Stuck In the Cycle
Because of an overburdened and under staffed child welfare system, children like 10 year-old Sue (not real name), are removed from parent’s care and passed around a system that intensifies Reactive Attachment Disorders. Sue was removed from her home because of her mother’s failure to protect and parent her at the very young age of 6. She lived in a fifteen foot trailer, with her sister Jen (not real name) and their drug addict mother and her boyfriend. There, she and her sister were mentally and physically abused by her mother’s boyfriend, and frequently exposed to the two adults having sex. After family found out about the girls abuse, they were placed in foster care, and six months later returned home back with their mother. Less than 5 months later, Sue and her sister Jen were removed from their mother’s care again.
Because of the urgency for a safe home they were placed right into another foster home. The girls behaviors were starting to surface and the current foster parents felt that they couldn’t parent their behaviors. They are placed in another home, and soon both girls were showing signs of inappropriate sexualized behaviors. The cycle continues; Sue and her sister are placed in another foster home. Although both girls liked their new foster family, their extreme abuse and the trauma of being moved repeatedly worsened their behaviors. Both girls had begun to lie and became very manipulating. They lacked impulse control and cause and effect thinking. So once again their behaviors were too severe for the new foster family, and they were given a 7 day notice to be moved.
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Their social worker then found Jen’s biological father’s parents in another state. Because the children were hard to parent and maintain placement in a foster home, they were moved out of state to live with their grandparents. You can imaginehow traumatic this must have been. Once safely with Grandma and Grandpa the same behaviors had surfaced and had become extreme. Their grandma was trying really hard to make a difference; she got the girls in to therapy and had a counselor come to the house. Jen’s behaviors were so bad her own grandparents decided they could not parent her. So the cycle continues; another 7 day notice, but this time only for Jen. The grandparents kept Sue because she was younger and they thought they could parent her. So Jen was put back on a plane and headed back to California all by herself, not sure where she was going but only to another foster home. Sue was separated from her sister and became an only child.
The grandparents worked really hard with Sue, and her behaviors had become manageable. Sue and her grandma really bonded, and the adoption process was started. Then the Grandparents started noticing more sexualized behaviors. Within a week’s time Sue started to masturbate, sometime in public, and then was accused of molesting her 3 year old cousin. The Grandparents decided to stop the adoption. Sue was back on a plane a few days later to California.
Sue was placed with me in emergency foster care as a temporary 30 day or less placement. Sue is currently still in my care 17 months later. Sue sister lives in a group home and still has severe attachment disorders. I have advocated for Sue. I often have felt I am fighting a system that is so unorganized and not on the same team! It has made my job tough and I often have felt all alone because of little support. I have stuck with little Sue and searched for answers. After about 6 months into placement and a referral to mental health we finally got diagnoses of Reactive Attachment disorder.We have had her in therapy and our family in therapy because at first her behaviors were exhausting. We educated ourselves and I have stuck my nose into anything I can find to help parent her. With good results Sue is 10 now, she is stable and continues to grow and trust us as her family every day. We are currently in the process of adopting Sue to give her permanency.
... also be a good move for the family so as to regulate the child’s behavior early on. 4. How I relate ... Following such counseling, the parents need to learn how to teach the right behavior to their child. Special education teachers may be ... psychosocial struggles. According to Hastings and Beck (2004), parents of children with special needs, especially those relating to intellectual disabilities ...
Children with Attachment Disorders within the foster care system seem to be stuck in this cycle. Foster families are exhausted because the severe behaviors and the little training provided to handle those behaviors. The foster families are often left with a tremendous amount of guilt because the placement failed. The experience Sue and her sister had is common. Often there is a lack of coordination between agencies. There is a need to develop a more coordinated service team. Teams should include Foster parents, bio parents, agency staff, support counselors, and therapist.
An example of a simple solution would be initial and ongoing training for foster families focusing on the advanced skills of parenting children with RAD. Training needs to include information regarding other services involved in child welfare.(e.g.: legal, school, mental health, law enforcement and medical).
I think more education would promote better outcomes for RAD children. Foster parents would be more knowledgeable and comfortable in their role and would be more inclined to parent these children. To continue the cycle of just placing these children in mainstream foster care, you will see children like Sue and her sister Jen moved in and out of placements each time failing and causing more traumas to the kids.
If we started to screen for the attachment issues and getting actual diagnoses, putting together strong teams, and educating families that care for these kids, I think we would see a lot more stabilized foster kids.
So imagine how many failed placements could have been eliminated for Sue and Jen, had early screening taken place. If they could have been diagnosed with RAD then the social worker could have looked for a family that was prepared for their sexual behaviors, and set up a strong team to help support the family with the children’s needs. Sue and Jen could still be living with each other, and begun their healing years ago, instead of cycling through the system.
... needs of the treatment foster care child (Hawkins, 1989). Purpose of the family resilience project. Family resilience project focuses on ... enhancing an appreciation for being treatment foster care family. The project provides parent education training that is practical and ... approach to solve all problems which limit effectiveness of parent education program. Also, researches undertaken have given ...