Partnering with Youth
Dumisha Jamaa Project
Dumisha Jamaa ProjectPartnering with kin
Marquita, and Danielle (back row)
Three siblings, determined to stay together, were eventually able to find permanency with their adult half-sister. The Dumisha Jamaa Project provided both a permanency worker and a wraparound service to ensure that the placement with the siblings' half-sister was their final placement.
Twelve-year-old Danielle, 9-year-old Joshanette, and 6-year-old Edward had been living in a foster home for 5 years with a family who did not intend to adopt the children. The siblings had lost contact with all of their extended family members and seemed to have no other options that would allow them to stay together.
The county child welfare worker made a referral to the Dumisha Jamaa Project in hopes of finding permanency for these youth, and the children agreed to work toward that goal. The permanency worker reviewed the children's files and talked with each child about their family members. She completed many Internet searches and wrote letters in an attempt to locate family members. Eventually, she met with (or spoke to on the phone) two adult half-sisters, the children's biological father and his wife, an aunt, and a grandmother.
The permanency worker and the county worker brainstormed about ways to engage the family members and also spoke with the youth about these extended family members. The permanency worker encouraged the family members to send the youth pictures of themselves, cards, or anything to begin the process of relationship building with the youth. Gradually, the youth started to have regular phone contact and then in-person contact with some of their relatives. The siblings were hesitant at first to meet many of their extended relatives but said they were willing to do so with their Dumisha worker present.
They began to have weekend visits with their older sister Marquita (aged 22) who lived 2 hours away in Oregon. The permanency worker also set up a family reunion for the siblings so they could meet more relatives. The reunion provided a great opportunity for the youth to be reconnected with family. The Dumisha worker also held a family meeting in an attempt to figure out who could become the permanent family and home for the youth.
After a few months of regular visits with their sister Marquita, Danielle, Joshanette, and Edward moved in with Marquita and her 3-year-old son, Jeremiah. Dumisha provided furniture for the children and paid a deposit on a larger home that would house the growing family. The workers made referrals for Project Permanence (the project's wraparound service) and therapy in order to support the family during this transition.
Marquita is determined not to give up on raising her siblings. She realizes that it is more work than she had anticipated but is grateful to the supportive services aimed at helping the entire family remain sound and healthy. The long-term goal is for Marquita to take legal guardianship of her siblings. The siblings are very happy in their new placement with their older sister.