Spreading the Learning of Trauma-Informed Care to Foster Parents and Host Agency Staff through the Japanese Mockingbird Family™ Community

Spreading the Learning of Trauma-Informed Care to Foster Parents and Host Agency Staff through the Japanese Mockingbird Family™ Community

April 15, 2024 - Pictured: Mockingbird Family Constellation Members in Fukuoka

Hello everyone, I am Miho Awazu, Executive Director of the International Foster Care Alliance [IFCA], a non-profit organization with headquarter offices in both Japan and the United States.

IFCA's Mockingbird Family™ initiative began in 2018. Several foster parents and researchers traveled to Seattle from various parts of Japan for intensive training at the Mockingbird Society office. They brought what they learned from that training back to their home country and launched Mockingbird Family™ pilot projects in their respective regions.

By 2019, two constellations had officially launched in Sapporo (northern island) and three in Fukuoka (southern island) as a result of the pilot projects. During the two COVID-19 crisis years, foster parents at the regional hub and satellite homes and their host agencies continued to work together in creative ways to maintain their support network.

We held monthly national online meetings of the Mockingbird Family™,  and used these gatherings as consultation time with Dr. Miyako Shirakawa, a prominent child psychiatrist and trauma specialist in Japan, and IFCA's clinical director. Foster parents brought questions about children with challenging behavioral issues and each month we had lively discussions on a variety of topics. It was a Trauma Informed Care (TIC) based learning,  understanding children's behaviors through the lens of trauma.

Last month (March 2024), the Mockingbird Family Group of Fukuoka City led a new form of training in the city, drawing on the TIC learning to date. The first day of the two-day introductory training for professionals in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) was designed to include local foster parents and staff from child guidance centers and child protection facilities. This was the first time that foster parents and child welfare non-clinical staff shared their learning of TF-CBT with trainees with clinical background. 

This year, a new constellation of Mockingbird Family™ was launched in Tochigi Prefecture (main island), and the first monthly meeting was held this month. Tochigi Prefecture is already looking into offering TF-CBT training that foster parents can also participate in.

Reflect | Rebuild | Reimagine - A message from our executive director

Dear Friends of Mockingbird,

What a whirlwind of activity since I arrived at The Mockingbird Society a few months ago! The staff, youth and young adults we support, the Mockingbird foster families, our founder Jim Theofelis, the funders and donors, our wide breadth of community partner organizations, and our board have all been stalwart guides to me, ensuring that I prioritize my learning in these early months to lead with decisions rooted in the heart of Mockingbird’s rich history.  For all of you, I am incredibly grateful.

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