Darla Henry & Associates
In This Issue
WELCOME to Calgary and Area Child and Family Services Authority, the newest member of the 3-5-7 Model(c) Family! 
The 3-5-7 Model
September 2014 


September has always been a welcomed time of transition for me - with the change from the summer schedule to the school schedule and the changes in nature, I find myself looking forward to the new season to come. But the return to school season isn't always so welcomed for children and youth who may find themselves in an educational setting that isn't foster friendly or adoption friendly.  The pain and loss many children and youth who have been separated from loved ones feel doesn't get left at the door when they enter school.  It accompanies them, challenging their ability to succeed in the school setting.  Wouldn't it be hard to learn a new math concept while unanswered questions about your parents' and/or siblings' well-being loomed?  Our children and youth's feelings of loss are often highlighted when faced with an assignment to complete a family tree or present pictures of themselves as an infant.  Fortunately, the field of education has become more sensitive to these issues and information abounds.  In this newsletter we will share some resources for those who interface with the education system and talk about overcoming some common barriers we face. 

Focusing on Our Skills: Dealing with Common Barriers

There are some common barriers we all face from time to time that can discourage both the child/youth and workers.  These barriers interfere with applying the 3-5-7 Model concepts to our work.


It's not uncommon to come across children, youth, adults or families who seem "unwilling to talk".  We need to resist the urge to jump to labels and assume that the client is "resistant" or "disinterested".   A client may not be ready to share thoughts and feelings with you because you haven't yet built a trusting relationship with them.  It takes time to build a relationship and it takes continuity - it's hard to get to know someone when you see them for less than an hour once a month! 


Our children and youth have many reasons to be cautious about engaging in relationships with workers.  These include having had many changes in caseworkers, having had information that they have shared used out of context, and having had to tell their stories over and over again. 


Here are a few tips to help you forge ahead in supporting the work:

  • Let them know what to expect by telling them how long the session will last 
  •  Explain your goals; that you are meeting with them to help them understand what has happened and to answer their questions
  • Reassure them of the confidentiality
  • Start with a relaxing activity, perhaps drawing your own life map
  • Acknowledge that they may be feeling confused, sad, angry, etc.
  • Use eye contact; however, do not expect them to maintain eye contact
  • Work in short sessions
  • Vary activities/tasks
  • Don't become intimidated by their reluctance
Resource Recommendation 


Childwelfare.gov offers resources a click away for both parents and teachers to help ensure schools are a friendly place for children and youth who are adopted.

"Starting school may be an adopted person's first encounter with people outside their family and friends. Questions from peers or teachers may be uncomfortable for children, and some classroom assignments may be challenging. For example, a child who joined the family when he or she was older may not have baby pictures, and the common family tree assignment may be difficult for an adopted person. Find resources in this section to help adoptive families and teachers better understand school-related adoption issues."


Source: https://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/adopt_parenting/school/ 

Featured Activity 




1. Problem: The standard format does not allow for 

foster, adoptive, birth or step-parent and siblings. 


2. Solution: Rather than avoiding the family tree assignment, parents and educators can use it as a tool to teach children about the many varieties of family structures.  Offer a choice of the following formats (see also the sample worksheets at the end of this article):ts and siblings.

a) The Rooted Family Tree, in which the roots represent the birth family, the child is the trunk, and the foster, adoptive and/or step-family members fill in the branches 


b) The Family Wheel Diagram, in which the child is in the middle and the outer rings of the circle represent he birth, foster, adoptive, or step-family relationship.

c) The Family Houses Diagram
, which uses houses instead of trees to show connections between birth, foster, adoptive, and step-family members 


An Excerpt from Adoption Advocate, September 2010, Back to School: A Guide to Making Schools and School Assignments More Adoption-Friendly, by Christine Mitchell. 


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P.O. Box 4847 Harrisburg, Pa 17111-0847
office@darlahenry.org   |   717-919-6286