How do you know where you belong if you do not know where you come from?
The targeted youth are easy to identify. They will have already had a lengthy history of receiving authority services. The authority will have made numerous unsuccessful attempts to engage the youth and family in well-resourced efforts to support the family in maintaining its integrity. The level of intrusiveness will have increased over time. The youth will experience several out-of-home placements, seldom returning to the same caregivers when the return home attempts fail. Many will have also experienced extensive trauma through, emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse by the time they are placed with us. They will be several grade levels below their potential and may suffer from severe effects of Trauma and have dual diagnosis. Many will be under permanent guardianship orders with only a tenuous connection to their families.
We want to ensure that all children/youth understand where they come from, and we want to create a “Home away from Home” specifically for Indigenous youth. We advocate for a return to family however we understand that sometimes this may not be in the youth’s best interest, although we feel maintaining family connections always are.
Many of the youth who have witnessed/experienced violence/abuse will continue to exhibit the symptoms of Trauma and have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or other developmental delays. Children who have experienced early and persistent relationship disruption will exhibit the symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder. A portion of the children will qualify for the diagnosis of Conduct Disorder or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, both serious designations with often poor prognosis. And finally, there may be a variety of substance abuse issues and disorders. This extensive list of issues, events and difficulties describes many of the youth needing the benefit of stable, emotionally, and physically secure relationships to achieve the best possible maturational development. However, the potential contradictory requirement to balance the needs of children with the desire to maximize the on-going integrity of the child’s family makes relational stability much sought after but seldom achieved.
The core of any successful Prevention strategy is development of relationships with goals to help youth move through the Stages of Change to arrest the progress of an established event and to control its negative consequences: to reduce disability and stigma, to minimize suffering caused by existing Trauma, Loss and Grief, and to promote the youth’s adjustment to irremediable conditions, "Minimize the consequences." The relationships must be positive, constructive, purposeful, and long term. This relationship is not a friendship, but rather a relationship with a purpose that is built on care, trust, and respect and must preserve cultural, familial, and territorial connections.
To be in these positive, purposeful, constructive, and long-term relationships with youth, and families, we must believe that they can change and understand that it takes time to build these relationships. We must with the help of their communities, work with the youth and families to create concrete developments to start to heal what took years to create and prevent any further damage and decrease high-risk behaviors.
We can do this through collaboration and by encompassing the Indigenous community into the agency. We welcome the Elders from the community into the homes to create a learning experience and provide teachings for the youth from their nations so that they know where they come from and understand they may return. We are willing to dedicate our home strictly for the use of a single Indigenous Community at the request of their Chiefs, Council and Children’s Services Director and incorporate their policies, customs, and traditions. We will ensure that our staffing is experienced in Trauma Informed Care and Indigenous Culture, and we will try to hire Indigenous staff from the community we are engaging with to ensure continuity of culture.
The agency together with the caseworker will evaluate each intake on a case-by-case basis however we are not equipped for physical disabilities requiring wheelchairs or extensive medical care at this time.