Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cluster Facilitator Retreat

Utah takes good care of its foster parents. Each year they have something called a Facilitator Retreat, (and it's all paid for) for those foster parents who are Cluster Facilitators.

Let me explain who these Cluster Facilitators are: First of all a 'Cluster' is a geographical grouping of foster parents (for instance those who live in Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs are in the Crossroads Cluster, those who live in Provo and Orem are in the Central cluster); sometimes it's a specialized group of foster parents (like those who are kinship caregivers, or adoptive families, or Level 3 caregivers). Secondly, a 'facilitator' is a volunteer licensed foster parent who leads this group; they set up trainings, they keep in touch with other families, the regional trainer and retention specialist through emails and websites, and they offer support to newer licensed foster parents.

Because of that spirit of volunteerism, once a year in April, the Utah Foster Care Foundation provides a 1 and 1/2 day retreat/training for those facilitators and their spouses. The hours spent in training count as hours towards re-licensing requirements.

Today I sat in the audience while two state program directors (Tonya Albornoz and Marty Shannon) spoke about recent Legislative updates and the new assessment tool which DCFS is instigating (called Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths assessment (CANS) for better placement and treatment decisions). Both ladies were open to input and were articulate in the direction the Division was headed. The UFCF also brought in a currently licensed set of foster parents, and one of the state trainers to speak on their areas of expertise. We learned together, we laughed together, and it was all covered by the generosity of the UFCF.

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