2.4 Pre-Service Training and STARS Competencies
This section will review the foster/adoptive parent pre-service training available. It also includes an explanation of the competencies upon which the training is based. Competencies refer to the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully parent the children in the care and custody of the Division. A resource licensing worker also referred to as a family development specialist, must successfully complete Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills, STARS, and STARS Making the Commitment to Adoption – Spaulding, Train the Trainer training to provide STARS and Spaulding training and to complete Resource Provider and Adoptive Family Assessments.
The pre-service competency categories for parents Include:
- Protecting and Nurturing Children: Children placed with foster families and adoptive families need to live in a safe place that keeps them from harm, is friendly, and where the parents show they care. Some children who have not been kept safe or cared for may not accept or understand the efforts to do so at first. Others are hungry for attention. The pre-service training will help the caretaker to understand a child’s feelings and reactions to separation and help the caretaker to deal with those feelings and reactions.
- Meeting Developmental Needs and Addressing Developmental Delays: For most of us, growing up is a natural, predictable development process. For example, infants who have the opportunity and encouragement to walk at the right stage of their development will learn how to walk. Many of the children who need foster families or adoptive families did not have the opportunity or encouragement to grow by learning how to do things at the “right” time in their development. They may be “behind” in some ways or “ahead” in others, compared with children of the same age who had their developmental needs met. The pre-service training helps prospective foster parents and adoptive parents understand the reasons for these developmental delays and differences and how to cope with them.
- Supporting Relationships Between Children and their Families: Birth family relationships include brothers, sisters, and other relatives, as well as parents. Children do not arrive at the door of a foster family or adoptive family without bringing some kind of personal history with them. Even infants who have never been held by their parents have a prenatal, birth, or hospital history. The memories, experiences and attachments children bring with them will vary, but they will come with the child. The pre-service training prepares the caretaker to understand the importance of a child’s history and how to deal with it.
- Connecting Children to Safe, Nurturing Relationships Intended to Last a Lifetime: The Division believes—and the law requires—that children are entitled to permanent, lifetime family relationships. Children’s Division (CD) works with the parents to correct problems so children can return home whenever possible. If the parents cannot or do not respond, the Division looks for another permanent family for the children. The different roles of foster parents and adoptive parents in providing a permanent family for a child will be explained in the training sessions.
- Working as a Member of a Professional Team: Whatever a child’s circumstances, needs or past experiences, the Division, foster parents, and adoptive parents work together for the child’s benefit. There are many troubled families and children who need help. The work that needs to be done is too much for any of us to do alone.
One way these competencies are demonstrated is in the resource parent’s ability to apply the required Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standards.
Adoptive parents are expected to meet additional competencies:
- Knowing how adoptive families are unique;
- Understanding the importance of separation, loss, and grief in the adoption process;
- Understanding attachment and its importance in the adoption process;
- Anticipating and managing challenges as an adoptive family; and
- Making a lifelong commitment to a child.
2.4.2 Pre-Service Training, STARS Curriculum
STARS pre-service training is a prerequisite to becoming a licensed foster/adoptive home. Foster/adopt parents must successfully complete 27 hours of training as well as the ten hours of assessment interwoven with the training. After demonstrating that they meet the required competencies, they then become professional foster/adoptive parents.
Foster care providers wanting to adopt must take an additional 12 hours of STARS, Making the Commitment to Adoption (Spaulding) Pre-service training. Relative care providers are encouraged to complete the Spaulding training but are not required to complete this training.
All STARS and Spaulding sessions are co-taught by a professional staff member of the agency/contracted provider and an experienced, currently licensed, professional foster/adoptive parent.
The following is an overview of the nine STARS sessions, each of which is three hours in length. More than one session can occur a day, however, the nine sessions are to be taught over a minimum of three (3) dates:
Session One: Connecting with STARS
Session One connects participants with the Foster STARS/Adopt STARS program. Participants learn how the pre-service training provides the formative principles of assessment, selection, licensing, and approval. The competencies needed for successful fostering and adopting are reviewed in relation to the STARS pre-service sessions and the process of becoming a foster or adoptive family.
Participants discover how to define family foster care and adoption. They learn how children and families get referred for services, and they explore challenges and rewards of fostering and adopting. Emphasis is on the participant’s understanding the requirement to provide normalcy for foster youth as defined in statue and regulation. Participants should be able to identify ways to make decisions for the foster youth to participate in age- and developmentally- appropriate activities by co-parenting with the foster youth’s parent(s) or guardian(s). Session One features a video that dramatically portrays fostering and adopting experiences.
