Minnesota counties and organizations can work with us to offer services including the completion of Social Medical Histories, Lifebooks and specialty workshops.
We would love to introduce you to our easy to work with and specially trained Story Specialists, and our specialized, research-based, person-centered model.
Research shows the importance of life history work, and while not therapy, this work is healing and therapeutic as it helps youth understand their history.
In fact, Darla L Henry, The 3–5–7 Model: Preparing children for Permanency, states that one of the main keys to clear sense of identity and sense of security is “knowledge and awareness about personal history, heritage and genealogy,” which a lifebook can help provide.
Power of Story has taken the step to become a MN licensed child-placing agency, and has developed a specialized model that goes beyond the basics, and includes two Therapeutic Life Story Work approach interviews with each young person 6 years and older, a full file review, contact with birth, foster and adoptive families, document redaction as required by MN law and regular updates.
Social and Medical History Completion
A Social Medical History (SMH) includes non-identifiable information, placement locations and dates, addresses of schools, diagnoses, doctors, therapists, information about the youth themselves, their birth family, and reasons for placement.
It is required for all Minnesota foster youth who are in care over six months.
Work with us to:
- Comply with MN statute 260C.212 Subd. 15., that requires SMH’s begin no later than the child’s permanency progress review hearing or six months after the child’s placement in foster care.
- Receive electronic, updateable and strength-based, Social Medical Histories, using the MN DHS approved SMH format – DHS-6754A-ENG PDF.
- Provide full disclosure to pre-adoptive parents, helpful information for birth parents upon reunification, provide a summary document for the court, that is also shared with the youth after age 14.
Lifebooks are photo and narrative-based books geared toward children’s developmental age, with the aim of helping them understand their story in an age-appropriate way, a Lifebook has impact from birth – adulthood.
In MN, A Lifebook is not required, but is HIGHLY recommended for every youth in out of home placement, as evidenced by the inclusion of Lifebooks as an activity that supports permanent connections as part of the STAY (Successful Transition to Adulthood for Youth) program.
Work with us to:
- Receive one physical 3 ring binder based book, with an age appropriate, coherent narrative and photos, for the child to have and an electronic version to remain in the county file.
- Provide a child with an overarching narrative of his/her life history prior to and while in foster care.
- Provide youth childhood and family photos.
- Provide positive and nuanced information about the birth family.
- Provide a timeline for past placements and school experiences.
Counties + Organization FAQ’s
Is training available?
Yes, you can bring the Power of Story to your parents, child protection, GALs, lawyers, permanency and adoption staff. We continually find that when they fully understand the power of what they know, they become sensational partners in this work.
How do we send a referral?
After a worker has spoken with their supervisor, they can complete the online referral. Once it is submitted, the referring worker will get an email confirmation and can schedule a referral meeting to meet with their Story Specialist.
What are the qualifications of those who will complete Lifebooks and Social Medical Histories?
All our Story Specialists have completed a background check, a minimum of a two-year degree, prior experience in the world of adoption, foster care, trauma therapy and/or narrative therapy and are committed to continued growth and excellence. They also have reviewed current research in the areas of life history and related fields and have received specialized training in completing life history work with young people.
Is Power of Story able to do this work across Minnesota?
Yes, we are licensed by the MN DHS as a Child Caring-Placing Agency License # 1112248, are a MN Nonprofit, EIN 87-3175299, have filed MN Certificate of Incorporation. Our 501c (3) is pending, so we are currently under fiscal sponsorship with Connections to Independence, but are fully prepared to get to work.
What if I only want to refer a few children or young people?
That is totally fine! We would welcome the chance to work with them.
What happens at a referral meeting?
During this meeting, the referring worker will get an introduction to your Story Specialist and a summary of our model and processes. They will also share contact information for birth family members, current and past placements, documents, and information needed to complete Lifebook and/or Social Medical History. They will also sign any releases of information needed.
How will Power of Story involve the worker?
After the Lifebook or Social Medical History is completed, it will be shared with the referring worker electronically before meeting with the youth a second time, for any edits, additions, or changes. At that time, the Story Specialist will also discuss how to get it to the young person, based on the youth’s desires and the specific situation/concerns/etc.
Can we decide what to share or not share with the youth?
Yes, we will respect the wishes of the referring worker, however, as huge believers in the healing power of information, we will advocate for a full Tough Stuff Plan to be put in place to share all information if it is felt that ALL shouldn’t be shared at this time.
How will Power of Story involve the youth?
We meet twice with each youth over 6 years of age. Hopefully in person, but virtual meetings are an option also.
During the first meeting, the Story Specialist will show them a sample Lifebook and/or Social Medical History, answer questions about the process, and share that they will meet with them once more after the book/document is done. The Story Specialist will then ask them what they are curious about, have questions about, things they don’t want to know more about right now, and what their current understanding of their life history is.
During the second meeting, the Story Specialist will share much of what was found, but most like there will be some questions that can’t be answered, and some things that need to be talked about with someone else (their worker, a therapist, etc.).
What are your key messages to youth?
- The past influences the future, but if we know all our history, the good and the bad, we can heal.
- ALL of a person’s history is important and worth exploring.
- It is OK for young people to love and be loved by more than one family.
- It is normal to have mixed feelings and questions about the past and future.
- No one’s story is ALL trauma.
- There is always hope for a happy ending (the story is not over yet).
Does my county need a separate contract before we can send referrals?
No, you would not. We can work with youth across the state of Minnesota, without more contracts or MOUs, because we have signed a host/lead county contract and Rule 4 licensure. Our work together, services expectations, and rates would be set by the host/lead county contract. However, your county or organization may need to do an internal process for the purchase of services.
Can I see the host/lead county contract and 2022-2023 rates?
Yes, a rate sheet and copy of the host/lead county contract are available upon request. Rate are a flat rate, per referred service.
Can I see examples of your Lifebooks and Social Medical Histories?
Yes, you can view the following videos or contact us to see one in person or ask more questions.