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family

To My Mother: Betrayal I Learned Best From You

What Is Betrayal Trauma?

many thanks to the original source article:

verywellmind.com – 3 days ago

What Is Betrayal Trauma?

You may feel betrayed when someone hurts you or breaks your trust. However, the betrayal can be traumatic if it’s someone close to you, or someone you depend on to care for you.

“This type of trauma usually relates to primary attachment figures like a parent, caregiver, or other important relationship from childhood. In adulthood, it tends to repeat among romantic partners,” says Dr. Romanoff.

This article explores the causes, symptoms, and impact of betrayal trauma, as well as some coping mechanisms that may be helpful.

Origin of the Betrayal Trauma Theory

The betrayal trauma theory was proposed in 1991 by Jennifer Freyd, PhD, an American psychology researcher, author, and educator.

According to the theory, someone may experience betrayal trauma when:

  • They are terrified, sometimes for their physical safety or their life.
  • They are betrayed by someone who they depend on for survival, such as a parent or caregiver, whom they rely on food, shelter, and other basic needs.

Furthermore, if the child processes the betrayal normally, they may start to avoid the caregiver and stop interacting with them. However, the theory notes that the child may be more likely to block the abuse or betrayal from their mind and develop amnesia of sorts, if they are dependent on the caregiver for their daily needs and survival. The child is essentially forced to ignore the betrayal in order to maintain their relationship with their caregiver and survive.

Impact and Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

Below, Dr. Romanoff explains the impact of betrayal trauma and the symptoms a person may experience as a result.

Impact of Betrayal Trauma

In the instance of a parent or caregiver who is abusive or acts in a way that betrays a child’s trust, the child remains reliant on them even though the parent is no longer dependable or safe. This creates a complex relationship with primary attachment figures who are simultaneously providing harm and support.

These children may grow up to be adults who select partners who violate their needs in familiar ways. In order to reconcile the two opposites of people who provide harm and care, they tend to avoid processing damaging behavior, make excuses for it, fabricate fantasies to compensate for painful memories, or even blame themselves.

At the core, people who have experienced betrayal trauma tend to dissociate from the trauma. In turn, they struggle with the consequences of extreme dissociation of their emotions, feelings, and reactions to the trauma. Instead of dealing with things directly, they may tend to self-medicate with substances, food, relationships, sex, or other forms or distraction.

Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma can have a severe impact on the person and cause them to experience symptoms or health conditions such as:

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Trust and relationship issues
  • Physical pain and gastrointestinal issues
  • Substance abuse

Causes of Betrayal Trauma

Below, Dr. Romanoff explains some of the causes of betrayal trauma, in childhood and adulthood.

Childhood Trauma

Abuse experienced in childhood is one of the most common causes of betrayal trauma. It can include physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse.

Trauma in Adulthood

In adulthood, betrayal trauma is usually experienced in relationships with intimate partners, especially if a person has experienced trauma in the past. However, people may also experience betrayal trauma at the hands of others such as a close friend, colleague, or other person in their life.

Betrayal trauma in adulthood could look like:

  • Physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse
  • Infidelity
  • Revelations of financial problems or significant debt
  • Ulterior motives or other secretive behaviors

Coping With Betrayal Trauma

If you have experienced betrayal trauma, Dr. Romanoff suggests some steps that can help you cope:

  • Acknowledge the betrayal: The first step is acknowledging how you were betrayed and hurt. Be honest with yourself and consider the impact of the betrayal on the relationship and your life.
  • Write your feelings in a journal: You may find relief through writing down your feelings in a journal. It can help you identify the emotions you’re experiencing and create space to reflect on them, instead of suppressing or avoiding them.
  • Process your emotions: Confronting the trauma you experienced in the past can bring up a lot of emotions, including grief, fear, anger, regret, loss, and anxiety. It’s important to process these emotions so you can start healing.
  • Seek support or treatment: It is also helpful to seek support by talking with a friend or therapist. People who have experienced betrayal trauma often feel like they can only rely on themselves and tend to isolate themselves when they are betrayed. Instead, it is important to do the opposite and reach out for support or treatment
  • Set boundaries: If the person who betrayed you is still in your life in some capacity, set firm boundaries in your relationship with them to protect your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
  • Recognize patterns: If you have experienced betrayal trauma in the past, it’s important to recognize whether it’s affecting your relationships in the present. Understand that you deserve to have relationships that are mutually supportive and beneficial.

A Word From Verywell

Being abused or betrayed by someone you’re close to or someone you depend on can be devastating. It can affect all your subsequent relationships and take a toll on your mental and physical health.

It’s important to address the betrayal you faced, process it, and take steps toward healing and self-care.

Categories
cps

Former Case Worker: Texas Foster Care Crisis Is Getting Worse

 Grace Reader, 21 hrs ago

Read original article here.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the pandemic continues to drag on, a former case worker says the already widely publicized foster care crisis in Texas is only getting worse.

