Children Living in Transition

Children Living in Transition: Helping Homeless and Foster Care Children and Families

Cheryl Zlotnick EDITOR
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/zlot16096
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  • Book Info
    Children Living in Transition
    Book Description:

    Sharing the daily struggles of children and families residing in transitional situations (homelessness or because of risk of homelessness, being connected with the child welfare system, or being new immigrants in temporary housing), this text recommends strategies for delivering mental health and intensive case-management services that maintain family integrity and stability. Based on work undertaken at the Center for the Vulnerable Child in Oakland, California, which has provided mental health and intensive case management to children and families living in transition for more than two decades, this volume outlines culturally sensitive practices to engage families that feel disrespected by the assistance of helping professionals or betrayed by their forgotten promises. Chapters discuss the Center's staffers' attempt to trace the influence of power, privilege, and beliefs on their education and their approach to treatment. Many U.S. children living in impoverished transitional situations are of color and come from generations of poverty, and the professionals they encounter are white, middle-class, and college-educated. The Center's work to identify the influences or obstacles interfering with services for this target population is therefore critical to formulating more effective treatment, interaction, and care.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53600-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. IX-XIV)

    IN THE UNITED STATES, an increasing number of children are being shuffled from one transitional and temporary situation to another: living with family or friends, staying in homeless shelters, residing in other kinds of out-of-home placements (away from birth parents) such as foster care or group homes. Why are children and families living in these transitional situations? Many researchers and administrators believe there are two major contributing factors: (1) intergenerational poverty, combined with a shortage of affordable permanent housing, transitional housing, and long-term family shelters; and (2) parents suffering from trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse problems.

    For adults who...

  4. PART ONE Theories of Practice with Transitional Families
    • CHAPTER 1 Transitional Families: WHERE DO I BEGIN?
      (pp. 3-22)
      CHERYL ZLOTNICK and LUANN DEVOSS

      TRANSITIONAL FAMILIES ARE A UNIQUE and growing population. “Transitional” means that some aspect of the family is in flux. It can be the family structure, the living situation, or both. There is no single type of transitional family. An example of a transitional living situation is homelessness, which is most apparent when families are living in shelters. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2010), 1.56 million people used homeless shelters and emergency homeless centers between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009, and a third of them were families. Some homeless individuals and families are constantly...

    • CHAPTER 2 “We Don’t Get Whuppings Here Anymore”: TOWARD A COLLABORATIVE, ECOLOGICAL MODEL OF PARENTING
      (pp. 23-43)
      MARGUERITE A. WRIGHT

      THE BESIEGED MOTHER, LENA, seemed hassled, frantic, and overwhelmed. She entered my office with her rambunctious 9-year-old boy, Aaron, trailing grudgingly behind her. “Do you want another whupping? Get your [expletive] behind in here,” she yelled. He looked scared as he scampered into the room. To me, she said, “Excuse my language but this boy is driving me nuts. If I have to go up to this brat’s school one more time to get him, I might lose my job.” Aaron had received several suspensions from his school for his aggressive, defiant, and disruptive behaviors. This last infraction was “too...

    • CHAPTER 3 Giving Voice: AN EXPLORATION OF THE INTEGRATION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE AND INFANT MENTAL HEALTH
      (pp. 44-62)
      ERICA TORRES and KATHRYN ORFIRER

      STELLA MARTINEZ, A 10-MONTH-OLD biracial (African American and Latina) girl, was cold, hungry, and terrified. Wearing nothing but her diaper and swaddled in a thin blanket, she was lying on the sidewalk of a busy street. The ground was hard and uncomfortable, and Stella did not know how long she had been lying there. She watched in terror as her parents yelled, shoved, and hit each other. Her parents, high on methamphetamines, were loud and unpredictable. She had a deep desire to be held and comforted by someone; anyone would do at this point, but she had given up on...

  5. PART TWO Preparing the Organization for Its Work with Transitional Families
    • CHAPTER 4 Letting Some Air into the Room: OPENING AGENCY SPACE FOR CONSIDERATIONS OF CULTURE AND POWER
      (pp. 65-83)
      LISA R. BERNDT

      THIS IS A STORY OF ONE AGENCY’S movement to respond to the questions posed above. It is a story of what happened at a time in our history when the status quo became unbearable for enough of us that we were willing to work toward change. It is a story of a process of awakening to the privilege and power that we wield as individuals, as a hospital-based department, and as part of bigger systems; and it is part of an ongoing story of our efforts to use that privilege and power responsibly. It is a story of our efforts...

    • CHAPTER 5 Rediscovering Positive Work Relationships Within a Diverse Relationship-Based Organization: SERVING CHILDREN IN TRANSITION
      (pp. 84-106)
      KAREN THOMAS

      THE CVC IS AN ORGANIZATION THAT strives to lessen the life challenges of children and families in transition, including homeless families and children in foster care. The CVC is also a relationship-based organization. This means that the CVC’s clinical services are founded on the belief that therapeutic change can best take place within the context of a positive, empathic relationship with the clinician. Further, clinical supervision is built around a belief in, and commitment to, the parallel process between the patient-clinician and clinician-supervisor relationships. Clinicians can best support client families when they are afforded a similar level of support in...

