David and Michael are a same sex couple who formed their family after a long term respite foster care relationship developed into a permanent care placement. Their two children, two brothers, were 2 and 3.5 years old when they would come for respite care from Friday night to Sunday night every second weekend. Those two children are now young adults. We have a wealth of information to learn from David and Michael about gratitude, how a strong emotional connection can lead to great things and how to navigate care in the LBGQTI and broader community with keeping expectations high.
NDIS & Mental Health Engagement officer with Merri Health and Carer Gateway, Nicholas Colicchia, fills us in on what happens when carers seek respite care support from Merri Health, one of the 7 Carer Gateway partners.
Nic clarifies that support is available, regardless of other income entitlements like Centrelink or carer allowances. He tells us what to expect, and how to get registered and how to work in with NDIS if they are also involved in your young persons life.
There are great supports available. Everything from support for household tasks like meals, laundry or cleaning, to recreational and capacity building programs or even holidays and cultural events.
Maggie came to Australia as a refugee from Africa in 2005 at 8 years of age, and found herself in long term care as a teenager from 10 to 16 years of age (excluding her 11th year where she spent a year in residential care so that she could live with her two siblings). At 16 she struggles with understanding why she is in this situation and her emotions and anger are hard to manage. She ends up back in residential care and soon after she joins Lighthouse Foundation where she lives until she rejoins her biological family. All these moves, changes and experiences, not to mention cultural differences to manage, are just layers of trauma, yet Maggie manages to rise above it all, maintaining connections at school, with family, with her foster family, maintaining her studies and is now completing further study to become a nurse. Listen to what advice she has to offer about being in care. If you are a young person in care, her advice about communicating and trusting those around you are important. If you are a carer, whether foster care, permanent care, kinship care or adoption, Maggie offers insights about how it feels and how you might help the young people in your life.
Adoptive parent Linda Cooke was looking to parent with nurture and positivity and discovered therapeutic parenting was the answer.
Therapeutic parenting allows you to stay connected and present with your child, creating loving attachments and relational parenting that works.
There are some rules though! Safety, nurture and structure must be present and you need to be present with your child while they work through their emotions and challenges.
Its parenting that builds the brain and is perfect for parenting children from complex backgrounds.
Liz Powell, PCA Families Advisor, joins Sonia Wagner, Project Manager at PCA Families, to discuss developmental trauma.
Understanding what developmental trauma is, where it comes from, why it is so challenging to preempt and what we need to do to help our children experiencing developmental trauma can be challenging but is so important.
Children who come from complex backgrounds like permanent or kinship care or adoption are likely to have experienced some form of developmental trauma.
Early trauma can arise from things known and sometimes unknown, like development in the womb while a parent is emotionally unavailable.
Children experiencing developmental trauma can often be labelled as over controlling, naughty, a problem child or even autistic or diagnosed with ADHD. Yet these responses can hold the child back from progressing.
Understanding their behaviour from a trauma informed perspective can help.
Early trauma impacts the child by leaving them stuck operating in survival mode, leaving little room for higher executive functioning, even when they make it to a safe environment.
The good news is that developmental trauma can repair within relationships with the right interventions at the right time over a long period of time.
Liz shares some tips and ideas on how you can repair developmental trauma for your children.
For many young people living in care, aspiring to Uni or TAFE can seem overwhelming, perhaps due to disrupted schooling, or perhaps because other matters are a priority.
There are ways to get to TAFE and Uni, with or without VCE, and with financial support and other support too eg coaching and mentoring at the Uni or TAFE, help with resume writing and work experience or other support.
It is important to know what the options are before leaving school or finishing Year 12.
Find out how Raising Expectations can assist young people and carers / parents on this journey.
One of the challenges of gaining cooperation from young people can be due to them operating in a more stressed state. The reaction we see is not necessarily the real driver of the reaction. For young people from a traumatic life experience, the idea of not being in control is incredibly triggering and their reactions can reflect those triggers. So how do you move on from negative feelings? One way is to use reframing. Have a curious mind and find out what is getting in their way and how you can help. Reframing can move young people on from shame. They need relateable families and teachers to help them get there.
Preparation for many situations and events is a big part of our lives, however, often seeing a lawyer and preparing a will is an expensive, time consuming and thought provoking process. Wills are often something that we leave to another day, and often that day never comes. That day did come for one carer, Naomi Colville.
Naomi started by attending a webinar and soon found herself considering many aspects that she hadn't considered. Who would be the guardian for the children? What should be done to make arrangements for a child that would never be capable of being responsible for their own finances? And what type of structures accommodated both their children and allowed for protection from various other parties involved in her children's lives? What did Naomi learn about a disability trust? The answers are out there and require time, thought and strategies to be determined, and they will need to be reviewed too over time.
Listen to her story or see the website for contacts and resources to start your own journey in ensuring your wishes are clearly set out to safeguard the young people in your life.
Sensory activities can assist young people in finding a calm state. Where trauma is involved, self-regulation and knowing how to soothe may need to be taught or learnt. Whether you like blankets, music, oil burners or water, trial and error helps one to discover what works best. Sensory play helps children who have experienced trauma find their safe place which assists with self-regulation and development.
Young people who are in permanent care, kinship care or who are adopted can often benefit from sensory play. But how do you offer sensory play to your young people? Find out how by learning from like-minded families (with children in permanent care, adopted or in kinship care) about how they offered and succeeded with offering sensory play to their young people.
A transcript with information and photos to illustrate sensory play, plus resources (books, websites, programs) you can access and a shopping list for what you need can also be found on the PCA Families website.