DHS Practice Standards and Bridge Resource Family Guiding Principles

DHS Child Welfare Practice Standards and Bridge Resource Family Guiding Principles were developed to guide both DHS and you, as a Bridge resource family, in the work we do and the care we provide for families and children.

1. We continually examine our use (misuse) of power, use of self and personal values and biases, ensuring they do not interfere with our ability to partner with families.

DHS

  • We must be aware of and recognize how we use the power of the position.
  • Our use of team supports the process of examining personal biases and use of self.
  • We believe in the importance of hearing all voices – whether we agree or not.
  • We continually assess our personal biases and styles, ensuring that they do not interfere with our ability to partner with families; at the same time we will regularly enter into discussions/ mentoring with our supervisors (at all levels) about personal biases and the way they are impacting our work.

Bridge

  • We allow ourselves to imagine and feel the experiences of families as we work to assist them in accomplishing their goals.
  • It is critical that families see and believe that we are genuine and that we care.
  • We are aware of and recognize how we use (misuse) the power of the position of being resource parents.
  • We regularly enter into discussions and consult with the child welfare team about personal biases, and the way they impact our work with children and families.

2. We respect the children and families we serve.

DHS

  • We separate what parents have done from who they are.
  • Address the issues instead of judging.
  • Behave as if we are a visitor in the family’s home – a visitor with a purpose.
  • Learn about their life demands and value their time.
  • Be humble, understanding that “any given day” it could be us.
  • We hold a belief that people can change – with the right tools and resources.

Bridge

  • We separate what parents have done from who they are.
  • We remain humble, understanding that “any given day” it could be us.
  • We hold a belief that people can change – with the right tools and resources.
  • We hold a belief that partnering between the child’s family and the Bridge family supports children.

3. We listen to the voice of children and youth.

DHS

  • We have frequent and meaningful conversations with children about what they need to feel safe, using language and making decisions that respects their love for their family and their need for connection to their culture.
  • We ensure that children have accurate • information and understand what is happening in their lives.
  • We actively find ways for children to contribute • and have an influence and a sense of control on the decisions made about their lives; being honest about their options and choices.
  • We frequently engage children in conversations about how to improve our system.

Bridge

  • We have frequent and meaningful conversations with children and youth about what they need to feel safe.
  • We use language and make decisions which respect their love for their family, and their need to connect to their culture.
  • We ensure that children and youth have accurate information and understand what is happening in their lives.
  • We actively find ways for children and youth to contribute and have influence and a sense of control on the decisions made about their lives; being honest about their options and choices.

4. We continuously seek to learn who families are and what they need.

DHS

  • We do not make assumptions about families. They are the expert of their own lives and often have solutions to their own problems. We create an environment where families can teach us about who they are and what they need.
  • We communicate with families in their primary language in order to understand their experiences, their culture and how they make parenting decisions.
  • We are students of the culture, race and ethnicity of the families we serve – and we actively use this information as we join with families in planning and decision making.
  • We have an attitude that we can make a difference – there are the informal supports and resources if we look hard enough and partner effectively with the family and community.

Bridge

  • We do not make assumptions about families.
  • We communicate with families in their language in order to understand their experiences and culture.
  • We have the attitude that we can make a difference.
  • We actively learn about the culture, race and ethnicity of the children placed in our homes to support their continued connections.

5. We believe in the value of “nothing about us without us.” We effectively communicate through teamwork, which yields the best results for children and families.

DHS

  • When we interact with family, we engage in a conversation that builds relationships, we ask strength-focused questions, we listen and the learning allows us to develop effective service plans.
  • The family, the worker and community partners develop common goals that acknowledge the family’s perspectives and the child’s need for safety, permanency and well-being.
  • We are transparent with one another to ensure clarity regarding what we are thinking, our concerns and why we are focusing on certain areas of safety and permanency.
  • We actively find ways for families to contribute and have control over their own lives.
  • We actively engage resource families in the process of teaming, information sharing and decision making.

Bridge

  • We are engaged in the process of teamwork, information sharing and decision making.
  • We honor the confidentiality of the information about the child’s family.

6. We maintain a child’s permanent connection to kin, culture and community.

DHS

  • Young adults need to be informed about their choices, they need to understand what happens to them, and they need to consistently maintain contact with their worker.
  • Visitation between a child and their family is a child’s right.
  • Families belong together and we maintain optimal connection between a child, their family and their culture.
    We seek to place siblings together; and if we cannot we create frequent opportunities for them to see one another.
  • As we make decisions about placement, we consider all of the implications for the child… understanding that every time a child is removed, there is emotional harm.
  • We maintain a sense of urgency, knowing that every day a child is in out-of-home care is harmful.

Bridge

  • We recognize visitation between a child and their family is a child’s right.
  • We understand families belong together and as Bridge Resource parents will help maintain optimal connections between a child and their family, their culture and their community.
  • We believe siblings should be placed together; but if they are not, we help create frequent opportunities for them to see one another.

7. We conduct our work with integrity at all levels of the agency and create a standard of excellence and cooperation in the work we do.

DHS

  • There is a standard of excellence and cooperation that permeates the work of the agency.
  • We are compassionate with one another and we have the difficult conversations about the pain and complexity of this work.
  • We formally provide support, an opportunity for debriefing and stress relief for our workers and supervisors so that they can continue to do the
    work well.
  • We communicate honestly and we do what we say we are going to do.
  • We actively educate other systems about the needs of children and families and about best practices in child welfare.
  • We hold one another accountable to being respectful and courteous, valuing and supporting each other – letting go of territorial issues and working together to accomplish our collective goals.

Bridge

  • We promote safety (children are not abused/ neglected in out-of-home care).
  • We support stability (children do not move unless absolutely necessary).
  • We encourage self-sufficiency (empower and teach self protection and life skills).

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