Session Two: Teamwork Toward Permanency
This session introduces the importance of family relationships and the role families play in supporting the child’s identity, cultural identity, and self-esteem. Participants identify major tasks in planning for permanence, including ways to preserve connections and continuity through times of change. Participants are introduced to co-parenting with the foster youth’s parent(s) or guardian(s) for making decisions about activities the youth may participate in. Teamwork is presented as the best way to promote permanence for children and families. Trainees discover the unique role of foster parents and adoptive parents as members of a professional team. Emphasis is made regarding the resource parent’s responsibility to mentor and encourage the foster youth to actively participate in his/her case plan.
Session Three: Meeting Developmental Needs: Attachment
This session reviews the “basics” about child growth and development. It considers how important bonding and attachment are for growth and development. Session Three emphasizes ways that the team, and especially the foster or adoptive parent, may build positive attachments in order to meet developmental needs. Important information is provided regarding brain development and how allowing the foster youth to participate in age- and developmentally- appropriate activities impacts brain development.
Session Four: Meeting Developmental Needs: Loss
Separation and loss critically affect the child’s growth and development, particularly in family foster care and adoption. Participants learn the types of losses children encounter before entering foster care. They learn how placement can deepen the child’s sense of loss. Trainees review the stages of loss and consider how they influence the child’s feelings and behaviors. Loss is presented as a universal issue. Foster families and adoptive families consider how they have dealt with losses in their lives. They discuss how they might approach losses that come with fostering and adopting, and how they can be “loss managers” for children. Emphasis is made on providing normalcy for the foster youth to minimize loss of their normal activities and life experiences. Co-parenting strategies are explored to ensure decisions are made to allow for participation in age- and developmentally- appropriate activities.
Session Five: Strengthening Family Relationships
This session revisits how families promote identity, cultural identity, and self-esteem in children. Participants review the child welfare concept that children in placement should rejoin their families whenever possible. They discuss how the team can support reunification.
The role of visiting in strengthening family relationships is explored. Concrete information explains how to plan for visits, how to prepare children for them, and how to handle reactions afterwards. The importance of families to children in the adoption process is discussed in terms of lifelong needs for identity and self-esteem.
In this there is emphasis of how co-parenting helps not only for making good decisions for the foster youth’s activities, but also shows the value and importance of the foster youth’s family from which they have been removed.
Session Six: Meeting Developmental Needs: Discipline
This session focuses on the challenges of instilling discipline in children. The content and activities focus on protecting and nurturing children and meeting their developmental needs. Discipline is defined, the goals of effective discipline are identified, and the difference between discipline and punishment is illustrated.
Trainees review the agency’s policy on discipline and discuss the negative effects of physical punishment. Participants learn about the knowledge, skills, and personal qualities needed to instill discipline. They explore the meaning of a child’s behavior and the factors that influence behavior. The session outlines the methods foster and adoptive parents, as team members, can use to meet the goals of effective discipline.
Session Seven: Continuing Family Relationships
This session looks at different ways the team can help to connect children to safe and nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime. Permanency planning goals are outlined, starting with efforts to support families and reunite children with families and kin. Adoption, guardianship, and independent living activities are presented as other ways to promote lifelong connections when children cannot grow up with their families.
Implementation of Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard is explored and explained throughout this session.
Session Eight: Planning for Change
How placement impacts the foster or adoptive family is the focus of this session. The first hours, days, and weeks of a child’s placement in the home are viewed practically. Trainees learn what to expect, what to ask the caseworker, and how to talk to the child. The importance of providing normalcy for the foster youth and co-parenting with the foster youth’s parent(s) or guardian(s) is stressed.
Longer-term placement impact is also discussed, including how placement changes the foster or adoptive family. The notion that fostering and adopting carry risks is highlighted through a discussion of abuse allegations. Use of the team for support and focus is emphasized.
Session Nine: Making an Informed Decision
This session offers foster and adoptive parents a chance to learn first hand from experienced members of the foster care team. Panelists including foster parents, adoptive parents, caseworkers, and family members present their perspectives and answer participants’ questions. Participants will reflect on their growth and development regarding the pre-service competencies. They begin to make a final decision regarding their commitment to fostering or adopting.
2.4.3 STARS, Making the Commitment to Adoption Curriculum
STARS, Making the Commitment to Adoption, was developed by the Spaulding for Children National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption. The name Spaulding has been used interchangeably with the adoption portion of STARS. The following is an overview of the four pre-service sessions of STARS, Making the Commitment to Adoption: (Although the foster / adopt STARS curriculum allows only one session per week, the STARS, Adopt curriculum allows for more flexibility. Two sessions may be conducted in one week.)
