During the month of March we are invited to honor social workers, many of whom are the lynchpins of the foster care system—caseworkers. These are the people who have the day-to-day responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of children who have come to the attention of the child welfare system. Most children enter foster care because of neglect—some because of abuse—physical and/or sexual.
It was 1995, and we had just started A Home Within. Seven-year-old Kelsey was one of the first foster children referred for open-ended therapy, but she was NOT happy about it. She routinely and loudly told her therapist, Dr. B, that he was dumb and didn’t understand anything at all about kids. She didn’t like his toys and didn’t want to play any of his games. Mostly, she announced that she didn’t understand why he didn’t have snacks, which was for her the clearest evidence that he was stupid.
Thanks to the determined efforts of young people in the foster care system, President Obama recently signed into law a bi-partisan, bi-cameral bill, H.R. 4980, The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. This act brought together several initiatives aimed at improving the lives of children in the child welfare system.
Very young children do not know who they are. They learn about themselves from those who care for them—those who narrate their days for them, who describe their likes and dislikes, who tell them what makes them laugh and what makes them cry.