Collaborative Relationships Promote Family Stability
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Kelly, who’d been adopted as a baby, called Sacramento County Child Protective Services (CPS) seeking information about her history. Unbeknownst to her, the social worker on the other end was the same person who’d helped her find her forever family 20 years earlier! Kelly eagerly explained how adoption had changed her life, “I can remember being such a happy child and very, very loved. I remember eating dinner at the table as a family, going camping every summer, and sitting together to watch a family show or movie every night. When I think about my childhood, I get an unexplainable feeling of unconditional love, comfort, and happiness.”
Health Services Division Manager, Melissa Jacobs, notes, “Connection and belonging are basic needs that all youth deserve, and they help to create a sense of safety, which promotes life-long mental health and wellness.” It’s why early, concurrent, permanency planning matters. Kelly’s story shows how it can change lives.
The Lopes family also highlights the importance of permanency. In 2017, Beatriz (15), Felix (13), and Harper (4) who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, were removed from their home to protect them from domestic violence, drug use, and neglect. Older sister, Brittany, had already left the home. Family reunification efforts were unsuccessful, so CPS utilized the Destination Family program to provide family finding, recruitment, and engagement. The children were placed with a relative, but they could not meet Harper’s needs.
Although adoption meant Harper might have to be separated from his siblings, he was placed with an adoptive parent with experience caring for children with special needs in January 2020. CPS worked to get older sister, Brittany, now an adult, approved for placement of Beatriz and Felix and they moved in with her in June. Beatriz and Felix, are doing so well, Brittany has applied for guardianship. Harper’s adoptive parent welcomes his siblings for barbecues at the adoptive home and they have video visits with their birth mom. Collaborative relationships—like those among Harper’s adoptive mom, his siblings, and birth mom and those among child welfare professionals, youth, and families—promote family stability.
Brenda Dabney, Regional Director for the Children’s Law Center in Sacramento, says, “Children thrive most when they receive the support of strong families.” CPS Sacramento supports families via Prevention Child and Family Team meetings that include the family’s and youth’s voice to prevent disruption and further trauma. Cultural Brokers help parents navigate the child welfare system and help them find ways to make their families stronger and avoid having their children removed in the first place. CPS Sacramento also partners with iFoster to offer free cell phones to foster youth to help them maintain critical connections.
Kelly was able to tell her story. She even made a YouTube video about it. When Permanency Division Manager Kim asked Kelly why she decided to tell her story, Kelly replied, “I know how important it is for children in the system to find their forever family and hoped sharing my adoption story would help one more child find a loving home.” Watch Kelly tell her adoption story here on YouTube.
To learn more about the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services on its website.