  6. PART THREE Promising Programs and Culturally Informed Interventions
    • [PART 3 Introduction]
      (pp. 107-108)

      The chapters in this section describe an array of different programs and interventions targeting children living in transition. Effective programs begin with effective practitioners. For that reason, the first chapter of the section, Chapter 6, is an autobiographical account of entering the foster care system, written by a psychologist who reflects on how the memories of those events inform her current clinical practice. This narrative clearly illustrates the importance of respectful, culturally informed clinical interactions to promote trust and reduce further trauma. The same themes are echoed throughout the section. Each chapter describes: (1) the program’s interventions and the evidence...

    • CHAPTER 6 Transforming Shame: ALLOWING MEMORIES IN FOSTER CARE TO INFORM INTERVENTIONS WITH FOSTER YOUTH
      (pp. 109-119)
      LOU FELIPE

      DURING ONE OF MY TRAINING years as a predoctoral clinical psychology intern, I worked at a program serving foster youth and their families. As a person who was once part of the foster care system, I find that my past has given me a unique sense of empathy and compassion for working with youth who are currently involved in the foster care system. Albeit brief, my experiences as a youth under court supervision were undeniably impactful, and there have been many ways in which those experiences have informed my decisions as a child and family therapist. My decision to become...

    • CHAPTER 7 Crossing the Border and Facing the System: CHALLENGES IMMIGRANT FAMILIES EXPERIENCE WHEN A CHILD IS REMOVED FROM THEIR CARE AND PLACED INTO THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
      (pp. 120-137)
      ROSARIO MURGA-KUSNIR

      “LATINO” IS A CLASSIFICATION THAT INCLUDES people from Mexico, Central America, South America, and part of the Caribbean islands. They are from urban and rural areas, from different ethnic backgrounds (Indigenous, Caucasian, African, Asian, and mixed races), economic statuses, sociopolitical histories, and cultures. In 2010 more than 16% of the U.S. population was Latino or Hispanic; this represents a 43% increase from 10 years earlier (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010). Not all Latinos immigrate to the United States for the same reason. Some are forced to leave their countries because of war, violence, displacement, or natural disasters. Others voluntarily...

    • CHAPTER 8 “I Am Bad!”
      (pp. 138-163)
      ROBERTO MACIAS SANCHEZ

      IT WOULD NOT BE SURPRISING to hear adults label themselves as bad, but it is unusual—even painful—to hear 4-or 5-year-old children refer to themselves with this negative label. How could children with a still-developing identity already settle on the idea that they are bad? What experiences contributed to this negative self-image? These questions are not easy to answer. What is clear is that there are many layers to this complicated issue, and the more layers that we deal with, and the earlier that we do it, the easier it will be to reverse the self-perception of “I am...

    • CHAPTER 9 “When Do I Get to Go Home?”
      (pp. 164-181)
      PEGGY PEARSON

      THIS CHAPTER PRESENTS TWO VIGNETTES about children followed in our clinic in order to demonstrate a unique model that combines research-informed practices of case management and pediatric care. The Center for the Vulnerable Child (CVC) is a department within Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland (CHRCO) that serves families who are homeless, those who are at risk for homelessness, and foster children. It was created in the late 1980s when a pediatrician at CHRCO, Dr. Neal Halfon, noted the vast array of needs of foster children and realized that those needs went beyond what a doctor could address in the...

    • CHAPTER 10 The CATS Project: HELPING FAMILIES LAND ON THEIR FEET
      (pp. 182-202)
      VANCE HITCHNER

      SOME FAMILIES ENCOUNTER HARDSHIPS THAT overwhelm them. Often these hardships have roots that date back a generation or more, with repeated cycles of trauma and response.

      For example, consider the family headed by Lena, a single African American mother whose life began a long downhill descent after she was raped when she was 10 years old. By the time she was 14 Lena had turned to alcohol and drugs to seek relief from the chronic nightmares, anger, irritability, and somatic complaints that began after the attack. She got pregnant when she was 17 years old and dropped out of high...

  7. PART FOUR Needs for the Future
    • CHAPTER 11 A Systems Dilemma: INTERGENERATIONAL FOSTER CARE AND HOMELESSNESS
      (pp. 205-228)
      CHERYL ZLOTNICK

      LEONA’S EARLIEST MEMORY WAS HER mother’s frenzied screams to not move or break anything. Now 25 years old, she vividly recalls absorbing her mother’s anxiety as she rigidly sat on someone’s sofa trying to “behave.” They had just moved to a new place. Rarely did she and her mother stay any place longer than a month. Leona’s other childhood memories were tinged with fear, frustration, and anger as she remembers living in a blur of different people’s homes and homeless shelters. The short stays in people’s homes were the most difficult. Not because of the locations—sometimes they lived in...

  8. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 229-230)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 231-244)