“We have so many children in care, it might be due to the pandemic, there’s a lot of stress on families,” Mayra Butler, a former case worker in District 7, which houses Austin, said. Butler is now the chief executive officer for Homes in Harmony . “We have seen a rise in which there’s more drug usage on the biological parents.”

In July, national officials announced that overdose deaths went up in 2020 by roughly 30%. A record 93,000 people died of an overdose in the United States last year.

Butler also says they’ve seen a spike of kids coming into the foster care system as schools have reopened over the past couple of months.

In the state of Texas, as is the case in almost all states, teachers and school employees are considered mandatory reporters, which means they are legally required to report suspicions of abuse and neglect . They can be charged for not doing so.

“Now that the children are coming back and reporting to teachers of things that might have happened to them of abuse, neglect…so now they’re starting to share with teachers and so that’s where the rise comes in and there’s an overload of children in the DFPS offices,” Butler said.

Mandatory reporters

Even though DFPS says the total number of reports of abuse or neglect have not been significantly higher this year than they have previously around this time, there has been a shift in who is making those reports.

In 2018, more than 66,100 reports of neglect or abuse were made by schools in Texas , that was followed by more than 56,600 made by law enforcement. The numbers were similar in 2019.

In 2020, though, reports made by law enforcement outpaced reports made by schools. There were roughly 20,000 less reports made statewide by school officials.

Foster care failures in Texas, the latest

According to a report released last month by a group of independent court monitors overseeing a federal lawsuit against the state, 501 children spent at least one night in an unlicensed placement in the first half of this year alone.

Some children spent more than 100 consecutive nights without a “proper” placement. The report found that 86% of these children were teenagers, and many of them require intense or specialized care, due to serious mental health needs or past trauma, that they likely weren’t receiving.

The report also noted Texas has lost more than 1,600 foster beds since January 2020. DFPS officials have continually pointed to this loss of foster beds and treatment center closures as their reason for lacking placements for high-needs children.

“There is a dire need for a lot of foster homes, all over the state of Texas,” Butler said.

‘We do need our community to be more involved’

Seeing the desperate need for foster families in Texas, Butler, and a foster family that Butler knows from case work, opened their own foster and adoption agency out of Laredo. It also serves District 7, which houses Austin. They were officially contracted with the state in April of this year.

What they really need right now, Butler says, is for people to step up and open their homes to these kids.

“There is a great need. We do have constant emergency placements needed and children that are waiting in the office to be placed, especially teenagers,” Butler said.

A catastrophe’: More than 200 kids sleeping in CPS offices as need for foster care intensifies

“If you can provide a home that is safe, if you can provide love that is genuine, and just want to help a child in need, you’re highly qualified,” Butler said.

You can find the foster parent application for Homes in Harmony here .

Categories
aging out cps

California is the First State to Approve Guaranteed Income For Foster Youth

Aging out of foster care has to be one of the most difficult and scary times for foster teens. This is a time that sees many whose fear leads them to attempt or commit suicide before they age out.

I’m extremely happy to see an initiative to address those going through this delicate process. I’m interested in seeing how those who receive the help fare as time passes. Of course money is only one of many complex needs these teens face in their transition into becoming an adult.

Please comment with your thoughts.

Thank you and Godspeed.

Many thanks to ELIZABETH AMON for this article.

In a historic move to support young adults raised by the government, a monthly check of up to $1,000 — with no restrictions and no strings attached — will be sent to thousands of California foster youth once they leave the state’s custody, guaranteeing them the first statewide universal basic income.

Veronica Vieyra benefited from the UBI program Santa Clara County has in place for former foster youth.

California’s state Senate and Assembly unanimously passed the $35 million program on Thursday, which was then approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday.

Responding to the news in a text message, Vieyra, 25, celebrated the state leaders’ decision. 

She said the benefit “has now become the one helping hand youths are in search of when feeling lost or alone after exiting the foster care system.” 

Legislative analysts estimate that the taxpayer-funded program will serve between 2,400 to 2,500 young people like Vieyra who exit the foster care system each year.

“It’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have for these young people,” said Priya Mistry, the director of community initiatives at the San Jose-based nonprofit Pivotal, which supports foster youth with education and employment support. Mistry said the money will make a profound difference, allowing young people to “actually have a place to live, pay rent, bills, and money for a cell phone — which is critical.”

The amount former foster youth receive will be determined by local governments and organizations, but will likely be $1,000 a month, aiding these young adults who struggle far more than others their age with homelessness, educational delays and incarceration.

In May 2020, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a universal basic income pilot plan, with no-strings-attached payments to help keep former foster youth’s lives stable in turbulent times.

The plan provided a lucky group of former foster youth, ages 21 to 24, with $1,000 monthly payments for up to a year. It was the first time the nascent idea of universal basic income has been granted specifically to foster youth.

“We’re already doing it, and it’s been successful so far,” said Sparky Harlan, the CEO of the Bill Wilson Center, which provides services to more than 5,000 children, youth, young adults and families in Santa Clara County.

The local government decision came in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, as unemployment rates in California approached a devastating 24%.

The Santa Clara County supervisor who spearheaded the effort, Dave Cortese, later became a state senator and this year, introduced Senate Bill 739, which was combined with the governor’s universal basic income proposal.

Gov. Newsom announced in May a statewide universal basic income program, building off of efforts in Stockton, Oakland, and other cities. These programs have been gaining momentum with plans previously announced in New Orleans, Louisiana; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Tacoma, Washington; and Gainesville, Florida; according to the Associated Press.

Sen. Dave Cortese announcing the Santa Clara County foster youth UBI program. Photo courtesy of the office of Dave Cortese.

Under California’s state law, local governments and organizations will determine the size of the monthly payments, which can range from $500 to $1,000 per person each month. Pregnant people will also be prioritized for benefits, as well as other low-income Californians, according to the most recent state budget summary.

Former foster youth April Barcus told The Imprint in March that even before the pandemic wrecked low-income people’s finances, California’s housing costs kept many of her peers from building savings and a sense of security. 

“Even if you work a minimum wage job full-time, it’s not enough,” Barcus said. “You’re always working, and you’re always behind.”

Barcus is among the thousands of young people emerging from foster care who will soon be able to rely on a steady income.

The law had bipartisan support and passed 36-0 in the Senate and 64-0 in the Assembly, according to the AP. However, Vince Fong, a Republican Assembly member from Bakersfield, told the news service that guaranteed income programs “undermine incentives to work and increase dependence on government.”

“We should be pushing policies that encourage the value of work,” said Fong, who abstained from Thursday’s vote. “Guaranteed income doesn’t provide the job training and skills needed for upward mobility.”

But many of these young people are working, and the money provides “a cushion, so they aren’t on the edge of homelessness,” director Harlan said. And given the added burdens of the pandemic, many people need that help to pay for car insurance or repairs, as well as upgrading technology so they can join Zoom meetings or participate in online learning.

The concept of a UBI payment for former foster youth recently received the strong endorsement of University of Chicago social work professor Mark Courtney, a leading researcher on young people aging out of the child welfare system. In a Feb. 5 opinion piece published by the nonprofit news outlet The Appeal, Courtney advocated for guaranteed direct cash assistance to help young adults “bridge the gap” from foster care to independence.

Courtney makes this case after spending decades surveying thousands of young adults across the country on the hardships they face after leaving the system.

“The government functions as their parent,” wrote Courtney and co-author Shanta Trivedi, a fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, “and then swiftly extinguishes financial support, depriving foster kids of the safety net that so many of their peers increasingly find necessary.” 

Categories
cps foster care

Missing Children in Foster Care -Remembering the Forgotten

i can think of only one event more traffic than being falsely accused and having your child taken into foster care and a result- and that is being falsely accused and your child being taken into foster care, wrongly, and then finding out your child is missing!!

What a horrific thought. It happens. It shouldn’t happen but it does.. A child who goes missing and isn’t found if one of the worst tragedies. Lack of closure can haunt a parent of a missing child for the rest of their life.

Tens of thousands of children the foster system has lost –

Remembering the forgotten children.

More than 60,000 kids across the country are unaccounted for by the child welfare system that is supposed to protect them.

Original article by Rene Denfeld| The Washington Post

12:39 PM on Jun 19, 2018 CDT

The public has exploded in outrage at American immigration authorities’ treatment of children in recent months, but meanwhile there are tens of thousands of other children who are unaccounted for in this country: the more than 60,000 foster children who have gone missing.

A review of federal records by investigative reporters Eric Rasmussen and Erin Smith revealed in May that child welfare agencies throughout the country have closed the cases of at least 61,000 foster children listed as “missing” since 2000. An additional 53,000 were listed as “runaway.” Their investigation aligns with other reports of children missing from various states — 80 currently missing in Kansas, hundreds lost in Florida. Against the scandal of migrant children unaccounted for is another scandal: that our nation has lost track of so many of its own.

Just how did 60,000 of these children disappear? Blame a lack of federal oversight, underfunded agencies straining under almost half a million children, high caseworker turnover — in some jurisdictions, staff turnover is as high as 90 percent a year — and a chilling indifference to the plight of foster children.

In Arizona and other states, children who are missing for six months are dropped from the foster care rolls. A “missing” foster child is not necessarily on the streets; some are safe with a foster family or relative, and even though the state has lost track of them, they aren’t being harmed. But the point is that the state has no idea. In one case in Illinois, workers closed the case of a 9-year-old child who had disappeared. It took investigators a year to locate her, but she was alive. In Florida, a 4-year-old girl was missing for 15 months before anyone from the Department of Children and Families noticed. Her foster parent is in prison in her killing.

Lara B. Sharp, a successful writer who grew up in foster care, says that of the foster children she knew, “all went either missing or they died, mostly before age 18.” Sharp told me of three different times workers misplaced her. This happened when she was moved from one home to another, and no one updated her file. Had she been kidnapped or run away during these times, no one would have known. She would have fallen through cracks in the system so wide they are canyons.

