Why do we do this? Why do we foster and adopt? Despite all of the trauma that we have experienced on this mission of ours, I believe that there is only one answer. We do this for them. Each and every one of us took on this calling because we wanted children to feel safe, we wanted children to feel loved. We want children to achieve their full potential and to go on to be productive members of society.
This past weekend I had the privilege to do a presentation for Foster Arizona and AZAFAP. Close to 150 people attended this training titled “Advocate Now for Your Child’s Behavioral Health Needs”. As I stepped onto the stage to present, I looked out at the audience consisting of CASA’s, GAL’s, Licensing and DCS Specialists, Providers, Foster, Kinship and Adoptive families and as I looked at their faces, I realized that each one of us came into this field because we wanted to make a difference. We want children to receive the right supports and services so that they can experience a full life, that’s truly the thread that binds us all together. My desire is to work myself out of a job because that would mean that families know how to advocate and are receiving timely services for the children in their care.
About my job; never in a million years did I think that I would create a nonprofit that serves our foster and adoptive families, nor did I ever picture myself holding trainings to educate others on Jacob’s Law. I was so inspired after hearing families testify to our legislators about the barriers they faced in obtaining timely services for their children that I knew my advocacy efforts would not end there. This past year I believe that I have come to learn that educating caregivers is the key to our children’s success. One of the ways to do that is to learn the ins and outs of our child serving systems. On the behavioral health side it’s learning about Rapid Response, timeless around assessments and the initiation of services. Learning important numbers such as the Dedicated Foster Care Hotline, Crisis Line, RBHA Children’s Liaison, AHCCCS Foster Care Community Liaison and the Clinical Resolution Team. Learning all about Voice and Choice and how to file Grievances (formal complaints) and appeals. Knowing that Child and Family Team Meetings (CFT’s) followed to fidelity can positively change our children’s lives. Ensuring that your child has their voice included in the development of their service plan. If your child has High Needs Case Management you want to take part on their CASii assessment, you want to have a Crisis Plan and a Safety Plan that focuses on prevention and know that the Crisis Line, police and psych units should be used as a last resort. These are living, breathing documents and I would encourage you to read the CFT Practice Tool. Research the different type of specialty providers and services that are out there, connect with other families that can be your natural support systems so that when your child reaches their goal, your natural support can still be there. Hospital discharge planning is another topic that families need to educate themselves on as well as attending trainings which can give you in-the moment skills.
These are just a few of the ways to ensure that our children are on the right path to success, however, we cannot share water from our well when the well is dry, so please be sure to practice self-care. Connecting our children to the right behavioral health services when needed is just one of the ways that as caregivers we can ensure that their future starts looking brighter each and every day. If you would like to learn more about some of the topics discussed, please sign up to attend one of our future trainings. I look forward to hearing where your advocacy efforts will lead you.
Anika Robinson is the proud parent of 10 children. Four biological, four adopted and 2 foster children. She has been a licensed foster parent for 10 years and is the president of ASA Now, a nonprofit which Advocates, Supports and Assists families and children in Need. Their events consist of trainings, support groups, parent night outs, foster children birthdays, teen skills, couples’ and moms’ retreats, Christmas for kinship families. Anika is also the Foster Care Community Liaison for AHCCCS. She welcomes your feedback regarding celebrations, concerns, barriers and solutions that could resolve issues that impact service delivery. Working under the Division of Health Care Advocacy and Advancement, she wants to ensure that your voice is included in the design, implementation, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of services funded through AHCCCS.
To learn more about ASA Now or to sign up for one of their upcoming events go to www.asanow.org