The meeting with the counselor went okay. Lisa was not there and so David did not get any information about transition planning.
He did a very good job of de-escalating David (and me?). He cajoled David into telling Ruby some of the things that were bothering him. Ruby had told me in advance that the social workers had all agreed that they could not legally keep David's gift money until transition. Ruby told David that she told me to close down his accounts to protect my own liability, because some other kids around their 18th birthday started bouncing checks. David protested that they had said that he could not have it until he went into transition. Since Ruby was taking all the heat for me I jumped in and said that I had said that and I was clearly confused.
So David gets all the money on Monday.
The counselor got David to talk about what he was going to do next. David is saying that the smart thing would be to stay with us until he graduates and that he wants to be in The City. He is making multiple plans in his head and can't decide what to do. Ruby told David that staying means: respect the family, do well in school, and get a job.
In other words, we are de-escalated right back to the place we have been for weeks.
David still has not been told whether there will be any consequences for not getting a job, nor has he been told that there will be any limit to how many nights a week he will be able to sleep in The City this summer.
I know that the social workers have no intention of letting him stay in permanency this summer if he does not have a job and is spending more than 50% of his time in The City, but he does not. We never seem to get him de-escalated long enough to tell him that.
I am trying really, really hard to relax and let the social workers do that when they are ready. I know that they are trying to get him to choose a path and for him to feel that he really chose it freely. I know they suspect that he will choose to leave.
Still, I don't know that he will. The most sympathetic interpretation is that David is depressed and paralyzed between his options. He wants to go and he knows that it would be unwise. The transition worker is supposed to meet with him and if they can come up with a plan that David feels good about, he will take it.
We did point out to David that if he stays in permanency and does not work he gets nagged. If he is in transition and does not work he does not get services.
I had wanted this meeting to be one in which we presented clear options to David. I wanted him to know:
1. Exactly what the expectations would be of him if he stayed in comprehensive care after he was 18, including the summer.
2. What the consequences would be if he failed to meet those expectations.
3. What exactly he could expect from the agency if he left comprehensive care.
It turned out to be a meeting in which the counselor helped everyone to communicate better and helped David to talk a little about what he wanted to do.
Communication with David was difficult. The only thing he would say clearly was, "I know the smart thing to do is to stay until I graduate." If we asked him what he wanted to do, he would talk about wanting to spend time with his friends. If we asked him if he wanted to move, he would act hurt and start asking whether we wanted him. If we asked him if he wanted to stay, he would say, "I know that is the smart thing to do."
*Il is not the same thing as CJET (Continuing Job and Education Training) which provides funds, to qualified youth, for job and education training. Independent living, which is sometimes called transitional services and recently is being called community living or some such thing, provides support for all youth exiting foster care.
David's Story Part 1: The Beginning
David's Story Part 46: My Relationship with David