Every year Indiana’s Department of Child Services hosts a conference for adoptive and foster parents. This conference is known as the RAPT Conference which stands for Resource and Adoptive Parent Training. It is rich in education and information for families who are involved in foster care, domestic adoption, as well as international adoption. I was able to attend the most recent conference on Friday, August 16, 2019. This was my first time attending and it will not be my last. The conference spans two days and has three keynote speakers and five workshop sessions. You have the option of attending however many sessions you wish, so you can work it around your schedule.
One seminar I attended was Caring for Youth with Attachment-Based Disorders: Origins, Challenges and Pathways to Healthy Relationships. The presenter, Lindsay Brock, MSW, LCSW, JD was a wealth of knowledge and has great experience in working with children with attachment-based disorders. She is a practitioner and assistant director of Continuum Mental Health and Wellness. She provided in-depth information on the different styles of attachment, how it begins in early child development, and practical ways to help children heal and work through attachment disorders. To understand the levels of attachment, please see below. In first understanding what style attachment children are presenting, caregivers are then able to address the underlying need.
Styles of Attachment
- Secure: based in safety, where we want children to be
- Anxious-Preoccupied: based in preoccupation with preventing perceived abandonment
- Anxious-avoidant: based in avoidance of intimacy/soothing, or comfort to protect from further pain
- Disorganized: based in fear of the caregiver
The last seminar I attended was Creating a Healing Home presented by David Reed, MSW, LCSW, CSAYC. David is the Deputy Director of Child Welfare Services Division for Indiana’s Department of Child Services. He provided information that help parents understand behaviors associated with child mental health, trauma, and PTSD as well as the importance of understanding how the environment helps with service plans in treating children. This includes parent-self-awareness, role-modeling, supportive family relationships, parental monitoring, and involvement in positive activities. He also had three main points that were reiterated which were structure, routine, and time, as I am sure many adoptive parents have heard before. The reason why these three points are so important for adopted children is because they are coming from a background that did not offer stability, feeling safe, or predictability in caregivers and day to day structure.
The RAPT conference was a great resource for me to continue my education in working with children or anyone looking to gain knowledge about how to best care for children who come from hard places and trauma. I highly recommend and encourage anyone in Indiana, especially adoptive parents, to attend the annual RAPT conference or for out of state families to contact their state’s child welfare department to inquire about resources or trainings they may offer. It is a great learning opportunity!