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Circles of Support

WHAT ARE CIRCLES OF SUPPORT?

Circles of Support, also known as Relationship Circles or Circles of Friends, are the most critical element to the sustainability of a person-centered plan.

  • The Circle of Intimacy are the people who are closest to you, those we rely on every day and those who know us best. They are people we can hardly imagine living without. Examples include parents, grandparents or other family, housemates, caregivers.
  • The Circle of Participation are our friends and family members who know us well, who we can call on when we need them and who can call on us. Examples are friends at school or work, team mates or coaches, people where you worship, support staff, teachers.
  • The Circle of Participation are those who we might see with regularity, who have some interests or associations in common with you. Examples are people at the gym, team mates or coaches, bus drivers, neighbors, people where you worship, customers where you work.
  • The Circle of Exchange includes people who are in your life because they are providing a service you are paying for. We all have people who fit into this category; doctors, therapists, trainers, support providers, hair dressers, attorneys.


Follow this link for a printable Circles of Support template you can use immediately: 

Ecomapping

The Ecomap was developed by Dr. Ann Hartman. It was designed as a visual diagram that shows how someone relates to others. The connections between the individual and their formal/informal connections can be positive or negative but is discussed in a strength-based approach. 

How to Create an Ecomap:

  • Obtain a sheet of blank paper and a pencil to begin the process
  • Draw the person in a large circle
  • Smaller circles are drawn around the client’s circle to represent people, groups, etc. that they have a relationship with.  
  • Draw the type of connections between the client and each connection in smaller circles
  • Make sure to draw a definition of each Ecomap legend
  • Arrowheads should be used at the end of each line to indicate the direction in which resources flow or the level of mutuality of the relationship
  • Make sure to include a date
  • This is just a starting point of a discussion

 What Questions to Ask:

  • “Who is important to your life?”
  • “Who do you spend most time with?”
  • “What groups, activities or memberships do you hold or belong to?”
  • “Who do you talk to in your neighborhood? “
  • “Is anyone missing?”

BELOW IS A SHORT VIDEO REGARDING ECOMAPPING: 

Genogram

WHAT IS A GENOGRAM?

What is a great way to visually link family connections? Genograms. This tool is used to explore someone’s family history in an artistic way. The genogram is similar to a family tree but obtains more information regarding relationships and connection.  This family engagement tool can display three, four or as many generations as you would like along with their relationships to each other. Displayed on the genogram includes various identifying information such as names of relatives/kin, date of birth and date of death. 

Pro tip:  Genograming is an art and gets easier with practice.  Try making a genogram for your own family first.  It may help you think through what questions to ask, what information is interesting and what information may be missing.   

Lifebooks

A lifebook is a collection of a child’s memories, important items and mementos, photos, drawings, journals, and anything else that is important to the child. A lifebook brings together a child’s past, present, and future. It’s purpose is to document a child’s history, celebrate accomplishments, and allow his or her talents to shine.  It is a record of a child’s life in his or her own words.  

Lifebooks can be preserved in a binder, photo album, or scrapbook, but can also be collected digitally, as a box of trinkets or in many other creative ways. The possibilities are endless!

While it’s best to start a lifebook when the child is first placed in foster care, it’s never too late to start.

The lifebook belongs to the child.  The child decides who can look at it. If the child moves, the lifebook goes with them. 

LIFEBOOK LINKS: 

Below are some helpful links that offer more information about lifebooks but also downloadable templates and tools to help get you started!

Life Mapping

WHAT IS LIFE MAPPING?

Life Mapping is a technique used to explore key life milestones. It is a wonderful opportunity to creatively share some of life’s successes, obstacles, talents or passions in sequential way. Artistic skills can shine when engaging with children. It is also a great way to find out what is important to them. Use paper, markers, crayons, pictures or any other medium to explore the lives of children.  

Mobility Mapping

HOW TO MOBILITY MAP:

  • After establishing a rapport with the child, explain that you would like to learn more about him or her to help trace family and relatives through drawing a picture (map). 
  • Draw a small house in the middle of the paper. Explain that this represents the his or her house. Now ask the child to draw all the places around the house that he or she used to go to. 
  • After you have verified that the child understands the exercise, allow him or her time to draw without interruption. Be patient and encouraging. 
  • Once the child finishes, label each place on the map. Ask the child to label any places added to the map.
  • Then ask the child to mark all the places that he or she liked best with a particular color of pencil or sticker.  
  •  Interview the child regarding their most liked places first.

QUESTIONS TO ASK:

  •  “Tell me about this place. Why do you like it?”
  • “Who did you visit there?”
  • “What is your favorite memory of this place?”

BELOW IS A SHORT VIDEO REGARDING MOBILITY MAPPING:

Permanency Pact

A Permanency Pact is a pledge by a supportive adult to provide specific supports to a young person in foster care with a goal of establishing a lifelong, kin-like relationship. Youth transitioning from foster care are often unsure about who they can count on for ongoing support.

Huge thanks to FosterClub for developing this resource.  

Prediction Narrative

This tool was developed by the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s Extreme Recruitment program, adopted from the works of Kay Donley Zeigler. 

This tool is used to predict a youth’s potential needs and behaviors to better equip a caregiver to meet those needs.  

Well-Being Indicator Tool for Youth

The WIT-Y is a guided self-assessment tool for youth ages 15-21 that encourages youth to explore their own sense of well-being across eight domains by asking them to rate each domain on a five-point continuum, ranging from “In Crisis” to “Doing Great.” Examples of varying levels of well-being are presented to facilitate this process. At the end of the tool, the youth will be given a graphic representation (called the Well-being Snapshot) of their well-being levels in each domain. The tool is intended to promote discussion between youth and their worker but could be used in a number of other ways. 

Anu Family Services contracted with the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota to develop the Well-being Indicator Tool for Youth (WIT-Y). 

BELOW IS A LINK WHERE YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE WIT-Y USER GUIDE AND TEMPLATES, AS WELL AS A DOWNLOADABLE BLUEPRINT:

Youth Connections Scale

The Youth Connections Scale (YCS) was developed in order to fill a need in child welfare: To evaluate and measure the increased efforts of agencies to improve the relational permanence of youth in foster care.  The YCS was developed by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota in partnership with Anu Family Services.   

BELOW IS A LINK WITH MORE INFORMATION AND DOWNLOADABLE PDFS FOR THE YCS: