Advocate News


11.01.2016

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Advocate Tip: Building Rapport with PMC Youth

BUILDING RAPPORT WITH PMC YOUTH

In 2012 there were 251,764 children that were placed in the foster care system. Of those children 23,439 aged out of care. The statistics for those that aged out of care in 2012 are very drastic. One out of 5 children became homeless after age 18, only half will be employed by 24, less than 3 % will earn a college degree, 71 % of young women will become pregnant by the age of 21, and 25% will experience PTSD. These statistics highlights some of the reasons why there is such a great need for every PMC youth in long-term foster care to have a CASA Advocate. Unfortunately, PMC youth in long-term foster care have often created barriers that can separate the youth from their advocate. These barriers can sometimes impede an advocate’s desire to help and their ability to develop rapport. However, there are some tips that can help advocates establish a healthy and productive relationship between themselves and their PMC youth.

Visit Regularly

While it is very important to meet and visit with all of your CASA children regularly, this is especially true for PMC youth. If you tell your PMC youth that you will be out to visit them on a specific day and time, keep your word. If your plans change and you cannot make the visit or will be late, make sure to communicate this to your CASA youth. For PMC youth that are placed in distant placements, phone calls are a great way to maintain a relationship with them, even if face-to-face visits are limited. Remember that PMC youth have experienced a multitude of changes, including having their parent’s rights restricted or terminated, placement disruptions, and changes in caseworkers, while they have been in care. Additionally, 46% of children in foster care are placed in a non-relative foster home. The constant change of people and placements, often leaves these children with a tough exterior. Maintaining a presence in their lives through regular visits is an important part of helping them build their trust in their CASA advocate.

Be Present

In your interactions with PMC youth, be present and make your time together about them. Giving your PMC youth your undivided attention during visits will go a long way in building your relationship with them and becoming someone that the youth can go to when they are having a bad day. Every PMC youth has multiple people making decisions about their life, and talking to them about their behaviors. Building your relationship and rapport with your PMC youth will open the doors to discuss these and other issues, and the youth will be able to trust that you have their best interest in mind.

Create Boundaries and Remain Objective

Creating boundaries and remaining objective are keys to gaining rapport with this population. It is important to recognize and clarify to the youth that you are not their therapist. As your PMC youth develops their trust in you, they may begin to disclose to you past or current incidents involving their behaviors or abuse. A great statement to tell the child is: “If you can trust me enough to tell me this, you can trust me with what I will do with it.” Setting that clarification will allow you to not “break trust” by telling any information to therapist and/or caseworker if necessary. There should be a clear line of expectations between you and the child. You should be mindful that it is important not to give the child everything that they ask for or to buy them a lot of material things. Communicating with your PMC youth about those expectations and boundaries is a great way to avoid manipulation and maintain your objectivity.

Questions:

What is the percentage of foster children placed in a non-relative foster home?
Explain why it is important to visit with PMC youth regularly.
How can advocates clarify their role to their PMC youth and develop boundaries?

To receive 1 hour worth of training credit, read the above article and submit answers to the accompanying training questions to Leticia Hernandez at lhernandez@casa-satx.org.

Advocate Tip: Building Rapport with PMC Youth