Virtual Training a Reality for Adoption Professionals

COVID-19 brings changes to the adoption field.

Buffalo, NY, May 07, 2020 --( “Business as usual during an unusual time,” states Michele Fried, founder and CEO of Adoption STAR, Inc., an adoption agency focusing on identifying families for children throughout the United States from infancy through age 21.

Adoption STAR was built on a foundation that education is paramount and requires their staff to receive at least 15 hours per year of adoption related education in addition to requiring prospective adoptive parents to attend pre-adoption classes as part of their adoption process. These classes typically take place in Amherst, New York and Cincinnati, Ohio. Due to COVID-19 these classes are now being provided virtually.

Each year Adoption STAR hosts over 50 employees and contractors for a day filled with professional education. This year that plan turned virtual.

On Friday, May 1, 2020, the entire staff of Adoption STAR including those from all three locations, NY, FL and OH joined in a virtual all-day conference. The lead educator will be Sue Badeau is well-known in the child welfare field, she is an educator, author and consultant. Badeau worked for many years in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She currently serves on several national and international boards including the Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment (ATTACh), Justice for Families and Imara International. Sue writes and speaks extensively to public & private agencies, prison systems, courts, parent groups, churches and missions in the United States, Canada and Kenya. She has worked closely with the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), National Child Traumatic Stress Network, A Second Chance, Inc., All Children, All Families, the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Casey Family Programs and was the Deputy Director of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. Badeau has developed curricula and provided training in all fifty states, several Tribal nations and internationally in North America and Africa. Badeau and her husband are lifetime parents of twenty-two children, two by birth and twenty adopted. They have also served as foster parents to several dozen children and twice hosted refugees from Kosovo and Sudan. They have co-authored a book about their family’s parenting journey, Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. Badeau also co-authored a book with one of her adult children on child trauma, Building Bridges of Hope: A Coloring Book for Adults Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and a companion volume for children entitled Bubbles and Butterflies.

The all-day event was broken out into three sessions. Part I: Loss, Grief and Self-Care During a Global Pandemic - In child welfare, whether as a case worker or a caregiver, we must be prepared to welcome a new child at any hour, address a wide array of behaviors, and follow all agency regulations, policies and paperwork. In recent times, with the onset of COVID-19, we are finding we must do all of this and more without our usual resources, tools approaches. In the midst of all this, we are also often faced with our own emotions – grief, loss, anger, confusion, frustration – and the very real impact of secondary trauma. How do we cope with this mix of emotions while also doing our job? This portion of the day helped participants to understand, express and cope with their own emotions as well as creating a self-care plan to develop resilience in the face of uncertainty and circumstances that chance daily. Part II: Supporting Families in New Ways - With even small gatherings strongly discouraged, schools are closed, and many parents unexpectedly working from home or worse – out of work altogether, how do we as child welfare workers ensure that we are able to provide families with the support they need and give them encouragement as they seek to care for the children in their homes? How can we assess families when working almost entirely virtually? For times like these – and even when the crisis ends and we are back working in more traditional ways with families - what strategies can we use to have hard conversations and, at times, to make difficult assessments. This portion of the day provided practical tips and tools for social workers on the front lines. Part III: Tips for Engaging Children - Foster, kin and adoptive families suddenly find themselves caring for and even schooling at home for children who already have histories of trauma and perhaps other special needs. This portion of the training provided concrete tips for how adults can talk to and support the children in their care at times such as this. Social workers learned strategies to share with parents and caregivers as well as tips to use during their own engagement with children in foster and adoptive families.

“Just as many areas of our personal and professional lives have been affected, adoption has needed to change due to the realities of this virus,” Fried said.

Fried and her team at Adoption STAR are truly busy, “It is business as usual during an unusual time, utilizing creative ways to continue this important work.”
Adoption STAR, Inc.
Michele Fried