Saturday, August 2, 2008

For Children in Care

Some Thoughts on the Work

By Drew Moore and Christopher Kinman

We all (including children in care) experience our world, our place within that world and ourselves only through the context of relationship.

Children and youth have a persistent impulse towards health, growth and relationship. We need to recognize this impulse, honour the impulse, and find ways of gently joining with the child or youth in this impulse.

Children and youth often engage in conversations using nonverbal means to express their desires and needs in relation to their growth and development.

Children and youth present behaviours that express their understanding of themselves and their world. These behaviours are the equivalent of words, and they are the child’s or youth’s best efforts at expressing himself or herself at that particular point in time.

We wish to see any changes occurring for a child or youth (whether desirable or non-desirable) to be a movement toward his/her own maturity -- emotional, psychological, physiological and spiritual maturity. These changes always occur in conjunction with significant relationships within her/his world.

The relationship between caregivers and the youth is the point where the most potential for growth and development occur. We say caregivers (plural) because we include the assigned caregiver(s) and the child’s or youth’s own family and community.

We see it as our work to maintain a primary focus upon the relationship between caregivers and the child or youth. This relationship-location is where life-effecting work occurs. Therefore, we understand our work as with relationships, not with individual people. Even when talking with individuals, we still see such a conversation as a work of relationship.

In order to fully support this work those surrounding the caregivers and child or youth must view themselves as in positions of support – not authority. Our work is to enable such a network of rhizome-relationships to work toward the support of the relationships between child/youth and caregivers.

This is a work of relationship... this work creates environments that support and nurture the development, stability and longevity of relationships between those caring for children and youth and those children and youth being cared for. This includes the relationships between the caregiver and caregiver’s family, but it also includes the children’s or youth’s relationships with his/her own family and community.

Compassion is the only foundation that will effectively support the growth and development of the youth. This compassion must be circulated freely, not only directed one way. Compassion must be directed toward the caregivers as well as to the child or youth. To talk of compassion for the child or youth but not direct that compassion to the others connected to the child or youth is a breach in the movements of compassion. The children and youth will typically be the first to perceive such a breach, and to be troubled by it.

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