THE NEW KID AT SCHOOL

By Toni Heineman | September 30, 2015

It’s hard being the new kid at school. You don’t know what to wear or how to find your way to the cafeteria or the restroom. You don’t know which teachers have a reputation for kindness and which for meanness. You don’t know who will be your friend or who will make fun of you.…

BACK TO SCHOOL

By Toni Heineman | September 1, 2015

Facebook is filling up with photos of kids heading off to the first day of a new school year. Some proudly sport a new uniform indicating that they have moved from lower to upper school or from middle school to high school. Others are beaming in outfits we assume have been chosen for the occasion.…

WHEN THE FAMILIAR IS RADICALLY UNFAMILIAR

By Toni Heineman | August 13, 2015

Life cannot be lived without loss. We know that, but many of us don’t have to think about the implications of that truism on a daily basis until circumstances, either within or beyond our control, compel us to attend to it. If, for example, we are fired or choose new employment—whether with anxiety or excitement—we…

POUND FOOLISH AND NOT PENNY WISE

By Toni Heineman | July 22, 2015

Illinois Governor Bruce  Rauner is counting on foster youth to help solve the state’s financial crisis. By eliminating the three years of transitional care that currently supports foster youth until the age of 21 the state expects to save approximately $5 million annually. While the state’s child welfare agency is expected to absorb a 12.5%…

HIGH STAKES: EFFECTS OF TRAUMA FOR ADOLESCENTS & YOUNG ADULTS

By Toni Heineman | May 19, 2015

Over the course of National Foster Care Month, I’ve written about the impact of trauma on healthy development in infants, toddlers, and school-age children, noting that the effects can occur in any or all domains of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development.  I’ve also made the point that any caring adult in a child’s life…

INTO A WORLD OF RELATIONSHIPS: TRAUMA AMONG SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN

By Toni Heineman | May 17, 2015

May is Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness month, and in the past couple weeks, I’ve written about the impact of trauma on infants and on young children, and how trauma that occurs in the context of relationships can only be healed within healthy relationships. At A Home Within, we start conversations with the community…

FIRST STEPS, GIANT LEAPS: TRAUMA AMONG TODDLERS AND YOUNG CHILDREN

By Toni Heineman | May 2, 2015

Last week, to kick off Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness month, I wrote about the impact of trauma on infants like Janelle, and how trauma that occurs in the context of relationships can only be healed through relationships. For each of the remaining weeks this month, I’ll offer perspectives on trauma and healing across…

STARTING AT THE BEGINNING: TRAUMA DURING INFANCY

By Toni Heineman | April 29, 2015

May 2015 is both Foster Care Month AND Mental Health Awareness Month. This spring we’ve seen a lot of attention to the mental health needs and well-being of foster youth, whether talking about ways to safely reduce the use of psychotropic medications (as I discussed in a previous post), or about the related need to…

NATIONAL SOCIAL WORK MONTH

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

During the month of March we are invited to honor social workers, many of whom are the lynchpins of the foster care system—caseworkers. These are the people who have the day-to-day responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of children who have come to the attention of the child welfare system. Most children enter foster…

MEASURING A CHILD’S WORTH

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

The news of the relationship between foster care and the sex trade has made its way to the Capitol. In recent testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee former foster child, Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, cogently outlined the multiple ways in which the structure and function of the child welfare system create a smooth pathway from foster care to…