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Edition 14 - October 2020

  • An open letter to parents
  • Parents meet with Qld Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC)
  • It's Tea Time!
  • Parent advocacy works
  • Top 5 tips in an investigation
  • Resilience
A letter to Mums and Dads
 
What an emotional roller coaster ride you have been on.  No doubt the pain, anguish and hopelessness that has begun to come over you with your children being removed, as I have felt, is unexplainable.  Every single thing in life’s existence is now clouded and any ability to just be human right now may as well not be on the cards.  Your ability to rationalize, comprehend, justify or even begin to understand how your life has just turned upside down, is going to be impaired in every way. 
 
Your heart and soul are going to clash with the constant mental mash that's going on upstairs and then you have the weight of when they say you can see your children again, when you can feel their beautiful warm embrace.  You start to think “Shit maybe I need them more then they need me!  Maybe I can't do this, maybe I am a failure”.
 
Stop. Stop right there mumma/daddy. This is where you are wrong!  Your children need you more than you've ever felt you've needed them.  
 
I watched a movie, Finding Dory. Watch it.  Dory is a child in care and her parents every day, every single day, go out and gather shells. They go to make another path, and another, and another so their child can find their way home. Not one day goes forward without every single shell in sight being gathered and laid down for that little blue fishy.  
 
That is now your job! Leave no stone unturned. Find a way. No matter how many times you feel as if you’re defeated, get up, get those shells and lay down that path. 
 
It's hard poo bum, it's hard.  Harder than any challenge you've ever faced. It's the longest list of things you've ever had handed to you.  Things you aren't even in control of. And some things you’re going to do aren't even valued. Some expectations aren't even realistic or rational.  But the biggest tip from a parent who has been there is this.  Allow yourself to commit. Commit to getting your babies home so they once again can feel complete. So that once again they know their worth and have their spot. It's now your turn to prove to them you can make mistakes and learn from them.  
 
Parents, it's ok to be you. Maybe throughout this process you will lose who you thought you were and maybe throughout your life you no longer know who that is because you've become broken. Let me give you some advice. Please know I am no Angel (I have fought my battles and started many wars I wasn't prepared for) but I have committed myself to my children and that's what real parenting is.  No matter the heights I must climb, no matter how many times I could duck it up,  no matter how many tears that fall, no matter how broken I once was, my children are worth it. They need me more than the air they breathe and they need me to be whatever is humanly possible for them. They need me to 100% believe and know they will come home because failure isn't an option. 
 
Commit to your children, whatever it takes, it must be your motto. Don’t let the fear of failure be a thought. 
 
I leave you with this.  
 
Sometimes in life we can face some horrific challenges, or as I like to call them challengers. Life can become confusing and it's not always easy to know what to do or what not to do. Sometimes you may not even be able to do anything more than keep on keeping on. But Mumma/Daddy, as we tell our children, you can do anything you set your mind to. All you have to do is believe in yourself and fully commit yourself because when you do, these amazing things happen, things we didn't even know we could do.  Take your own advice please, I beg you. Your children, no matter how happy or great they may seem when they are not home, are breaking. 
 
Being a child's parent is what makes you special. It’s what makes your existence count. That there is your talent. Learn to trust yourself and learn to be proud of things you achieve. Remain humble and grounded, be optimistic and never let failure become an option. It's your time to practice what we all as parents preach to our little ones (no matter their age).
 
During this journey, it's going to take some time for you to get it right, to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s the way they expect you to. But we are all human. Don't let the weight and confusion of having no control get to you. This process is heavy, don't let it swallow you down. 
 
Allow your mistakes to make you stronger and wiser than what you realise you really are. We all have days where the hours seem to just go on and on - allow yourself to feel everything because your children sure do.  Face the next day as if it were new. Every little bit of resilience you have taught your children to draw upon, do the same.  When you fall down, get up, get back on and focus.
Never let the depths of the hole prevent you from climbing the ladder. Rung by rung you must climb - no if’s, but’s or maybes.  You must climb because you will not allow failure to be an option, for you are a parent and you will not fail.  
 
From one parent to another.
 
Lastly, remember to breathe. You got this!! 

Connecting Parents and Carers

 

Parents recently met with Carissa Inglis, the Service Support Manager from Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC) to give insight into how reunification training received by carers could be improved.  Parents spoke to a number of issues including the importance of communication between parents and carers, the lasting impact of trauma created by the system, the desire to remain involved in medical and other important decisions, and the concerns for children's safety while in care.  

Carissa expressed gratitude for the insight of parents and has committed to continuing meeting  with parents through the Family Inclusion Network to help promote the development of relationships between parents and carers. 

We'd like to thank Carissa for recognizing the value of parent's voices and expereinces.  We look forward to working with her closely in the future.    


