Michelle Butler, SVP Intern
I am currently an intern in SPCC’s Supervised Visitation Program. During the past seven months, I have had the opportunity to work with many families and be witness to the numerous benefits of supervised visitation for both the children and parents. It has been an inspiration to watch these families deepen their relationships through meaningful forms of attachment and bonding. To be able to be a part of this program has even further fueled my passion to become a social worker. As part of my academic social work program, I am responsible for creating a macro project that would create sustainable change with the program or agency. I spoke with my supervisor, Lisa D’Orsi, and she mentioned the possibility ofcreating care packages for cases in which parental rights have been terminated. I was immediately drawn to this idea and I felt that it would be a helpful and meaningful service for clients. In situations where it has been determined to terminate parental rights (TPR), both the parents and children may have an understandably difficult time with the transition of saying goodbye. We are aware that no matter how much love and desire a parent has to be a safe and nurturing caregiver, unfortunately sometimes it’s not enough. And in these instances, the courts decide that a parent’s rights need to be terminated to allow a child to move on to find a permanent home.
Our intention in creating these care packages is to assist families during this difficult time of saying goodbye. We know that this ending may be the safest option for the children involved, but we also want to honor the emotional challenge for both parents and children. Feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, fear and hope are understandable and expected. Our hope is that the items in these care packages will provide positive memories and keepsakes from the last visits held at the Visitation Center between the parent and child. We also hope that these items will provide an opportunity to say “goodbye” through writing, stories and art. After careful thought and research, the team at Supervised Visitation has created the following list of items for our care packages:
- A teddy bear for the child to hold when they miss mom or dad (or guardian).
- A small photo album for the parent and one for the child, to hold pictures of each other in. We will take photos at the visitation center and print them for each family member. http://www.amazon.com/Carters-Grandmas-Brag-Book-Loved/dp/B005GQ442S/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1396467868&sr=8-6&keywords=brag+book
- A list of different “handprint” activities for both to do together and take home after the visit.
- The “My Book about Me” book by Dr Seuss, for the child and parent to complete together. This can be a bonding activity that also allows the child to express themselves and tell their parent about their likes. http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-About-Dr-Seuss/dp/0394800931/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396467839&sr=8-1&keywords=my+book+about+me
- Crayons and/or markers for the “My Book About Me” book.
- The book “Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights” by Julie Nelson. This book helps to explain the transition of saying goodbye to parents to the children in this way. http://www.amazon.com/Families-Change-Experiencing-Termination-Important-ebook/dp/B006FDW6YY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396469575&sr=8-1&keywords=families+change
- A letter for a future birthday/special event that the parent could be encouraged to write before the visit. This gives the parent an opportunity to express their feelings and hopes for the future to their child.
- A list of resources for the parent to assist them with the transition. The list will include various community resources that the parent may find helpful, such as counseling/support groups, health resources, and employment/education resources.
My goal is to make 10-15 care packages before I end my internship this year to allow for sustainable change. If anyone reading this feels inspired or moved and would like to donate some of the items above, our families would cherish them. Your donation would provide us the opportunity to give these families special gifts as they are going through this difficult transition of saying goodbye.
You can feel free to contact my supervisor, Lisa D’Orsi at 753-2710, or mail items directly to her at:
Lisa D’Orsi, Program Coordinator
SPCC, Supervised Visitation Program
451 E. Henrietta Road
Rochester, NY 14620