"Make us feel important and take an interest in our lives.”
“You need to be ‘real’ in order for us to want to talk to you.”
“Without making it too obvious, pull me aside at some point and talk to me. Ask me what I need, rather than trying to guess.”
“There are a lot of adults in my life that I’m ‘supposed’ to talk to and trust. But that’s not the same as trusting someone … just because of who they are.”
“Even though I want to blend in, I want to stand out … not for being in foster care, but for being special, funny and interesting.”
Kind-spirited humour goes a long way with young people. It shows that you can relax and enjoy life and relationships. Find things to laugh about together. Some young people like telling jokes, and pre-teens and teenagers enjoy learning how to use humour appropriately in social situations. Laughing at yourself and your own mistakes shows humility and makes you seem real and more approachable.
Many youth in care express appreciation later on in life for adults that ‘hung in with them’ during difficult times in their lives.
Personal disclosures such as stories about your pet, favourite sports team or personal passions create opportunities to talk in general and can help identify common interests.
Then, if a crisis arises, your assistance will be welcomed.
Although abuse or neglect is often implied if in care, be wary of asking for personal information about the past that is not necessary to developing a meaningful relationship.
Making assumptions about how the young person feels or what she wants will disrupt your relationship.
There is a lot of unavoidable bureaucracy that young people in care have to deal with. It is important to keep it simple and commit to promises.
Young people in care want to blend in and be treated like everyone else.
The young person has much more going on in their life than being a child or youth in care.
Young people often have semi-developed goals for their future. Even if you believe their dream is far-fetched (e.g., playing in the NHL, becoming a singer or movie-star), help break down their goals into smaller, more manageable tasks that get them involved at school or in the community (e.g., joining a hockey team, arranging voice lessons, taking a role in a school play).
Use clear language to communicate your expectation that he will graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education or work training.
Respectfully point out how choices or actions may get in the way of goals.
Prior to the first team meeting, explain the purpose of the meeting and who will be there.
Ask the young person if there is anyone they want to invite to the team meeting as personal support.
Look for opportunities to build on their strengths.
Use challenges as a learning opportunity.
As a team, remember to stay on task.
Work together to identify who can provide additional support.
Develop a plan with the young person about managing stressful situations.
Arrange a meeting between a young person and the appropriate cultural liaison for the school, when appropriate.
Talk with the young person about his experience of safety at school and in the community.
Identify who in the school will go out of their way to check in with the young person on a regular basis. This person should look for opportunities to make the young person feel special and unique.
Invite the young person to participate in school activities or events.
Be innovative in developing opportunities for participation.
Ensure the young person has various outlets for expression.