About the Program / Classes / FAQ

About the Program

What is the Coos/Curry CPS Project?

The Coos/Curry CPS Project is the first step to implement the Collaborative Problem Solving model into the statewide DHS foster care system. In 2015 Coos and Curry Counties were selected by DHS to receive intensive training, consultation, and coaching in Collaborative Problem Solving using federal grant money. Implementation in 2015-2016 has included training DHS personnel, community partners, educators, and a handful of foster parents. Implementation in 2016-2017 includes offering free Collaborative Problem Solving training and support to all DHS foster parents within Coos and Curry Counties.

What is Collaborative Problem Solving?

Collaborative Problem Solving has been proven to reduce challenging behaviors by helping people build social emotional skills to reduce their challenging behaviors. The model has been used effectively with children, teens, transition age youth, and adults across a variety of different settings including family settings, schools, mentoring organizations, foster care agencies, inpatient psychiatry units, residential treatment, and juvenile detention facilities. This model addresses the trauma that many foster youth have experienced.  It provides a common philosophy and language and a structured, relational process for understanding and helping challenging kids.

Where did Collaborative Problem Solving come from?

Collaborative Problem Solving is the product of Think: Kids, which is a program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.  It was originally established as The Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) Institute in 2002. In 2008, the CPS Institute was dissolved and replaced with Think: Kids, with Dr. Stuart Ablon as its Director. Think: Kids continues to develop the Collaborative Problem Solving approach to help families in their clinic and to teach clinicians, educators and facilities around the world.

How big is Collaborative Problem Solving in Oregon?

Oregon is a huge part of the CPS movement! Oregon was involved with Collaborative Problem Solving very early in its development and produced groundbreaking research on its effectiveness in inpatient and residential settings. Many schools, programs, and families in Oregon have embraced the model over the past ten years. Currently there are over 25 professionally certified Collaborative Problem Solving trainers in Oregon.  Many social service agencies, schools, and institutions in Oregon use and promote the model. Oregon has produced pioneering work using Collaborative Problem Solving within early childhood, adult mental health, and foster care populations. OHSU is partnered with Think: Kids as the west coast hub of Collaborative Problem Solving.

How does Collaborative Problem Solving work?

Collaborative Problem Solving addresses problem behaviors by assessing what is causing them, planning how best to approach that cause, and having “Plan B” conversations to come up with solutions. We look closely at the roots of challenging behavior to identify triggers, situations, and expectations that appear to lead up to the challenging behavior. We do some planning, and then we lead a structured conversation about the situation that includes clarifying the concerns of both people and brainstorming solutions together. This process promotes the development and practice of problem solving thinking skills necessary to navigate the situations in the child’s everyday life that tend to cause behavior issues. Sign up for our classes to learn more!

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About Collaborative Problem Solving Classes for Foster Parents

What Collaborative Problem Solving classes are being offered?

There are four types of Collaborative Problem Solving classes being offered:

  • Full day Collaborative Problem Solving Overview for Foster Parents (1 long session)
  • 4-week Collaborative Problem Solving Overview for Foster Parents (4 shorter sessions)
  • Intensive 8-week Collaborative Problem Solving Series for Foster Parents (8 short sessions)
  • Drop-in CPS Training and Consultation for Foster Parents (ongoing drop-in sessions)

When and where are these Collaborative Problem Solving classes being held?

Classes are being held from Spring 2016 to Spring 2017. They will be offered on a variety of days and times throughout three areas of Coos and Curry counties:

Area 1:  Lakeside, North Bend, Coos Bay
Area 2:  Coquille, Myrtle Point, Bandon, Port Orford
Area 3:  Gold Beach, Brookings

Who is eligible to enroll in these Collaborative Problem Solving classes?

These classes are ONLY open to DHS foster parents living in Coos and Curry counties.

Who is eligible to enroll in the Collaborative Problem Solving Overview for Parents?

All foster parents living in Coos and Curry counties can enroll in these introductory classes.

Who is eligible to enroll in the Intensive 8-Week Collaborative Problem Solving Series for Foster Parents?

Only foster parents who have completed an entire overview training are eligible for the 8-week classes.

Who is eligible to attend the drop-in training and consultation events?

Foster parents who have completed an overview training are eligible to attend the drop-in events.

How do I enroll in a class?

If you are a DHS foster parent, you can first browse or search upcoming trainings to find the series that’s right for you. To enroll, please contact your DHS certifier to start the enrollment process. We will then get back to you to confirm your registration.

Can I take just one class in a series?

No, you must take all sessions of a class in order to get credit. For example, if you are signed up for the 4-Week Collaborative Problem Solving Overview for Foster Parents, you need to attend all four sessions in order to complete and move on to further training. The only exception is the Full Day Collaborative Problem Solving Overview for Foster Parents which takes place in one session.

Who teaches these classes?

Classes are taught by certified professionals who are experts in Collaborative Problem Solving and have experience working with foster kids and foster parents. Information about our trainers can be found on the “About the Trainers” tab.

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FAQ about Collaborative Problem Solving

So we shouldn’t have expectations of kids?

We definitely still have expectations! Collaborative Problem Solving helps you clarify what your expectations are, why you have them, and how to be realistic, step by step, as skills get built. It also helps expectations become easier for the child to meet. Come to our classes to learn more about expectations and Collaborative Problem Solving!

So are we not allowed to set limits anymore?

