What do Fearless advocates and helpers try to accomplish when they attend meetings with parents?
We try to use our VISITATION TO REUNIFICATION process to explain to both parents and social workers the dreams we have for a forward moving case. It is transparent in what we believe the steps should be in addressing CFS concerns so parents can respond in the way that is needed. The starting point is usually to begin Increasing Visitation and parent / child connection as much as possible in the short term and requires working with 4 different people.
There are different adjustments that will be made as every families case is different. Maybe reunification isn’t possible right away but we increase visitation as much as the kids and parents and placements and workers can allow!
The visual nature of our process allows for adjustments to be made to make each case’s journey appropriate to each family. Remember the process we detail here is simply a guideline that we have found effective. These 5 steps generally are agreeable to both agency and families but it is possible to skip/add certain steps since each family is unique.
- Supervised Agency Visits: when we begin we know social workers may need to be present to observe the parents safe interactions with their child. This is about demonstrating the healthy relationship you have with your child. Bring fun activities for your child to do with you during the visit, limit or avoid screen based activities when possible.
- Supervised Home Visits: Next, visits will happen in your home or in a community space. Make sure it is neat and tidy and you have appropriate food, snacks and activities for the kids and you to do together. You have to make sure the social worker sees the strong and age relationship between you / your child / your home environment. Ask if there is anything you need to do to make the social worker feel safe to move to the next step.
- Unsupervised Home Visits: the third step is you will be able to visit with your child at home or out in community without your social worker present. Make sure you pay close attention to what you are up to and how your child is behaving. We recommend taking notes throughout the visit so you can share your observations and activities with the social worker.
- Overnight Visits: Once you show you have a good home with good activities , make sure your kids have appropriate places to sleep when they are at home for visits & ultimately when they come home. Make sure the bedding is clean, there is a proper pillow and blanket and there is extra sheets in case of emergency. Once again, take close observation of activities to share with the workers, this is intended to demonstrate your great parenting skills, showing them you know what to look for when caring for your child.
- Reunification: Through the first 4 steps, you have demonstrated your kids can come home and live a good life. Make sure you listen closely to what is in your case plan and you get documentation for any course or program attended and letters of reference/support from any people who can vouch for your awesome parenting skills. We recommend you bringing together a family group conference / family network meeting to ensure that there is a circle of formal and informal supports ready to support the kids and parents as reunification occurs.
You can access the Fearless helpers by reaching out to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram OR you can come see us in person Wednesdays at 6pm at Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre. Fearless Advocates are volunteers and are considered informal supports to parents.