Session One: Exploring Expectations
Trainers share the history and intent of the Making the Commitment to Adopt Curriculum as well as its objectives and assumptions about the training. The meaning of adoption, the process, and the important players in the process are discussed. The video “Before the Adoption Process Begins” is shown to acknowledge participants’ hopes and fears about the process and to lead to a discussion of empowering strategies. Participants explore their fantasies and expectations about the child or children that they wish to adopt.
Session Two: Meeting the Needs of Waiting Children
Participants will explore the reasons they feel they could adopt particular children and view the videotape, “The Children Who Wait”, to focus on the realities of adopting children who have been abused, neglected, abandoned, and have lived in the child welfare system. Particular attention is given to the issues of separation, loss, grief, attachment, and issues related to parenting the child who has been sexually abused.
Session Three: Exploring Adoption Issues
Using the Family Network Diagram, participants will explore family supports that may assist them in adopting children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The videotape, “Common Issues in Adoption,” addresses issues for which participants will develop strategies in their teams. Participants will be given information on predictable crisis periods in adoption and use their Family Network Diagrams and Genograms to explore their strengths, needs, and challenges in planning for adoption.
Session Four: Making the Commitment
This final session of the training focuses on helping participants look at resources, the commitment necessary for adoption, and tools to help parents get information to make a decision and commitment to adoption of a particular child. The participants will review their ecomaps, view the videotape, “Characteristics of Successful Adoptive Families,” and review a number of tools for getting information and to guide them in making their decisions about adopting. Participants will also be recognized for completing the training.
2.4.4 STARS For The Caregiver Who Knows The Child.
STARS for the Caregiver Who Knows the Child is an adaptation of the Foster STARS / Adopt STARS resource training curriculum published by the Child Welfare League of America. The guide is used as pre-service training for caretakers who are already have a meaningful relationship with the child to be placed. The relationship can be a connection by family or by association (a teacher, neighbor, etc.).
The guide is meant to be used as an independent study guide, but may be used in group training sessions, or in a combination of both methods. The worker should be flexible in presenting the training method without detracting from the integrity of the program. The provider will receive 9 hours of pre-service training credit for successfully completing the training and homework for STARS for the Caregiver Who Knows the Child.
At least 9 hours of in-home assessment is required to occur during the pre-service training process.
2.4.5 Pre-Service Training Process:
- Enroll applicant in nearby STARS (Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills) Pre-Service Training sessions.
Content must be:
- Co-taught by a currently licensed, Teaching Professional Foster Parent (For certification of Teaching Foster Parent, see Attachment A.) and an agency/contracted provider professional staff member who has completed the STARS Train the Trainer course;
- A minimum of 27 hours in class training;
2. Enroll applicant in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Applicant must be certified in CPR prior to licensure; Three (3) training credit hours using the cod V252. The resource provider must also be re-certified in CPR prior to each re-licensure every 2 years.
3. First Aid; Three (3)0tTraining credit hours using the code V898. The resource provider must successfully complete the First Aid training prior to each re-licensure every 2 years.
4. Direct applicants to complete the required pre-service Psychotropic Medication Management training. The link to the training is located on the I Am a Foster Parent Internet page. The training code is V013 for 2 hours of training credit.
5. Reimbursement of child care expenses ($2/child/hr), and mileage, if necessary, at current state rates, may be made through the SAM II system after the applicant has been licensed. SAM II is the method of reimbursement to foster parents for expenses incurred during any training (Pre-Service, In-Service, Behavioral Foster Care, Medical Foster Care, etc.). The cost ($2/child/hr) is to be applied to all children in the foster home, including the biological children of the foster parent(s).Special expenses (i.e., registration fees) may be approved by the Regional Office and paid through SAM
6. Evaluate training experience with foster/relative applicant and training facilitators.
7. Verify training hours completed.
8. Record required information on in FACES on the Resource Parent Training screen.
All licensed homes must successfully complete the following training prior to being licensed:
- Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR); Three (3) training credit hours using the code V252. The resource provider must successfully complete the CPR training certification prior to each re-licensure every 2 years.
- First Aid; Three (3) training credit hours using the code V898. The resource provider must successfully complete the First Aid training prior to each re-licensure every 2 years.
- Psychotropic Medication Management. Two (2) training hours credit using code V013 in FACES.
- Informed Consent; Two (2) training credit hours using code V150. Memo CD18-22.
- Health Information Portability and Accountability (HIPAA); One (1) hour of training credit hours for reading and signing the CD-194 using code V980. The form is read and signed at each re-licensure. However, the training credit is only earned for initial time.
- Secondhand Smoke Exposure Protection (V113) (2) Two hours of training credit hours.
Chapter Memoranda History: (prior to 01-31-07)