Imagine waking up to find that you will be moving today. You can pack a small bag of what you will take with you. Nobody can tell you for how many days, weeks, or months you will be away from home. You will be living separate from your family, and nobody is sure when they next phone call or in-person visit will be. This will be decided soon. You will live with strangers, likely sharing a room and bathroom with people you have never met. You will have a new workplace to start at tomorrow but will find out more about it tomorrow morning when you go. You will need to cancel any upcoming plans you have. Are you anxious yet? This is the experience of the thousands of children in foster care in Ohio and across the nation.
Children who cannot remain safely in their own home don’t just leave their homes and parents. They also leave their pets, schools, friends, and extracurricular activities. A key component to reducing trauma when a child must be removed from their home for safety is having a caseworker who understands these traumas. CCDJFS caseworkers strive to find foster homes that are as close to the child’s removal home as possible. They work to maintain connections for youth with friends and supportive adults and to find relative connections for the youth. When youth move schools, caseworkers encourage them to engage in sports and extracurriculars in their new school.
Sometimes foster homes are hard to find. This can leave youth feeling unwanted or unimportant. A caseworker who can explain to youth the complexities of the system matters. Once, after several hours of a sibling group being at the CCDJFS office while workers were attempting to find a foster home able to take them, one of the siblings asked why nobody wanted them. The worker was able to think quickly on their feet to explain that the problem was not that nobody wanted them but was rather because all the foster homes were full.
A caseworker who makes efforts to reduce trauma can make a significant difference in the experience for a child. CCDJFS appreciates the work of our caseworkers to maintain connections for youth in custody and to reduce trauma. They truly make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.
Ohio has a critical shortage of foster homes. For more information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please visit www.fosterandadopt.jfs.ohio.gov or visit the It Takes Heart Ohio Facebook page.