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From Maria Franco:

The Family Connections Program is pleased to announce the continued success in the connections established for children who are in the foster care system throughout Tulare County. Not only do we establish a secure network for the children during the time they are in foster care but also for when they transition to a more permanent placement. Our Program continues to be a key point in the children’s well-being giving them hope and a permanent connection to an important person who will be with the children for years to come. 

Although we do not talk about placement with family, the team cannot deny that it is possible for placement to come out of some of the connections established. Such is the case for a sibling group featured in this highlight. A 3-year-old male, 8-year-old male, and a 12-year old female were detained from their mother. We were able to identify the need for Family Connections services given that the team knew the mother had previous Child Welfare history and had not completed services in the past cases. 

Our team’s approach to these circumstances is to identify the important people in the children’s life and reach out to them during the six months of reunification services the courts offer. Re-establishing a relationship one-on-one between the family members and children setting aside previous history with their parents allows the family to offer their support based solely on the children’s well-being. 

Aside from important family members the team also identifies professionals on the case that can help during the whole process. The collaboration between the team of professionals is important. The team includes social workers, therapists, CASA volunteers, the attorney, the judge, current resource parents, teachers, and anyone else who shares the same goal of giving the children the best quality of life during the time they are in foster care. 

After family members were identified in the case. A paternal aunt committed to re-establish a connection with the children. The aunt claimed she did not know the children were in care, which is not uncommon. Several visits have taken place and the children look forward to seeing their aunt each time. The aunt talks to the children about important topics such as their education, future goals, their behavior and their hygiene. She has intentional conversations that will help the children for the rest of their life. 

It is moments like these that can only be shared between family. She plays educational games with the children, shares family stories about their country of origin and has re-established a bond that was severed by the decisions the parents have made. 

Setting aside all history with the parents, the aunt has been able to give these siblings hope and the reassurance that they are not alone. Because of the work that the Family Connections team has done, Child Welfare has given the aunt the ability to visit with the children unsupervised. 

The children have developed trust and respect for their aunt. They enjoy her company, her talks and look forward to her visits each time.  It is stories like these that motivate the Family Connections Team to keep working hard. Not everyone in the family is perfect, the key is to find that one special person who is willing and able to offer emotional support in the long run.

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