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A new family resource for children and young people in foster care from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds will be launched by Settlement Services International (SSI) in Bankstown, Sydney, today.
My Life and Me, a life story book with a cultural focus, was developed by SSI to address the loss of identity and belonging experienced by CALD children in care.

Kathy Karatasas, Director of SSI’s Multicultural Child and Family Program said, “When children and young people from CALD backgrounds are in foster care they can lose access to important cultural, religious and linguistic influences which shape the development of identity and belonging; a loss of connection to culture can have immediate and ongoing detrimental effects on the child or young person.”

Maintaining a connection to culture could have positive effects on young people’s identity development, personal growth and wellbeing, she said.

“At SSI, we believe children and young people who are supported to learn about and maintain a connection to their culture – their family’s ethnicity, religions/s and language/s – will have better opportunities to stay connected with their other family (often also referred to as biological / birth) and community. In time, this can contribute to positively shaping their self-identity and self-esteem.”

Therapeutic life story work for children and their families allows for exploration of the past, understanding of the present, and hope for the future.

In his foreword to My Life and Me, Richard Rose, Director of Child Trauma Intervention Services UK and Honorary Associate at the Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney, says within life story work there is a need to share lives and share stories, to acknowledge the present and to feel connected to self, family, culture and community.

“We achieve this through the completion of life story work books,” he says.

“My Life and Me provides the template for discussion, acknowledgement and affirmation; with these in place it affords celebration, connection and the chance to accept who we are.”

In an effort to help providers respond to children’s cultural needs, SSI is calling for greater collaboration to help educate and build upon an aspect of care that will benefit the whole foster care sector.

SSI CEO, Violet Roumeliotis, said, “SSI is proud to offer a culturally responsive approach to children and families and we want to help other providers create tailored packages to respond to children’s cultural needs.

“The My Life and Me suite of resources will improve the capacity of our own workforce, and that of other providers, to confidently deliver culturally responsive practices in our work with children and families.”

In addition to the life story workbook, which draws upon material from the Department of Communities and Justice, SSI has developed its own unique resources for practitioners delivering life story work. These are:

  • My Life and Me companion guide
  • All About My Child (for birth parents)
  • Having Difficult Conversations
  • A guide to foster care for children from 6 – 12 years of age
  • A guide to foster care for children and young people from 13 – 18 years of age

The My Life and Me resources will be launched with the support of the Department of Communities and Justice.

“The Department of Communities and Justice is proud to see providers like SSI build upon the sector’s practice, and proactively contribute to shaping better outcomes for the children and young people of New South Wales,” said Daniel Barakate, Department of Communities and Justice Director.

 

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