Family Finding locates family members and engages them in the ongoing care of their children. Family Group Decision Making offers a strength-based planning process to help children and families. The Permanency Practice Initiative combines these practices with the 3-5-7 Model.
- Clarification asks the child in question to make sense out of the events of his or her life. During this phase, the child will come to understand why he or she is in care and how he or she got to this point. This can be a lengthy process depending on the development of the child.
- During integration, the child realizes that he or she is a part of more than one family, and that it is not necessary to chose to be a member of one or another. Many children in care have lived with a variety of different family groups, and it is important for the child to assess what each of these relationships has meant to both he or she and the rest of the family.
- Actualization occurs when the child in question begins visualizing his or her membership in a specific family. No matter what permanency solution is to be implemented, it is vital that the child picture him or herself as living successfully and happily in that environment.
- Who Am I?
- The formation of an identity is a developmental process that is often interrupted by the trauma of adoption or placement in care. Before a child can develop meaningful relationships with others, he or she must develop a complete picture of self.
- What Happened To Me?
- Children do grieve, and it is imperative that children in placement find resolution. A child must work through his or her grief issues before bonding with a new family, and understanding what happened is a key component to moving forward.
- Where am I going?
- Placement is a huge disruption to all of the relationships a child has formed, and honesty is paramount in the development of new ones. Children should receive prompt, accurate information about what has happened and what is likely to happen.
- How Will I Get There?
- Answering this question puts children on the path to forming valuable relationships. When a child is able to answer this question, he or she begins to move from the integration phase into the actualization phase.
- When Will I Know I belong?
- Children yearn for safety, and it is important for a child to feel as though his or her family cares about and desires to protect him or her. This is an ongoing process that does not necessarily end with placement.
- Engage the child
- Help the child understand that you have his or her best interests at heart.
- Listen to the child’s words
- Give the child a say in the process. After all, it has the power to dramatically improve the child’s life.
- Speak the truth
- Building trust is a key component in the 3-5-7 model. Be as truthful as possible throughout the process.
- Validate the child’s life story
- Recognizing feelings is different than condoning behaviors. Help the child come to terms with the feelings he or she has about life.
- Create a safe space
- Give the child a consistent, sturdy center to lean on throughout the process.
- Go back in time
- Help the child understand that no situation is so badly broken that it cannot be repaired if it is for the best.
- Recognize pain as part of the process
- The process will be difficult on everyone involved. Reinforce that the pain the child is feeling is natural and won’t last forever.
The 3-5-7 Model is available in Pennsylvania as the Child Preparation unit of service. County children and youth agencies may request this unit of service for children in their custody by making a referral to the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network’s prime contractor. It provides a framework to engage children and youth in the process of permanency, safety and well-being. It helps them deal with identity confusions and grieve the lost opportunities for normal childhood development. It also helps children adjust to the loss of the families, friends and communities they became detached from in placement activities. This model assists in the attachment process to build relationships so children can find a sense of belonging in permanent familial relationships.
It is an approach to working with children and youth at the point they enter child welfare services and for those who live in the child care system waiting permanency options.
The Model is a practice approach to work with those who have experienced profound losses in their lives. It assists those individuals in the building of relationships through the attachment process. For those children and youth receiving services through children and youth agencies, this practice work may be provided at any point in the provision of services.