Speakers: Toronica Duncan, FFPSA Protection Specialist, State of Kansas
How can the Kansas Practice Model help children and families of color?
Toronica Duncan: Hi, I'm Toronica Duncan and I'm a Family First Case Manager in the Northeast region. Did you know that black and brown children enter into foster care at a rate more than two times their presence in the general population? Sometimes this means they are separated from the people they love most their own school or pets and all the things they call home. The Kansas Practice Model encourages us to have honest conversations with our families like in the 2019 conversation notes. Not only do we identify worries, but we acknowledge a family strength by what is working well. Through these conversations and an immediate safety rating, you can determine if it's safe for a child to remain in the home services. If this is possible, we can honor families of color discussing how our prevention programs like Family First or Family Preservation can support them and help their families succeed. A great place to start is making sure black and brown families have an early start to parenting success by ensuring equitable access and offering the support of parents skill building programs, check out the prevention tool, get to find out which family first programs are available in your region or contact your regional family first case manager and we'd be glad to help if you decide it's not safe for the child to remain in the home. The KPM encourages us to work alongside families to identify bigger safety networks. The bigger the network, the more people are there to help the family or help care for the child.
What's one of your favorite success stories?
Toronica Duncan: In the Northeast region we have a Family First program called Parent Child Assistance Program or PCap, which helps pregnant mothers who have substance use issues. We had a pregnant mommy used substances who gave birth prematurely to her baby who is experiencing some health issues related to this. So the worker assigned to the mom was able to offer PCap and mom agreed to the referral. I was able to attend the first meeting with the provider just to introduce myself. I could sense her hesitation about everything. After letting her know, I was there for support and to help her connect with any other services DCF could assist with, I could see her walls come down. Her boyfriend joining in the conversation and I could tell he was a good support for her and the baby. It felt like a good meeting. Fast forward to a few weeks later the PCap worker let me know that the mother had all of a sudden stopped attending sessions and she was having a hard time locating her. After following up with some of the family members that let us know that she had returned home. The PCap worker and I went back out to the house to meet with her. We were nervous to see how things have been going for mom. After mom opened the door myself and the PCap worker told her we were concerned for her because of her many missed visits, but we soon realized it was time for us to listen. We learned that her brother had passed and she was dealing with things pretty badly. Not only was she grieving, but she just wasn't able to do much and had given up doing a lot of things she was usually on top of. She had been staying at her mom's house so, that's why we weren't able to find her at this point. I knew it was important to be empathetic, but I also needed to let her know it was important for her to get back into the program and make progress kind but firm. I told her my worries were that if court found out she had stopped participating in PCap, there was a possibility that they could remove her child from the home. We told mom we believed in her as a parent and participating in the program would only help her gain resources and increase her already great parenting skills. Her boyfriend helped us cheer her on at this point and we can see her start to open up. She agreed to reengage but asked if we could give her more breathing room. The PCap worker and the mom reviewed their service plan and tailored it more to fit her needs and times that she could be available. I could see mom regaining control and she looked like she was brightening up, which felt really good to watch. Mama's still engaging services is on a good path and she's got supportive partner helping her along, which of course is a success in itself. But, I believe the true success among all of it, is even though she was ready to give up a couple of times, we didn't give up on her. I think sometimes support and encouragement from providers in DCF helps families feel stronger and gives them the boost that they need to keep going when things get tough. Every family involved with services deserves their own success story and we all plan to make that happen.