The outcome for this negligence can be deadly. Sharp recalls a girl she lived with named Jennifer, who had lost her parent in a car accident. When she was 15, Jennifer went missing. She ended up sex trafficked and murdered. “She was a lovely, kind, clever, sheltered little girl,” Sharp says. “She loved the Bronte sisters and The Brady Bunch. I will never forget her.”

But our government has forgotten thousands of children like Jennifer. No one seems to know where these children are or how they vanished. In many cases, they are assumed to be runaways. In Texas last year, 1,700 foster children were declared runaways. Of these, 245 are currently missing. And they are at profound risk.

“Most of the children who are being bought and sold for sex in our nation are foster care children,” human rights attorney Malika Saada Saar writes. “Our very broken foster care system has become a supply chain to traffickers.” In one of many examples, a national FBI raid to recover child sex-trafficking victims found that 60 percent of the children came from foster care.

I asked human rights worker Quintan Wikswo why the recent case of missing immigrant children sparked outrage, but thousands of vanished foster children have not.

“It’s easier for partisan politics to use the immigrant children disappearances as fuel for whatever case they want to make,” Wikswo says. “But it is far more unpopular for folks to look into their own communities, to get involved in their own local judicial and law enforcement elections, and ask for documentation that their representatives are prioritizing the foster network.”

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Categories
cps parental alienation syndrome

Heartbroken Parents of Alienated Children Never Stop Trying To Reach Out To Their Children

source:

Alienated parents share unanswered texts to their kids and it’s crushing

by:Alexandra Carlton

Being prevented from seeing or communicating with your child is a special kind of hell – but a parent’s love never dies.

Imagine if you were unable to see or speak to your own young child.

You may know where they live. You may have a phone number or email address or social media handle for them.

But because they live with a hostile parent who controls their contact – your efforts to communicate disappear into a black hole of despair.

Alienated parents, also known as ‘targeted parents’ are distinct from estranged parents, who have a rift in their relationship with a child for a legitimate reason such as abuse, neglect or infidelity.

Alienated children have been caught in high-conflict separations where they have been forced to choose a side, and are aligned, both physically and emotionally, with one parent, rejecting the other.

Reaching out to an alienated child: ‘Never give up’

For loving parents, yearning for child who is alive but cut off from them is a special kind of agony – a pain some have described as “a living death”.

Almost all targeted parents continue to reach out to their children by whatever means available, as a way to let their children know that they haven’t given up. Amanda Sillars, who runs alienated support group The Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation, calls these communication attempts “breadcrumbs of love”.

I asked a dozen alienated parents to share some of these “breadcrumbs of love” – messages of unbreakable love that went unanswered.

The responses are beyond heartbreaking:

This mum sent thousands of unanswered messages to her sons over the years before discovering their phone had been cut off. Source: Alex Carlton

Parents never give up – no matter what. Source: Alex Carlton

What does parental alienation look like?

Never assume that a parent who doesn’t see their child has done something wrong.

In some cases there may be court orders that mandate that the child must see both parents, but the alienating parent defies them with impunity.

Sometimes there may be no court orders but the alienating parent has successfully ‘turned’ a child against their mother or father, resulting in the child taking one parents’ side in an effort to reduce the conflict between the parents.

In almost all cases, the alienated child had a loving, normal and secure relationship with the parent they no longer see before the alienation happened – even if their demeanour towards the targeted parent has become hostile.

What does the research say?

There is little Australian data available about parental alienation but according to a study from published in the Children and Youth Services Review, at least 22 million American parents may be a victim of this terrible form of abuse.

It’s thought to affect both mothers and father equally. It can be a difficult concept to understand, even for professionals. Research about it is minimal and there is little consensus about appropriate remedies.

It is recognised in courts in the US, Canada and the UK – and increasingly in Australia – but more research is needed to find out why it happens, what the effects are on children and parents and the what the legal and therapeutic communities can do to help those it affects. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has some information here.

If you are a parent who is alienated from their child or a child who is alienated from a parent, The Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Foundation has some excellent resources that may help.

Most of all, stay strong. And never give up.

How to reach out to your alienated child

Amanda Sillars urges targeted parents to keep trying to contact their children, even if they receive no response, as they may one day be the ‘breadcrumbs’ that their children can follow to reconnect and reunite with the parent they love and terribly miss.

“Often the children read the messages but they don’t want to be caught responding,” she explains. “You might not see the positive outcomes for months or years – but your kids may one day have an opportunity, away from the house or on holidays, to try and reach out. Don’t give up.”

She offers some excellent tips for parents trying to communicate with their alienated child here.

