During National Families Week, we reflect on the importance of the family as a unit in the life of the child, and recognise the value of Life Story Work in keeping a child in care connected to their family.
Ghassan Noujaim, SSI’s Senior Operation Manager – QIP, Multicultural Child and Family Program, says children develop and thrive in the context of relationships, community, faith and culture.
“It is best practice that all children and young people in care are connected to their family, to know the reasons they come into care and to help with the sense of belonging where they feel proud to fit in, which is going to be the first step in their healing journey,” he says.
For teens, this might seem more challenging as young people can often have some pretty strong opinions — including about family. Teens might say family isn’t important, but often change their minds when they become adults.
“It is important to link a young person with at least one family member who they can call when needed and build connection and feel safe,” advises Mr Noujaim.
An essential strength of human evolution has been our ability to establish and maintain our capacity to belong. Richard Rose’s extensive Life Story Work has explored the notion of our “biologically powerful need to belong”, be that to “clan, community or culture”. Our ability to draw upon our connection with people of our past, will help shape our hopes and dreams for a safe and connected future.
Life Story Work intends to ensure that children and young people have an accurate record of their family background and history.
“SSI developed its life story resource, My Life and Me, to improve cultural responsive work with children and young people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds,” explains Mr Noujaim.
“A key part of this background and history is information about the child or young person’s cultural and religious heritage. This includes information about their birth parents’ culture, ethnicity, religion, language, and life in their country of origin. It should also include information about the child’s relationship to their cultural and religious heritage.”
“Life Story Work is collaborative and centred around the child’s needs. Different people will be able to provide different things at different times.”
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