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Preparing Children for Permanency through Child Preparation and Child Profile Services at The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center

For more information on child preparation, child profiles or the SWAN Program at The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center, please contact the Adoption Department at 412-441-4884 or swanservices@chomepgh.org.

5324 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15224 phone: 41 2 .441.4884 toll free: 1.800.96 1.7704 fax: 41 2 .44 1. 5323 e-mail: swanservices@chomepgh.org www.childrenshomepgh.org www.facebook.com/ChildrensHomePgh


WHAT IS CHILD PREPARATION? Child Preparation is a Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) service that helps children in out-of-home care to understand their history and prepare for the future. This helps children to be well adjusted in their current placements and move toward their permanency goal, whether through adoption, legal custodianship, kinship care, reunification or independent living. The child’s caseworker decides that the child could benefit from child preparation and the service is then assigned to a SWAN affiliate agency, such as The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center, who provides the service.

HOW DOES THE CHILDREN’S HOME OF PITTSBURGH CONDUCT CHILD PREPARATION SERVICES? A social worker from The Children’s Home visits the child and his/her caregiver in the child’s place of residence or another mutually agreed upon location. The child receives special one-on-one attention, which aims to be both fun and therapeutic. Each session is thoughtfully planned, taking into account the uniqueness of each child. The child can choose from activities such as crafts, games, artwork, gardening, and cooking. Families can expect a minimum of 10 sessions over a six month period of time. The length of each session is based on the individual needs of the child and the child’s family.

WHAT IS A CHILD PROFILE? A child profile is a comprehensive report that includes a history of the child’s background and placements. It is written to reflect the uniqueness of each child and emphasizes his/her strengths. If the child reads the profile at a later age, the child will be able to obtain a thorough sense of past placements, birth family information, medical and educational history, and significant individuals in his/her life. The profile remains confidential, shared only with the county agency and potential resource families.

Child profiles are written for children having any permanency goal and are used for several purposes: To assure that a permanent caretaker of the child has a written history of the child’s life. To have as a resource for the child. To use for matching the child with an adoptive family, if the child’s goal is adoption.

WHAT IS A LIFEBOOK? All children have the opportunity to make lifebooks during their child preparation sessions. A lifebook is similar to a scrapbook, which provides a way for children to understand their past and present, while preparing for their future. A lifebook tells the story of a child’s life and may include things such as meaningful photos, birth information, artwork, school papers, favorite hobbies, birth family and other caregiver information, and mementos from siblings.

THE CHILD PREPARATION PHILOSOPHY The Issues: Children who have experienced great loss in their lives may struggle with issues such as grief, abandonment, identity, control, loyalty, attachment, and shame. As children prepare for permanency, it is important for them to understand the issues they are facing and the impact those issues have on their lives. Child preparation services help children to move forward and make connections with significant individuals in their lives. The Goals: Through the activities of child preparation, such as creating a lifebook, the child preparation workers help children understand what has happened in their lives, including the reasons they are in out-of-home care. Child preparation workers also help children understand how to be connected to more than one family. They help children look to the future and imagine themselves in a permanent living situation. The Process: Child preparation workers from The Children’s Home are skilled at engaging children in child preparation activities. They give children an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings through words, art work, games, and other activities. The child preparation workers at The Children’s Home are talented professionals, who listen, validate, and show compassion when children express themselves. They work to create an environment where children feel safe in sharing their feelings and understand that feelings such as pain or sadness are a natural part of the process. They also help children and their families learn tools to cope with these feelings of grief, sadness, and anxiety, which often accompany children in out-of-home placements.

HOW CAN A CHILD’S FAMILY HELP? In order to create a comprehensive child profile, the child profile writer attempts to obtain information from the child, caregivers, and the birth family. Additional information is obtained from the child’s file at the Children & Youth agency, as well as through any medical, educational, and therapeutic sources. A child’s family may be contacted by the child profile writer to provide anecdotal information and to make possible connections with other significant individuals in the child’s life. Any stories, memories, achievements, mementos, and photos can be shared with the child profile writer for inclusion in the profile, as well as for the child’s lifebook.

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