Tips for reaching out to an alienated child

  • Speak with love and kindness
  • Always stay calm and never react
  • Focus forward
  • Don’t bombard them with communications even though you may be excited to get a break through
  • Expect crumbs in communication – anything more is a bonus
  • No response is not always a bad thing
  • Be the best version of you
  • Avoid dark and heavy conversations
  • Show your children that you are interested in them
  • Ask them about school, activities or hobbies they may be involved in, friendships they have and so on
  • Avoid talking about the situation
  • Remember: actions speak louder than words
  • Don’t make promises you cannot fulfil
Categories
cps

Removing Children from their homes IS a big deal…

by 14thdaymom

child-abuse-foster-care-300x300

My last post about the BREAKING NEWS in Houston where a judge made an unprecedented move when ordering CPS to have NO CONTACT with children it removed from their natural home.

At the end of the video a statement is made that I think needs to be reiterated, and that’s how big a deal it is to take a child from their parents.

IT IS A HUGE DEAL.

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It is against the constitutional rights of the parents and the kids!

How big a deal is it? Its been 14 years since my son was taken from me. We have since been reunited now that he’s an adult, but not without scars. As I tried to share in my posts about ambiguous loss, parents often learn the hard way, as I did, how hard it will be when they meet back up with their kids one day.

The expectations of what will happen when they reunify and what actually happens are not the same. It blindsides them when what they’ve built up in their minds are expectations almost impossible to meet. Kids who were separated from their families grow into dysfunctional adults, and the parents never heal.

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The family in Houston lost their children for three days. That’s horrible and it’s awesome to know it was acknowledged as wrong. I lost TEN YEARS with my son. The judge showed justice in their case, but there’s countless other families who did not get that justice. It is a big deal to take children from their families. It’s such a big deal that it NEVER GOES AWAY.

No matter what. It is a lifelong curse. The kids become a case number to the social worker but the social worker becomes the person that changed that kids life path entirely. A decision like that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There is nothing that can make that right. There would be no amount of money that could fix the damage done to my relationship with my son. There is no telling how our lives would have fared if he had not been taken from me. NOTHING can mend that pain that I still feel EVERY DAY, even 14 years later. Some days are better than others. Some days I might almost go without thinking about it, but something will always remind me. Some days I can’t escape it. I can’t go back in time, and I can’t erase the memories. I still feel the anger and have to stuff it inside. I still carry guilt just comes with the questions … the could’ve been, should’ve been torture.

Its been 14 years and still it is a big deal. Fortunately I have the support and understanding of two people very close to me. My husband who was put in a boys home 30 years ago but recalls it like it was yesterday. My best friend sadly understands as well since she lost her kids too many years ago. She still has not reunited with hers. They are adults now too, after 9 years since they were separated. She suffers the grief so deeply. It truly haunts her.

I can talk to her or my husband any time I need to. i know it’s been 14 years and sometimes I catch myself feeling like I’m just repeating myself over and over again. I know that they’ve both heard my story and thoughts a thousand times over.

They know that they’ve heard my story before. Still, they listen to me with understanding and compassion like it’s the first time I’ve told them.

That’s because they understand how big a deal it was when my kid was taken from me.

If only the CPS workers had understood what a big deal it was when they took him from me.

Categories
cps post traumatic stress disorder

Sudden, lasting separation from parent can permanently alter brain

GettyImages_500414662.0

I feel badly for the children who are taken from their families at the border because they are the innocents.

I find it difficult to feel badly for the parents because they are not the innocents.

The adults know ahead of time that what they are doing is illegal, and they are doing it anyway. They are putting the innocents at risk of being taken.

There are ways to come into this country LEGALLY. If they enter the U.S. LEGALLY (albeit it may take longer or require more effort) but that would not place the children at risk of being taken.

That being said, I cant help but to point out that all the outrage is making me sick.

These children and their fate is being used and exploited politically and the outrage I believe, is being media driven.

If you are truly outraged over this issue, then you should have been outraged a long time ago.

Just like parents who commit a crime, do drugs, or abuse their children, know they might have their children taken away if they get caught, these immigrants know if they cross the border illegally and get caught, they may lose their children.

This atrocity has been happening in the United States to OUR CHILDREN, U.S. CITIZENS, with the foster care system EVERYDAY… FOR YEARS.

Many times the parents who lose their children to foster care did NOTHING wrong.

These families are separated from each other in their very own home in their very own country… keep that in mind…

Foster-Care-v2.png

Are we saying foreign children matter more than our U.S. children?

I hope not.

The protests and outrage is long overdue.

Read the original article here

June 22 (UPI) — At birth, the brain is the most underdeveloped organ in our body. It takes up until our mid-20s for our brains to fully mature. Any serious and prolonged adversity, such as a sudden, unexpected and lasting separation from a caretaker, changes the structure of the developing brain. It damages a child’s ability to process emotion and leaves scars that are profound and lifelong.

That’s bad news because, although President Donald Trump has ended his “zero-tolerance” immigration policy of separating parents and children at the border, there are some 2,300 childrenwhose reunification with parents remains uncertain.

In my psychiatric and therapeutic practice, I work with children and adults who as children experienced unexpected and lasting separation from their parents. Some fare better than others. Some struggle with major psychiatric disorders, whereas others have no psychiatric diagnosis. Yet, their feeling of safety and trust in others is compromised. The impact of separation trauma is everlasting.

