Meet the JCFS Foster Care Team: Linda Jamison, Assistant Director of Intake and Foster Parent Support
Linda joined the JCFS team in 2005, initially as a therapist in the System of Care program. Her role expanded over the years as Intensive Placement Services added programs for adoption preservation and Emergency Foster Care. Linda has also supervised the intake team. Recently, she was promoted to Assistant Director of Intake and Foster Parent Support.
Linda is excited to continue fostering connections with youth in care and their caregivers, something she has been an active part of since coming to the agency. She hopes to bring a new energy to the JCFS Chicago foster care team. “Everything I do, I put in 100% and I always make time for one more thing. People wonder about how I have so much energy,” says Linda.
She also operates a catering business, teaches aerobics, is planning her upcoming wedding, and still makes time to shoe shop. Linda loves to travel, especially to New Orleans, and has a passion for jazz music. She credits her mother with teaching her to stay strong and never give up.
We're All in This Together: Working with Your Case Worker and Clinician
It is important to establish and maintain good communication with your case worker and clinician. They are trained mental health professionals who are critical members of the care team, along with your support system of family, friends and neighbors.
The children and youth in our care have suffered trauma and exhibit challenging behaviors that affect their daily socialization, school performance, interpersonal relationships and problem-solving abilities. As a well-meaning foster parent, it’s easy to feel frustrated about disruptive, challenging behavior. A child may not be ready for the kind of change you want to see. The trauma he or she has experienced may have affected both cognitive skills and emotional stability. Therefore, your child may need more time to learn how to think, feel and behave differently. And it may be just as hard for you to change your behavior, at least in the way you respond to your child’s anger, frustration, impatience and hurt. In our TCI classes, we remind foster parents “Don’t take it personally”; which is easier said, than done.
It’s important to recognize when we need help, which does not mean we have failed as parents or caregivers. Our case workers and clinicians will work closely with you to promote understanding of your foster child’s issues and assist you with the additional skills you may need to manage chronic and/or daily situations and/or crises. Regular home visits and conversations with a case worker can provide important “continuity of care” and support to help you manage the stresses of parenting. Regularly scheduled therapy sessions will give your child’s clinician insight into deeply-seeded issues that may be at the root of your child’s behavioral challenges. It is important to trust have confidence in your team--they have your child’s best interests at heart. The following are qualities to look for in your case worker and clinician:
- Someone who is a good listener. A good listener gives you time enough to tell your story and lets you know that you have been heard. A good listener gives you the space to express your feelings and doesn’t criticize, judge or rush to provide advice.
- Someone who explains things clearly, in language you can understand. Your case worker and clinician should not make you feel confused or overwhelmed. If you are not sure about a situation or strategy that will help your child, ask for clarification.
- Someone who gives you options, rather than directs you. Problems usually have many possible solutions, depending upon the circumstances or limitations. It feels good to know what those possibilities are, so you can make the best choice in your child’s best interests.
- Someone who can develop, present and follow through on the best treatment plan. Clinicians are trained to assess a child’s situation and come up with a plan for treatment; whether it be short or longer-term. The treatment plan estimates the amount of time it will take, describes what the process will be, and indicates what outcomes you can expect. A plan can change depending upon the placement goals and other factors, but your clinician should be able to explain these things to you and your case worker should be able to monitor your child’s treatment plan progress with each home visit.
- Someone who can explain issues of confidentiality and protect your privacy and that of your foster child. The therapeutic process is very sensitive and for you and your foster child to gain the most benefit, commitments to confidentiality and maintaining privacy must be adhered to by all parties involved. Talk to your case worker and clinician about the guidelines and boundaries necessary to ensure the integrity of shared information.
“Face time” is the best method of interpersonal communication during home visits with your case worker or after your child’s session with a clinician. Your JCFS Foster Care Team is available 24/7 to answer questions, provide guidance and support all aspects of your foster parent experience. All questions are important and have value, so don’t hesitate to call. Remember, we’re all in this together, in the best interests of the children and youth in our care.
-- Marc Bermann, JCFS Foster Parent Recruiter/Trainer, 312.673.2755