 
"There are many Principles that refer to children being supported to be connected to family, and the Statement of Standards outline key expectations in this area as well.  Furthermore, the Child Protection Act sets out clear obligations for Child Safety to facilitate contact between children and their birth parents and family.  Whilst pieces of legislation can sometimes be confusing and at times may even not align with our own value system, we must remember that legislation is a must not a may, and it is the responsibility of every single care team member to ensure that legislation is adhered to in the best interests of children and young people...
...The importance of developing a working culture within the Child Protection Sector that promotes the safe development and ongoing relationship between birth parents and carers is critical.  Children are entering care at an ever increasing number and we simply do not have the number of carers to facilitate this. We need to work with parents to have their children safely returned home wherever possible.."
-Carissa Inglis, QFKC  
Needing to stock up on some summer outfits now that things are warming up?  Come along to our morning tea at Hawthorne on Monday 16th November and have a browse through our "clothing shop" for some cool summer threads :)
Sometimes our homes and lives feel like they've been turned upside down when the Department becomes involved or our children are removed. How do we reframe the picture?  How do we shift our perspectives? How do we look for opportunities in the crisis to change the way we see the world and ourselves?  Sometimes the "upside down" can help us see new possibilities.  What shifted for you when things were turned on their head? 

This is how it's done: Mum in a mining region learning to advocate for herself and her baby:


A young Indigenous woman (under 18 years old) who was in care has a baby that is removed at birth. The young woman goes to stay with a family in the community. The mother of the family that the young mother stays with fortunately knows the child protection and family support system and acts as an informal advocate and support person for the young mother. The advocate and mother work together to get home visits with the baby and she assists the young mother to address child protection concerns. The informal advocate states clearly that without such support the mother would not have had her child reunified.

Young people in the system become accustomed to being compliant with directives from Child Safety without knowing their rights or how to proactively address and document that they are addressing child protection concerns. 

Sliding Doors?? How different things could have been.... What could have happened if the recent push towards adoption was front-of-mind for the Department? What could have happened if the young woman had not stayed with this helping family and had not had someone to guide, encourage, advocate alongside her and believe in her? The informal advocate reported that reunification is rare in her region and relatives are often disregarded as suitable kinship placements because of ‘gossip’ or bias toward certain families. 

[This experience was part of what FIN Southeast Qld recently put in their Submission to a Parliamentary Committee. See September edition. More to come...]

Top 5 tips in an investigation

(as told by parents involved with FIN)
 

1. Get Legal Advice - IMMEDIATELY

Don't sign anything without getting legal advice. Have your support service refer you to the Legal Aid Early Legal Service to receive free legal advice and advocacy services.
 

2. Start a Diary

It's really important you record everything: dates, times, person/ worker involved, your Team Leader's name, the Child Safety Office and the telephone number. Get copies of all paperwork you've signed. Keep everything you are given. Start recording all conversations, emails, text messages and agreements you make with Child Safety.
 

3. Educate Yourself

Learn about the law, Child Safety policies, language and acronyms used, your rights and responsibilities. Ask and keep asking questions until you understand. Read the South West Brisbane Community Legal Service Information Kit on Child Protection for Parents.
 

4. Look After Yourself

Take care of yourself, so you can be there for your children too. Seek supports: including counselling and mental health, drugs and alcohol, domestic violence and parenting programs. Ask your CSO for referrals or call Family and Child Connect on 13 32 64. Ask Izzy is another great place to seek supports. 
 

5. Maintain a relationship with your CSO

Know the system, your role and your responsibilities. Stay in control of your emotions and work with Child Safety and your lawyer. Be honest, make sure Child Safety record what you say accurately, make agreements with Child Safety and hold them accountable.

6. Develop the Best Relationship with your child/ren's carer if possible.
You can work with them to make sure little ones know they are loved by many people.   


 


Resilience


I came across this tree recently. My first thought was of the ‘parents’, particularly those involved with FIN.  Despite the many almost devastating storms, winds, attacks by bugs when the tree was vulnerable …  it survived. How the bend happened matters, but how the tree survived is the real story. Parents who have been able to get their children home, been reunified, those that haven’t but still remain connected, involved and continue to communicate their love to their children, parents who feel shut out so many times but knock on the door again and again, because they love their children, parents who overcome personal addiction, survived domestic violence, learn about themselves and how to manage their mental health in a way that makes sense to them and their children, the parents who cry and get up again and again. Like this tree, they could have broken but they didn’t. That is resilience.

Susie Edwards - Family Inclusion Network Coordinator


We hold morning teas with parents to share their experiences with other parents who have walked along the same path.

Get in touch with us to find out the next morning tea date!
 
The Family Inclusion Network SEQ
07 3013 6030
info@finseq.org.au
facebook.com/finseq
finseq.org.au
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Copyright © 2020 Family Inclusion Network SEQ, All rights reserved.


The Family Inclusion Network SEQ
07 3013 6030
facebook.com/finseq
finseq.org.au

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