Born to be nurtured

Altricial species, such as humans, are dependent upon parental care for survival and development after birth. The parent is necessary to regulate the offspring’s temperature and to provide food and protection against environment threats. This is accomplished through parent bonding with the offspring that nurtures a deep attachment. The newly born learn quickly that signs of parental presence, such as an image, voice, touch or smell, signal safety.

Studies in mammals show that infants naturally conform to parental emotions. The presence of a calm and caring parent produces the feeling of safety in a child. On the contrary, parental distress and fear activate the infant’s brain circuits that are responsible for processing stress, pain and threat. The ability of a caretaker to regulate the offspring’s emotions is an adaptive function encoded in our genes. Before people have our own independent experiences, we start learning what is safe and what is dangerous in the surrounding environment through observing and interacting with our parents. This increases our chances of survival and success in the world.

Numerous studies show that parental presence is more important than the surrounding environment for the emotional well-being of an infant or a very young child. As long as the parent is present and remains calm and caring, the child is able to endure many threats and adversities. Metaphorically speaking, the caretaker is the world for the young child.

Separation alters the brain’s structure

The parents’ presence is also necessary for a person’s harmonious growth and development. That includes the development of our psychological and social functions, such as our ability to respond to stress and self-regulate our emotions or our ability to trust others and function in a group.

Any serious and prolonged disruption of parental care, especially in infants and very young children, alters how the young brain develops. Very young children, younger than 5 years old, separated from their parents cannot rely on their presence and care anymore, which causes their stress levels to spike. As stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and norepineprhine rise, they alter physiological functions of our bodies to better prepare us to cope with threat. However, prolonged increases in the levels of stress hormones disrupt physiological functions and induce inflammation and epigenetic changes — chemical alterations that disrupt the activity of our genes. Turning genes on or off at the wrong time alters the developmental trajectory of the brain, changing how neural networks are formed and how brain regions communicate.

Studies of children who were separated from their parents or neglected by their parents, and experimental research on animals, consistently show that the disruption of parental presence and care causes a precocious and rapid maturation of brain circuits responsible for processing stress and threat. This fast-track development alters the brain’s wiring and changes the way how emotions are processed.

Short, sharp separation quickly causes harm

Laboratory studies show that it doesn’t take long for separation to hurt these infants and children.

In laboratory rodents these changes in brain wiring are triggered when a pup is separated from its mother for a mere two to three hours a day for a several consecutive days. We know the stress to the pups is caused by the mother’s absence, not by other changes in the environment, because the researchers continued to feed the pups and maintain their body temperature during the experiment.

Premature maturation of stress and threat processing networks in the brains of children separated from parents stunts the child’s development and leads to loss of flexibility in responding to danger. For example, most of us are able to “unlearn” what we may have initially considered threatening or scary. If something or someone is not dangerous anymore, our defense responses adapt, extinguishing our fear. This ability to unlearn threat is compromised in maternally separated animals.

The subsequent reunification with a parent, or the replacement with a new caretaker, may not reverse the changes caused by this early separation stress.

Pictures of the brain reveal altered brain structures

Brain imaging studies demonstrate structural and functional changes in the brains of children separated from their parents. Specifically, the stress of separation increases the size of the amygdala, a key structure in threat processing and emotion, and alters amygdala connections with other brain areas. On the molecular level, separation alters the expression of receptors on the brain cell’s surface involved in stress response and emotion regulation. Without the right number of receptors, the communication between neurons is disrupted.

The trauma of either permanent or temporary separation poses general health risks and affects academic performance, success in career and personal life. In particular, the loss or separation from parents increases the likelihood of various psychiatric disorders, including post-traumatic stress, anxiety, mood, psychotic or substance use disorders.

The Conversation

The feeling of safety and the associated ability to bond with others, the ability to detect and respond to threat, as well as the ability to regulate one’s own emotions and stress are vital. Early reprogramming of neural circuits underlying these functions can directly or indirectly alter the child’s physical, emotional and cognitive development and causes lifelong changes.

Jacek Debiec is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an assistant research professor in the Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan.

This article was originally published onThe Conversation. Read the original article.

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cps

Trump has passed a new federal law aimed at keeping at-risk families together during treatment

This new federal law will change foster care as we know it
BY TERESA WILTZ
Stateline.org
May 03, 2018 01:00 AM

WASHINGTON

A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system.

Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention.

The law, called the Family First Prevention Services Act, prioritizes keeping families together and puts more money toward at-home parenting classes, mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment – and puts limits on placing children in institutional settings such as group homes. It’s the most extensive overhaul of foster care in nearly four decades.

“It’s a really significant reform for families,” said Hope Cooper, founding partner of True North Group, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy consultancy that advised child welfare agencies on the new law. “The emphasis is really on helping kids stay safe with families, and helping vulnerable families get help earlier.”

Most child welfare advocates have hailed the changes, but some states that rely heavily on group homes fear that now they won’t have enough money to pay for them.

