Upon arrival into Care, and then again every six months, our licensing agency is required to go over ALL the specifics of caring for the children. The document starts out with "Reason for Placement" and goes from there. I have to answer questions about many different aspects including:
• Child strengths
• Any diagnosis: psychological needs, intellectual functioning
• Characteristics of the biological family: strengths/needs/goals
• Primary treatment issues: behavioral/emotional
• Education: strengths/needs/goals
• Developmental strengths/needs/goals
• Recreational/social schedules
• Cultural issues
• Overall supervision requirements
...and any more things
Because of some conversations I've read on FB lately, I've been intrigued with the whole idea of "culture" lately. This ISP meeting really brought it to light too.
The ISP paperwork says this:
Describe activities provided in the home and community to teach the child about his/her own culture, affirm personal worth, protect the child's dignity, and promote the development of a healthy racial and ethnic identityRainbow has never really made me answer "how" we do this in our family. She's always just taken things she knows to be true and filled the space in. For example, Dude is able to interact with peers of his own culture at Head Start and at church. He is able to eat foods that are familiar to him at home and at restaurants. She also said that he will have the opportunity to celebrate various holidays with the family.
Yesterday though, Rainbow specifically asked me how we handle "culture" in our family. I had to laugh. I told her that the children are living IN their culture -- I'm the fish out of water here! She pressed me a bit to say that I serve Mexican food. I added in that we attend a multi-cultural church. But really, what else is there to say?!
I got curious so after Rainbow left I downloaded the Cultural Diversity training that we are required to take every year for our license. Forgive this long post, but I think it has the potential to open up an interesting conversation. I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks about this.
The training slides started with the following:
Race does not equal culture.
Ethnicity does not equal culture.
Gender does not equal culture.
The next few slides covered areas where there can be conflict with culture in families (particularly when kids first come in to Care). Issues can arise in these areas:
physical and social environment
But then it went on to say:
Values are the fundamental building blocks of cultureWhat does this mean to Dude and Dolly?
Values are general principles or ideas, usually related to worth and conduct, that a culture holds to be important. The values of any given culture form the foundation for life within the culture.
They do not remember life with their bio family. At what point in time can it be said that they have adopted a new culture and that's OK?
Dude and Dolly came from a lifestyle of extreme poverty and neglect. Work was not important. Education was not valued. Family was not central. To me, this was their culture.
Is it important to continue to connect them to that?!
The State took the cherubs away from the Spanish language culture. They lied to me and told me the cherubs spoke English. It is not my fault they no longer speak Spanish. In the long run though, these cherubs now have an advantage over many others where we live. Most children learn English when they start preschool or kindergarten. It is because of this that most elementary schools struggle where we live! That language issue is huge! Dude and Dolly can communicate well in English and I believe it is ultimately to their advantage.
By now the cherubs have come to accept our food. (Prior to Care they had never eaten fruits or vegetables.) They are used to our physical and social environment. They know our house rules. The smells of our house are familiar to them. We dictate their personal care and they are OK with it.
So exactly what am I supposed to do to connect these children to their culture?!
Believe it or not, Rainbow asked me if I let them watch Dora the Explorer. I nearly choked on my water!! Watching a cartoon connects someone to their culture?!
Ultimately the annual training that we take says that we are supposed to:
• Recognize and respect the perceptions of children and youth in Care; and their families
• Support self-esteem and self-image
• Help children develop a positive racial identity
What do you do to support the culture of the children you care for?
What does culture mean to you?
I'm very curious and I'd love an honest discussion about this!!!
Because to me, making tacos for dinner isn't exactly connecting my kids to anything!