FOCUS on Foster Families - For Providers

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6. How to Build a Stronger Family


SESSION PARTICIPANTS: Foster-Adoptive Parents/Caregivers and Foster-Adoptive Child/Adolescent (Family unit)
SESSION TIME: 90 minutes

  1. To demonstrate steps for holding a family meeting in order to enhance communication between family members
  2. To provide tools to solve problems as a family unit
  3. To provide family-fun activities to utilize in family meetings
Materials for the Participant’s Folder:

  • General welcome and facilitator introductions
  • Introduction of today’s topic on family meetings, problem solving, and family fun activities
  • If conducting in a group format, ask each member of the group to introduce themselves with information such as:
    • Adoptive parent/caregiver name
    • Child/Adolescent name and age
    • Family hobbies (What is one activity you like to do for fun together?)
    • One personal goal the family has for today’s session (Note: The facilitator should give participants a few minutes to think about the goal before asking them to share)
  • If you’re not conducting in a group format, ask family members to introduce themselves and each identify a family strength or something their family does for fun and a goal for the session.

Say: Today we are meeting as a family to discuss how to hold a family meeting! We want to help you feel stronger as a family unit and one way to do that is by having a weekly family meeting. Family meetings are important for a number of reasons. Setting time aside for one another make your family feel like a priority. They are also a great opportunity for open communication among family members and a great time to discuss events on the family calendar, plan family activities, problem solve about any conflicts in the home, and clarify expectations for your child.

  • AskWhy else is a family meeting important? 
  • Participants discuss topics such as how family communication can be enhanced, how family rules can be set, and how family meetings can help get everyone on the same page
  • SayThis worksheet outlines the steps to holding a family meeting. We are going to go over them together.
  • SayThe first step is for parents/caregivers to decide when to begin holding these family meetings. We believe that the sooner they are scheduled, the better. We also want to work together as a family to get everyone’s commitment to the process.
  • AskLet’s take a minute, get into our family units, and talk about our thoughts on having weekly family meetings. Parents/caregivers, take a minute to think about a good time to start these meetings, and check in with everyone to see when a good time in the week for them would be. Remember, these meetings are a time for the whole family to meet when nothing else going on to talk about goals and plans and strengthen what is already so great about the family.  
  • AskWould anyone like to share what their thoughts are about family meetings with the group? Parents/caregivers, do you like the idea? Children/teens, what are your thoughts? How are you going to make this happen weekly?
  • SayFamilies should create ground rules at the beginning of the meeting. What are some rules we can think of together that could apply to all families? Please keep in mind that any rules discussed here do not have to be applied to your family, but let’s use this time to brainstorm together.
    • Examples: Listen to others, one person talks at a time, respect each other, kind words, no criticism, no fighting, no cell phones.
  • SayNext, it is important to set an agenda for you meeting. First, choose a topic to discuss and go around the group and have everyone responds to the topic. You can use a “sharing object” or “talking stick” to facilitate the discussion. Only the person holding the object can speak. Then, before you end the meeting, decide when you will meet again. Maybe it is a consistent weekly time, or perhaps the time fluctuates week to week. Make sure the time works for all family members! Finally, end the meeting by having everyone say one thing they learned or gained from the meeting. Then close with a fun game, a family activity, or making fun plans for the entire family!
  • AskLet’s take some time to set your family meeting agenda. Please work together to pick some topics to discuss during your next few family meetings.
  • Guide the family on making the family meeting strengths-based, such as including a time for family members to give compliments or messages of appreciation to one another.
  • AskWhat are some topics you and your family have decided on that you are comfortable sharing?
  • SayNow that we know how to meet as a family, we want to also learn how to solve problems as a family. We are going to discuss a great problem-solving tool that for your family meetings.
  • SayAs a foster/adoptive family, you are part of a new family. Like any other family, problems may arise that cause conflict in the home. We emphasize a team approach in solving problems as a way of not only bonding with your family, but also making sure that every voice is heard.
  • SayPlease identify a current problem in your home. Examples could include child having difficulty cleaning their room or doing their homework in the evenings or the family not spending enough time together:
    • We use the acronym S.N.A.P. to help us problem solve in four steps:
      • State the problem
      • Name the goal (realistic and specific in one sentence)
      • All possible solutions (make a list of all the possible actions you could take; when done as a family, encourage options proposed by both the caregiver(s) and child. The goal here is to be creative, so even wacky solutions should be included in the list).
      • Pick the best one and try it out (evaluate the pros and cons of each option, reach a decision about which action you want to try, try it and review it).
  • Example of S.N.A.P.:
    • State the problem: Leaving toys out in the backyard
    • Name the goal: By the end of the week, all the toys will be put away in the backyard
    • Actions:
  • Use a magic vacuum to scoop up all the toys
  • Put toys away after you play with them
  • The whole family helps clean up the toys in the backyard on Fridays and gets pizza as a reward
  • One person cleans the backyard every week
  • Buy storage bins and leave them in the backyard to remind the family to clean up the toys
    • Pick the best one and try it out: The whole family helps clean up the toys in the backyard on Fridays and gets pizza as a reward
    • AskParents/caregivers, what are thoughts about this problem solving technique? Children/teens, did you find it helpful? How was it helpful? 

Say: We learned about how to hold family meetings and how to solve family problems during these meetings. Now we want to teach you a family-fun activity you could do to end your family meetings. There are a few options for family-fun activities.     

  • SayThis activity is the Family Collage. For this activity, you need some art supplies – a poster board, glue sticks, scissors, magazines, stickers, family pictures, etc.
  • SayThe only rule in making this collage is that everyone in the family must agree on what is put in it. The theme of the collage can focus on items that represent your family, who you are as a family, what you value as a family, or what makes you a family. The possibilities are endless!
  • SayThe point of this activity is to work on a creative project that allows your family to work together, express yourselves artistically, spend time creating something artistic, and make something that will represent your values, family intentions, and unique family expression. 
  • SayWe are going to do this activity as a family right now. It is called Family Statements and it is a list of statements for you to fill out together. Let’s spend some time filling it out and come back together as a group.
  • If time permits completion of this worksheet during the group, ask: What is something you have learned about your family through these statements? What was fun about filling out these statements? 
  • Remind the family of the key takeaways of this session:
    • Family meetings are important because they make families feel like a priority and they are a great opportunity for open communication among family members.
    • Having a weekly time set aside could also serve as a space to discuss any problems or challenges going on in the home.
    • Problem-solving can be a team-based approach where everyone can contribute to the solution.
    • Family-fun activities are a good way to end the family meeting and bring people closer together in a creative and fun manner.
    • Utilize the How to Hold a Family Meeting, SNAP, and Family Collage or Statement activities to assist you with your next family meeting.
      • Ask each family member to set and share a personal goal to practice during the next week
      • Ask the family to discuss one thing they will take away from today’s session