The federal government won’t release compliance guidelines until October, so states are still figuring out how the changes might affect their often-beleaguered systems. Most expect the impact will be dramatic, particularly states such as Colorado that have a lot of group foster homes.

For the first time, the Family First Act caps federal funding for group homes, also known as “congregate care.” Previously, there were no limits, Cooper said. The federal government won’t pay for a child to stay in a group home longer than two weeks, with some exceptions, such as teens who are pregnant or parenting.

But even in states that are moving in the direction envisioned by the federal law, officials are worried about certain aspects of it.

In New York, state officials are concerned that the limits on group homes will cost counties too much. Under the new caps, New York counties will have to chip in as much as 50 percent more for certain children, said Sheila Poole, acting commissioner for New York’s Office of Children and Family Services. That would be a significant hit for smaller counties with scant resources, she said.

In California, city, county and state officials and child welfare advocates worry the law will place a burden on extended family members who are raising grandchildren, nieces and nephews outside of foster care. That’s because “kinship caregivers” won’t be eligible for foster care payments under the new law.

This practice isn’t new, but it is likely to expand under Family First, said Sean Hughes, a California-based child welfare consultant and former Democratic congressional staffer who opposes parts of the law.

The new law, Hughes said, “closes the front door to a lot of safety nets that we’ve developed for kids in foster care.”

Child protective services investigates alleged abuse or neglect in as many as 37 percent of all children under 18 in the United States, according to a 2017 report in the American Journal of Public Health. African-American children are almost twice as likely as white children to have their well-being investigated by child protective services. (The report only looked at reports of child abuse and neglect, not placement in foster care.)

A March report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found the foster care population increased by more than 10 percent between 2012 and 2016, the last year for which data is available. The agency linked the increase in child welfare caseloads to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which is ravaging families.

In six states – Alaska, Georgia, Minnesota, Indiana, Montana and New Hampshire – the foster care population increased by more than half.

To help reverse the trend, the new law places a greater emphasis on prevention.

The federal government underfunded prevention services for years, said Karen Howard, vice president of early childhood policy for First Focus, a Washington, D.C.-based child advocacy group that worked on the legislation. Before the enactment of Family First, states got reimbursed for foster care through funding provided by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act – and that money could be used only for foster care, adoption or family reunification. The money could not routinely be used for prevention that might keep families from sending their children to foster care in the first place.

Now, for the first time, evidence-based prevention services will be funded as an entitlement, like Medicaid.

That means that prevention services will be guaranteed by the federal government for the families of children who are deemed “foster care candidates”: usually kids determined to be victims of abuse or neglect who haven’t been removed from their home.

Under the new law, states may use matching federal funding to provide at-risk families with up to 12 months of mental health services, substance abuse treatment and in-home parenting training to families. Eligible beneficiaries are the families of children identified as safe staying at home; teen parents in foster care; and other parents who need preventive help so their kids don’t end up in the system. States must also come up with a plan to keep the child safe while remaining with parents.

Some child welfare advocates, such as Hughes, worry that 12 months of preventive care isn’t enough for parents struggling with opioid addiction. People with opioid addictions often relapse multiple times on the road to recovery.

Many preventive services, such as home visiting, clinical services, transportation assistance and job training aren’t eligible for Family First funding, Poole said.

The law provides competitive grants for states to recruit foster families; establishes licensing requirements for foster families who are related to the child; and requires states to come up with a plan to prevent children dying from abuse and neglect.

In another first, the law also removes the requirement that states only use prevention services for extremely poor families. Because the income standards hadn’t been adjusted in 20 years, fewer and fewer families qualified for the services, advocates say. Now, states don’t have to prove that an at-risk family meets those circa 1996 income standards.

“That’s significant,” said Howard of First Focus. “Because abuse happens in rich homes, middle-class homes, poor homes. This is a game changer, because states can really go to town” to provide innovative prevention services to troubled families, Howard said.

Under the new law, the federal government will cap the amount of time a child can spend in group homes. It will do so by reimbursing states for only two weeks of a child’s stay in congregate care – with some exceptions, such as for children in residential treatment programs offering round-the-clock nursing care.

The new restrictions begin in 2019. States can ask for a two-year delay to implement the group home provisions of the law, but if they do, they can’t get any federal funding for preventive services.

The group home provision comes after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a 2015 report showing that 40 percent of teens in foster care group homes had no clinical reason, such as a mental health diagnosis, for being there rather than in a family setting. Child welfare experts saw this as more evidence that group homes were being overused. Children’s average stay in a group home is eight months, the report found.

Some states rely more on group homes than others, with the amount of children in congregate care ranging from 4 to 35 percent of foster care children, according to a 2015 report by the Casey Foundation. Colorado, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming have the greatest percentage of children living in group homes, though the report also found that over the previous 10 years, the group home population had decreased by about a third.

Those who oppose the group home restrictions say they are too narrow in scope.

