Vol 57 No. 9 : May 2005
Vol 57 No. 9 | May 2005
Professors Help Bring “Kinship Care” to L.A. County
Thanks to a new curriculum developed in CSULB's Department of Social Work, new hires for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are gaining fresh insights into “kinship care.” That's the program where relatives take care of their youngest family members because of abuse, neglect, and other family challenges.
The six-hour curriculum, with additional modules for faculty to use for classroom teaching, is co-authored by Social Work's Eileen Mayers Pasztor, who joined the university in 1999, along with Social Work's Catherine C. Goodman and Marilyn Potts, who focus on older adults and senior issues.
Titled “Kinship Caregivers and Social Workers: The Challenge of Collaboration,” it helps to prepare 21st century social workers to better promote the care of young children by their relatives, typically grandparents.
"This is an excellent opportunity funded by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) to create 'research to practice' or 'evidence-based' curriculum," said Pasztor.
The Collaboration Practice Model suggests there are four phases in kinship care services – assessing the kinship family, placing the child with kin, supervising the placement and closing the case; and that nine major issues that must be addressed during these four phases – legal status, financial support, health care, school, child behavior, family relationships, support services, fair and equal treatment and satisfaction and recommendations.
There are five collaboration competencies that should be integrated throughout the four phases and while addressing the nine issues. These competencies are to respect knowledge and skill of others; build trust by meeting needs; facilitate open communication; respect cultural traditions, values and diversity; and use negotiation skills. Addressing the phases, issues, and competences is intended to help lead to the achievement of three federally mandated outcomes for children placed away from parents: child safety, well-being and permanency.
When children need protection and nurturing, instead of being placed with foster families, they are placed with relatives or kin, typically grandparents and most typically grandmothers. With more than 30,000 children in Los Angeles in the custody of DCFS, many are now living with relatives or extended family members instead of foster parents.
"This creates a whole set of dynamics involving financial and legal issues, health and mental health challenges, family relationships, school problems, etcetera, Pasztor explained. "In our research, our youngest grandmother was in her early 30s, the oldest in her 80s. We did focus groups of kinship caregivers and caseworkers resulting in 210 pages of narrative examples of challenges. From that, we developed a competency-based curriculum. In addition to training every brand-new caseworker (new hires), beginning this spring we will train every experienced caseworker in all of DCFS, as well." Pasztor is pleased to have an impact on tomorrow's social workers.
"We have completed one round of 'new hire' training here at our CSULB Child Welfare Training Center and at other centers around the county (sponsored by CSULA in Pasadena, UCLA in Torrance, and USC)," she explained. “The evaluations are excellent and having a co-trainer who is a kinship caregiver herself lends extra credibility.”
Pasztor has more than 30 years of experience in the child welfare field as a public agency caseworker, supervisor and administrator; as a curriculum developer and trainer working internationally; as an educator; and as a foster and adoptive parent for children with special needs.
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