June 18th, 2015
This winter, I was informed of a workshop that would be taking place at Family & Children’s Services, called Family Finding. My initial reaction was “SIGN ME UP!” This workshop was going to be all about recruitment and finding foster carers, which will be sooooo transferable to our work and our need for providers in FamilyHome. Right on!
WRONG!! The workshop wasn’t about that at all. The workshop was about children and young people in the foster/care system and their lack of real relationships. It’s about those kids who have the file that says “no known relatives” or “none” in the place that asks about family history.
The workshop was led by an author named Kevin Campbell, who has developed this model of family finding. In a nutshell, his message is that everyone has someone….you just have to find them. And sometimes, finding them is hard! It’s about thinking that there’s got to be someone out there somewhere who cares about this kid, even if the file says there isn’t.
He talked about making that cold call to someone and saying “you don’t know me but I’m trying to find Joe Smith” and exploring the complete unknown. The best example he gave was when a social worker located the grandmother of a 17 year old boy. This boy was born to a mother in hospital, and she walked out, disappeared, and was never heard from again. The baby went in to care, and there were no family connections noted. Seventeen years later, contact was made with his paternal grandmother, who was beyond thankful as she had believed he was out there somewhere but didn’t know where. They went on to build a relationship, and he went from having no known family to having a full family tree.
I really appreciated the message of the importance of relationships in this workshop. It also gave me a new appreciation for the difficult work that is done by social workers in the field of child welfare. It was a great experience.
~Erin Toner, FamilyHome Coordinator