Child Welfare Professionals Weigh in on ARC Reflections

Posted January 26, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
ARC Reflections helps foster parents build important skills

Child wel­fare pro­fes­sion­als and agency lead­ers have embraced ARC Reflec­tions, a new skill-build­ing cur­ricu­lum from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Jus­tice Resource Insti­tute that helps fos­ter par­ents, kin and oth­er care­givers sup­port chil­dren who have expe­ri­enced trauma.

The cur­ricu­lum, which is avail­able for free, includes all the need­ed train­ing mate­ri­als — from an imple­men­ta­tion guide and Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions to facil­i­ta­tor guides, a case man­ag­er guide and more.

In loca­tions that have imple­ment­ed ARC Reflec­tions to date, pre­lim­i­nary results and feed­back from fos­ter par­ents indi­cate that the train­ing is work­ing. One exam­ple: In Lin­coln Coun­ty, North Car­oli­na, the cur­ricu­lum has helped pre­vent dis­rup­tions in fos­ter care place­ments and encour­aged more care­givers to par­ent a wider vari­ety of kids, accord­ing to Sandy Kennedy, who serves as the fos­ter care and adop­tion pro­gram man­ag­er for the county’s Depart­ment of Social Services.

We have had bet­ter suc­cess with fos­ter par­ents tak­ing in chil­dren who have been hard­er to place,” says Kennedy, who imple­ment­ed ARC Reflec­tions as part of the curriculum’s pilot phase. Before ARC Reflec­tions train­ing, they might have said, No, that child is too high main­te­nance for me.’”

The cur­ricu­lum, which is based on an inter­ven­tion frame­work called Attach­ment, Reg­u­la­tion and Com­pe­ten­cy, spans nine ses­sions run­ning two hours apiece. Despite this sub­stan­tial time com­mit­ment, par­tic­i­pants have found the train­ing well worth it. Care­givers felt this par­tic­u­lar train­ing was dif­fer­ent because there were hands-on tools that they could take back and use in the home,” said Kris­tine Kin­niburgh, who co-authored the cur­ricu­lum. Co-writer Mar­garet Blaustein agrees, adding that fos­ter par­ents have a lot to dis­cuss with each oth­er and receive valu­able sup­port and feed­back from care­givers with sim­i­lar ques­tions and experiences.

Ear­ly input from par­ents and child wel­fare pro­fes­sion­als also under­scores the impor­tance of select­ing the right ARC Reflec­tions facil­i­ta­tor. Effec­tive train­ers need time to absorb the curriculum’s exten­sive con­tent and must be com­fort­able facil­i­tat­ing con­ver­sa­tions about race, iden­ti­ty and oth­er topics.

These mod­ules illic­it emo­tion,” says Dana Trow­er, super­vi­sor of the Recruit­ment, Home Study and Train­ing Unit in Fair­fax Coun­ty, Vir­ginia. You need some­one who is going to get the con­tent out there but who is also able to sup­port the fam­i­lies as their emo­tions come out.”

Anoth­er les­son learned? Split the train­ing duties between an agency staff mem­ber and an expe­ri­enced fos­ter par­ent. I’ve nev­er fos­tered a child a day in my life,” Kennedy says. My infor­ma­tion is book learn­ing. The infor­ma­tion from our fos­ter par­ent was hands-on. The fos­ter par­ent co-train­er was a huge resource for us.”

Buoyed by these suc­cess­es, the cur­ricu­lum is here to stay, accord­ing to child wel­fare lead­ers who have seen the impact of ARC Reflec­tions first­hand. The over­all feed­back from agency staff and fos­ter par­ents has been very pos­i­tive,” says Kei­th Wong, pro­gram man­ag­er for Fos­ter Care and Adop­tion, Resource and Sup­port, in Fair­fax Coun­ty. We are plan­ning to train every sin­gle fos­ter parent.”

Access all the ARC Reflec­tions train­ing materials

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