The law’s additional requirements for congregate care “reduce a state’s flexibility to determine the most appropriate placement for a child and would negatively impact the likelihood of receiving sufficient federal funding,” said Poole, the acting child welfare commissioner in New York. She said the state is weighing whether it will ask for a two-year delay.

It makes sense to not place foster youth in group homes unless absolutely necessary, said Hughes, the California consultant. But sometimes it is necessary. The vast majority of foster youth in group homes are there because staying in a foster home or with a relative didn’t work out, Hughes said. For kids who’ve been through trauma, particularly older kids, a traditional foster home isn’t equipped to give them the care they need, he said.

“The idea that kids are placed in group homes because the system is lazy and doesn’t have any regard for their well-being is unfounded,” Hughes said.

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aging out cps

Dallas County Foster Kids Age Out to Troubled Lives…

 Its Almost Tuesday wants us all to remember, stories like these are about the children who live to age-out.  Many do not. Many commit suicide just prior to their 18th birthday. Those are the ones that the system needs to focus on, how that sort of tragedy could have been prevented.
Maybe listening to the ones that live to age-out can give us the answer to saving the next suicide victim-to-be.

After aging out of foster system, some teens’ troubles are just beginning

|by Source of article: JANET ST. JAMES,  WFAA 

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 10:31 PM                                                    Updated Friday, Sep 6 at 4:55 PM

DALLAS — When many high school students are fighting for Independence, Seth Miller seemingly has it all.

He wears what he wants, eats when he wants to, has complete Independence, and an apartment of his own.

But Seth would trade it in a second for one thing.

“One family,” he said. “Even if I had to live in a box — family.”

When Seth was a baby, he was adopted into a large family. The adoption lasted until he was seven, when abuse allegations split up the children.

He remembers what his adoptive mother told him on his last afternoon at home.

“‘You’re just going to spend the night, but you’ll be back tomorrow,'” Seth recalled. “Sometimes I question why she didn’t tell me the truth.”

In the coming years, Seth would live with five other foster families, never feeling part of any of them. Neglect was part of his foster life, he says. Distrust of people and anger at the world grew.

“You were just a number,” Seth said stoically.

At 18, Seth became a legal adult and aged out of the foster care system. He left his last foster family in an attempt to find happiness.

About 1,500 Texas teens age out of the foster care system annually, with few resources to help them survive the adult world. Many struggle with unemployment and crime. Nearly half, according to some research, become homeless.

A few weeks ago, Seth was living in his car.

“I remember one night, I did fall asleep and woke up the next morning and I was like this,” Seth said, leaning on his steering wheel, “and my neck kind of hurt. I never imagined living like that.”

“He called and told me he was homeless,” said Virginia Barrett, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA.

Unlike state case workers, CASA’s are volunteers charged with protecting the best interests of a single child. There are not enough CASA volunteers for every foster child in North Texas.

Barrett has been Seth’s CASA since he was seven. When the state assistance stopped, this volunteer has kept helping the angry, abandoned young man.

She gathered donations and helped Seth rent an apartment so he could finish his senior year of high school.

“My goal is to make it better,” Barrett said. “That’s what we’re working on.”

She’s trying to get Seth into a supervised independent living program to help him meet his monthly financial needs so he can concentrate on graduating.

Seth has biological siblings he has never met, and never knew existed until a few months ago. For now, Virginia is his only family.

Seth also works full-time at McDonalds. He is determined he will not fail himself.

He believes the system, overloaded with too many foster children, too many unqualified foster families, and too few case workers, let him down.

“I know I’m tough because I went through a lot,” he said. “And I’m going to make it. Because I have to. That’s all I have. That’s the only choice I have.”

Seth would like people to take notice of what he calls a broken system, to protect other vulnerable children who grow up in foster care.

He hopes other foster teens will see him now and know they are a number.

Number one.

E-mail [email protected]

WFAA Reader Comments:

Categories
cps

Forgotten Children

I saw filthy living conditions

"Pee wall" next to sleeping quarters at therapeutic foster camp.
“Pee wall” next to sleeping quarters at therapeutic foster camp.

make-shift outhouses

4a (Large)
“playhouse” at a therapeutic foster camp

unsanitary food storage in so-called outdoor camps

Sleeping facilities outside at therapeutic foster camp.
Sleeping facilities outside at therapeutic foster camp.

 

where children must sleep in sleeping bags – no walls, no fans, no heat – for months and months and in many cases, year after year.

Water hole where children at therapeutic foster camp are forced to shower year round.
Water hole where children at therapeutic foster camp are forced to shower year round.

That’s not care.

Isolation area to punish foster children in attic with lock on outside of door.
Isolation area to punish foster children in attic with lock on outside of door.

That’s cruelty.

image_71290
Worker at therapeutic foster camp demonstrating a technique in restraint of foster child.

That’s not educating.

Foster Child in Army Fatigues
Are foster children being forced to wear army clothes? Why?

That’s endangering”

cover

Carol Strayhorn on Texas Foster Care System in 2004