From Kate Hansen, PDA Director:
On July 14-16, 2014, I attended the annual conference for the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. It was an interesting conference that addressed a variety of issues. You can see the reported highlights HERE. There are two big take aways I got from the conference with regard to child welfare.
1. There was quite a lot of talk about evidence based interventions. In the context of child welfare this would mean making sure that the services that parents are required to do have studies and other evidence to back up why they are helpful, useful and what they accomplish. It makes no sense to ask a parent to do something that is not actually going to benefit them or help them get their kids back. For example this would be true of parenting classes. If the class does not actually help the parent become better at parenting then there is no reason for them to take it. Generic counseling is unlikely to be helpful if it is not targeted to resolving issues that caused the parent to become involved with DCFS in the first place.
2. Trauma informed care. There is a movement to view child offenders and children involved with DCFS as having experienced some trauma and treating the trauma rather than just changing the behavior or removing them from the harmful situation. It seems to me that parents could be viewed the same way. I would think it highly likely that large number of parents have had some sort of their own trauma that is contributing to their involvement with DCFS. The hoops the courts ask parents to jump through should not be just hoops and punishments. If viewed through a trauma lens, the services required of parents should be focused on helping them learn to overcome whatever traumas they have experienced and helping them to be the parents they have a right to be.
Is DCFS making reasonable efforts to prevent removal and to reunify, if parents are asked to participate in services that are not evidence based or not trauma informed?