CSSW Feature Stories
Every child deserves a loving, supportive, and safe home where their creativity, dreams, and curiosity can take root. Every child deserves to be fed, clothed, and cared for without fear or punishment. Every child deserves to be hugged and told that they are loved.
Unfortunately, this is not what every child receives.
Currently in Michigan, there are approximately 14,000 children in foster care because their own homes did not provide the security every child deserves. Working one-on-one with birth parents, foster parents, and the children themselves, our case managers work tirelessly to be the voice and advocates for these children.
But to do that, counselors must begin with the birth parents. The problems that bring children into foster care stem from challenges with substance abuse, housing, employment, mental health, and/or medical issues. Our case managers help birth parents access community services and resources to help alleviate these problems.
Additionally, case managers work with both birth and foster parents to make sure services are in place for children who are experiencing academic, mental health, and/or behavioral issues. Case managers and foster parents represent the child’s interests at school meetings, therapy sessions, medical appointments, and in any other setting where parental input would be needed.
The primary goal of our foster care program is to achieve permanent placement for the child in a timely manner. Ideally, this goal is met through reunification with birth parents who have successfully met the legal requirements. Failing that, permanent placement is sought through adoption, often with the foster family. The child’s ultimate well-being and safety guide every decision.
Foster parents play a vital role in lives of children who have suffered significant neglect, abuse, and trauma. They invest in the children as if they were their own, while working toward their reunification with the birth family. We are always looking for individuals, couples, and families that are looking for a way to help their community and the families within them.
Foster parents have a tough job, but they truly make a world of difference.
Qualifications of a foster parent/family include:
- Good moral character
- Ability to physically, mentally, and emotionally provide for the
needs of foster children
- An understanding of the needs of children
- A willingness and ability to work with the child’s birth family
- Completion of all required trainings
If you are interested in learning more about our program and how you can help, please contact our foster care department at 734-971-9781 ext 448 or go to our link and fill out an interest form.
Family Time is a program which offers supervised parenting sessions in cases where it may not be safe for one parent to be alone with their children. Most of these cases are court ordered and often related to domestic violence.
Tanya’s situation was a little different; at 3 years old she lived with her dad and got to see her mom for a few hours each week at Catholic Social Services. Tanya’s mother Deana had severe mental health issues and as much as she loved her daughter, was not able to provide a safe environment for Tanya even for an afternoon.
For many families in this situation, Tanya wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with her mother. CSSW staff stayed in the room each week while Tanya and her mother played games and told stories. Once in a while, staff might help mom stay on track and avoid conversations or situations that might seem scary to Tanya. Mom gained confidence as Tanya was thrilled to see her every week.
Last week Tanya didn’t feel good at all, but came to Family Time and ran right into her mother’s arms to be snuggled and comforted. This time of bonding, essential to Tanya’s development, might not seem extraordinary to other families, but for this mother and daughter was a profound milestone that nurtured the spirit and psyche of both. What seems as natural and ordinary as a mother caring for her daughter could not have happened without the safe, secure and supportive environment offered by the Family Time program and their skilled staff.
The limitations of Deana’s ability to safely parent Tanya might never go away, but her influence on Tanya’s future cannot be underestimated. This experience at Family Time offers the best chance of instilling it with a positive and rewarding foundation.
Go home and love your family.”
Child sexual abuse affects both boys and girls of all ages, in all kinds of neighborhoods and communities. The majority of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are people that the child, their family, and their communities know and trust. In fact, 90% of abused children know their abuser. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse do not always use physical force and often use games, lies, and/or threats to engage children and keep them from disclosing the abuse to helpful adults.
When we’re talking about preventing child sexual abuse, it is important to keep the focus on adult responsibility, while teaching children skills to help them protect themselves. Consider the following tips:
• Take an active role in your children’s lives. Pay attention to the people your child spends time with and watch for any possible grooming behaviors. Warning signs include: someone who frequently seeks alone time with the child, insists on being physical with the child, and ignores your child’s need for privacy or gives gifts for no particular reason. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about leaving your child with someone, don’t do it.
• Talk to your children about how they are in charge of their own bodies. They, and they alone, get to decide if they want to give another person a hug, kiss, or any other sign of affection. Teach them they can shake people’s hands or give them a high five if they don’t want to hug.
• Use the correct names for private parts. Teaching children the proper names for body parts decreases feelings of embarrassment and makes it easier to talk about if there is a problem.
• Talk to your children about safe and unsafe touches. Give examples. Explain that safe touches are ones that make people feel happy inside: hugs, pats on the back, etc. Unsafe touches are touches that make us feel sad or uncomfortable: hitting, kicking, and if someone touches their private parts when that someone is not supposed to. Explain that people are only to touch a child’s private parts if they are helping to take care of them, like when they’re changing a baby’s diaper, giving a child a bath, or during a doctor’s check-up.
• Teach children that if something unsafe happens, it is important to tell an adult as soon as possible. Teach children that they will never be in trouble with you for telling, even if they have not told right away. Help your child identify other trusted adults your child could tell.
• Be sure to monitor your children’s use of electronic devices and social media. Know their passwords and check their messages and apps.
• If your child tells you that he or she has been abused, stay calm, listen carefully, and never blame the child. Thank your child for telling you. Report the abuse right away. Call your local law enforcement agency and/or Michigan’s Child Protective Services at 855-444-3911.
“You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.”
Your compassion, generosity, and kindness bloomed this Lent. And while those we serve may never have the opportunity to thank you, know that your gifts are seen, felt, and gratefully accepted.
“Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.” —Alexander Pope