Hard to imagine not setting limits with any child! But it’s all in how you set the limits. One way to set limits is by imposing your will. As you may already know, we call that Plan A, and there are some major downsides to Plan A. In challenging kids, Plan A fuels the challenging behavior. In “ordinary” kids, Plan A is yet another lesson on the “might makes right” principle. Another way to set limits is to work collaboratively with a child to ensure that your concerns (those concerns that make you feel that some limits need to be set) and the child’s concerns (those concerns that explain why he’s having trouble meeting your expectations) are both satisfactorily addressed. This, as you probably already know, is called Plan B, and we think it’s a more effective, durable way to set limits with kids.

So kids get to do whatever they want now?

No! Collaborative Problem Solving is not an excuse for challenging behavior, and it does not mean that everything is done the way the child wants it done! Collaborative Problem Solving is actually about figuring out what is causing challenging behavior, viewing that cause as a shared problem, and finding a solution together solutions that work for both you and the child!

My child seems able to hold it together sometimes – like when we’re in public. Doesn’t that mean that he can control it?

All of us are capable of looking good for periods of time under certain circumstances, and most of us look better in public than when we do in the comfort of our own home with the people we know and trust the most. Your child is probably working very hard to keep it under control in some circumstances but doesn’t have the skills to do it all the time. Of course, knowing the types of situations your child has the hardest time with can also give you valuable information about the problems you need to solve and skills you need to teach.

 “It’s a Plan A world.  Aren’t we setting up our kids to fail?”

The Plan A world can be overwhelming and unrealistic for some foster kids (and some adults!). They need a different approach because Plan A, rewards, and consequences can’t help them meet some expectations. Collaborative Problem Solving helps kids build the problem solving skills needed to make it in the real world. It teaches them to consider others’ points of view, recognize impact on others, think flexibly, manage emotions, and many more thinking skills necessary to navigate that Plan A world!

“Collaborative Problem Solving doesn’t work on my kid.”

Let’s look closer at your how you’re using it so we can figure out why. Something is probably going wrong in the process. In Collaborative Problem Solving there are specific ways to examine the problems that are causing the challenging behavior, and if this isn’t done, it is hard to make a plan or conduct an effective Plan B conversation. Come to our drop-in sessions and we can help you!

“I’m worried about safety.”

That is understandable! Clearly, if someone is about to get hurt, imposing your will to maintain safety is the thing to do. But if the unsafe behavior is ever likely to recur, then you’ve got some predictable problems to solve and skills to teach that likely will require more than mere imposition of adult will. Start with trying to view the unsafe behavior through that Collaborative Problem Solving lens to get clues about what is causing it. Also, try to use less Plan A and more Plan C when comfortable doing so. Choose small, less scary issues to start experimenting with Plan B. Once you get used to Collaborative Problem Solving and Plan B, you’ll see that it actually can reduce safety issues because the child will develop the problem solving skills to manage whatever is leading up to them. Come to our classes and we can help you practice!

“My foster kid doesn’t trust me.  Plan B feels impossible with him/her.”

Trust is a very real issue with foster children. This can make the Collaborative Problem Solving process very slow and hard to engage in. Start small! Look through that Collaborative Problem Solving lens! The first step is to build rapport. Work on trust before trying Plan B. And keep your eyes on what seems to be hard for the child. That level of empathy helps send a message that you care and actually see what is difficult for them. We are happy to help you figure out the best approach with your foster child!

“My foster kid can’t sit still long enough for a Plan B.”

Plan B does not have to be a formal sit down process. You can do it while walking, eating, driving in the car, playing basketball, drawing pictures, cooking, or whatever else. You can also do it a little bit at a time. It does not have to be done all at once. Sometimes when kids have a lot of energy or are easily distracted, it helps to stay active while you talk. It can also help to give them a “fidget” toy or use something to focus their attention.

“I don’t have time for Plan B.”

Plan B does take time, it’s true. But it can actually address the roots of the behaviors, which saves you time in the long run! Plan B does not simply put out fires over and over again, it actually stops fires from starting!  And remember, there is more to Collaborative Problem Solving than just the Plan B part! The whole lens is just as important!

“Collaborative Problem Solving is hard and confusing.”

It is hard because in many ways it requires us to learn a whole new way to look at (and address) challenging behaviors. It requires us to think differently about them, which is not easy! It takes a lot of practice to get truly comfortable using Collaborative Problem Solving. It will feel like slogging through mud for a while. But eventually, after trying it many times, parents and children get used to it.  Don’t give up! We are here to help!

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How do I know this program is right for me?

Here’s what parents have to say
about CPS:

“It’s a great tool to teach parents how to parent.” “It builds the relationship instead of tearing it.”
“This is a gentler approach to parenting that is trauma-informed; it takes into account kid’s trauma.” “It’s teaching us to take that step back, that deep breath so we’re not adding to the chaos. And teaching kids how to live without chaos.”
“It taught me to be a more positive parent.” “It’s pulling together strategies from other approaches.”
“It teaches children how to be parented – that they can grow, be listened to [by a parent]. If we teach them how to be parented, they can learn how to parent, and we can break the cycle.” “The approach gives you a chance to take a breath. It reminds you to take a breath, step back and take perspective when faced with challenging behaviors.”
“It teaches us to be proactive rather than reactive.” “CPS supports relationships, and therefore avoids rebellion.”
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