were not nearly deep enough, so we doodled on it together and drew deep roots...lots of roots. His social worker saw it and later one of the conference organizers bought David a souvenir insulated coffee cup as payment for it. They said that they wanted to use his drawing for the next version of the conference.

David's Story Part 1: The Beginning
David's Story Part 23: An Emotional Time

1 comment:

  1. I'm so enjoying your stories about each child. Thank you for writing about yourself. I wish I knew you!

    See a post about David on my blog.


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