Post-Permanency Services and Support program helps families thrive
July 30, 2020
In 2016 and 2017, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) held a statewide listening tour with parents involved in child welfare who identified a need for more resources and services for families after a case closes following adoption, reunification or allocation of parental rights. Oftentimes families were surviving but not thriving and this can lead to re-entry into the child welfare system. In 2018 the Colorado Department of Human Services started a statewide program in collaboration with The Adoption Exchange, which provides training and support services to families after their involvement with the foster care system has ended. The Post-Permanency Services and Support program offers training, implementation and connection groups, coaching, professional consultations, specialized webinar training, resource coordination, and respite (in rural counties) to kinship families, guardians, reunified biological parents, adoptive families and professionals free of charge.
“We come alongside the caregivers on their path by giving them tools they can use to meet their children’s needs,” said Brooks Kaskela, Director of Family Support Services at The Adoption Exchange. “It is organic healing and community for as long as the family needs it. There is not a specific time commitment and you don’t need a referral.”
In order to access the program, caregivers and professionals need to have taken at least one Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) course through the program or any other organization. TBRI® is an evidence-based parenting and intervention model developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross as a family-based intervention rooted in neuropsychological theory and humanitarian principles designed for children who have experienced relationship-based traumas such as premature birth, early medical trauma, multiple foster placements, maltreatment, abuse and/or neglect. In addition to TBRI® training, the program also offers specialized training on a variety of topics that are offered as webinars and recordings on their website.
“TBRI® is a lens and human relationship model to use with ourselves and our kids to understand the why and the meaning behind behaviors,” said Brooks. “TBRI® teaches us that ‘behavior is the language of unmet needs.’ If you just address the behavior you aren’t addressing the need.”
In addition to training, the program also offers coaching, professional consultations, support groups and resource coordination which can connect families with services such as therapists, trauma assessments, and respite care for the Denver-Metro region. The program also provides respite care free of charge in rural regions. The coaching program takes a therapeutic approach to address family dynamics, parenting, child development, trauma and attachment. Coaching has helped families with big needs like safety concerns as well as smaller concerns like providing tools and encouragement.
“I love groups because they are formatted to be holistic and serve the whole family,” said Brooks who explained how support groups, which are offered regionally throughout the state, were designed to remove barriers like dinner time and child care by offering a community-style meal for families and separate groups for kids and caregivers. “We teach them concurrent psychoeducational tools at the right developmental level. We like teaching kids tools too.”
The program also offers TBRI® training and support services to caseworkers, teachers and other professionals who work with children. Opening up the training to professionals helps everyone involved with a child or youth work together as a team. Professional consultation is also offered to teachers and other professionals to help them implement the techniques that are taught in TBRI®.
“We can collaborate with other professionals in the field and give a common shared language and toolbox. We are all on Team Kid,” said Brooks of how the program brings caregivers and professionals together.
In March the program stopped holding in-person support groups and had to move their training and support to a virtual platform due to the pandemic. Since the pandemic began, the program has seen an increase in participation and number of hours for their virtual and socially distanced coaching services. They are offering virtual TBRI® classes with limited class sizes to keep them interactive. The team has also provided sensory breaks and virtual respite activities for kids as well as virtual coffee breaks for parents, and Brooks is continuing to look for creative ways to meet the needs of the families they serve.
“Some families have come to us with significant challenges in their homes and are now in a place of thriving,” said Brooks. “We have seen huge changes in the families we serve, but really at the core of it what we see is a calmer, more connected home. They have a common language and if someone starts to get upset they know the tools they need to use.”
The goal of the Post-Permanency Services and Support program is to prevent children from re-entering the child welfare system by providing families extra support when it is needed. In their first two years Brooks and her team of 12 professionals served 1,248 individuals throughout Colorado and they have continued to expand their reach in 2020. The Adoption Exchange is currently working to expand this program into other states as well. At the beginning of this year, The Adoption Exchange began to replicate a similar program in Nevada and Utah is also working to develop a similar program in the future. To learn more about Colorado’s Post-Permanency Services and Supports program visit www.raisethefuture.org/family-support/colorado.