We were required to create a Safety Plan before Asher is allowed back in our home. The document is reviewed by Asher’s lead staff, probation officer, social worker, prosecuting attorney, and judge. The idea is that it creates a bridge between the rules of JCF and the rules of our home so that Asher can successfully transition from one to the other.
Here is ours:
Safety Plan for a Successful Reintegration of Asher Reynolds
Asher will reintegrate into his family’s home upon his release. He will reside with his parents (Joseph and Teeli Reynolds) and his six siblings (Savannah, Ginny, Georgia, Olivia, Nathan, Hope). Asher is expected to adhere to and adopt the family’s moral code of conduct and respect our spiritual convictions. While living in our house, he will participate in our family activities and function as an invested member of our home.
Asher will actively engage in our regular family activities which include: Sunday church; regular family meals; and attendance in support of siblings’ extracurricular events like: cello recitals; theatre productions; and sporting events. Just as we expect him to be invested in his siblings’ passions, we will be invested in his, and Asher can expect our participation and support in his own pursuit of hobbies or extracurricular activities.
Asher will have a room of his own in the upstairs hall across from his parents’ bedroom. His room will be outfitted with a door alarm for use during the night. It will also have an alarm on the window to deter Asher from utilizing it as an exit. His room will be arranged to provide an inviting and welcoming atmosphere that communicates our desire for him to be home. While we will honor Asher’s privacy and desire for quiet, it must be noted that Asher’s door will not be allowed to be closed unless he is changing or it is after bedtime.
Asher will not be allowed downstairs for any reason and at any time. The downstairs family room area will be a safe zone for our other children as they work through the final steps of healing with Asher. There is a bathroom and multiple bedrooms downstairs, which will also provide safe zone areas for our other children. Just as they need their privacy and space, Asher may expect the same in reference to his room. Our other children will not be allowed inside his room without parental supervision and never without an invitation from Asher.
We will utilize cameras, connected to our home’s WiFi, which will allow us to monitor our home in the rare occasion that we are away and unable to bring Asher with us. Even in these circumstances, we will not leave Asher in charge of his younger siblings. We will organize our schedule in a way that ensures one or both of his older sisters are home whenever we need to be gone. In the rare event that our schedules are unable to accommodate this, then we will arrange for Asher to go to one of our trusted friends’ houses during our absence.
The upstairs living room, kitchen, and dining room will serve as common spaces available to all members of our family.
The sitting area in our bedroom will continue to be a haven where any child may come, day or night. Asher is no exception to this rule.
We recognize that inadvertent infractions of these rules may occur for both Asher and his siblings. When this is the case, gentle reminders will be issued to draw the attention back to the boundary and its purpose. However, if there is any blatant disrespect for these boundaries on Asher’s behalf, an immediate call to his probation officer will be made. We will not tolerate his willful disregard of our safety standards designed to ensure his siblings remain comfortable in their own home. Also, if his siblings willfully disregard Asher’s space, they will receive immediate consequences or lose any upcoming special activities.
Our home has always, and will continue to, operate on a clear set of expectations and defined consequences. We expect Asher to understand and adhere to these rules while submitting to the consequences for any infractions.
- Profanity is strictly forbidden in our home. This includes taking the Lord’s name in vain. Any instance of the use: d—, s—, f—, or other inappropriate profanity or slang, will result in immediate consequences.
- Chores are non-negotiable and will be performed per the description set out in the chore chart. This includes attitude and timeliness of completion. Asher may expect his chores to include: dishes, laundry, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, yard work, keeping his room clean, and helping keep the common areas of our home tidy. There will be no differentiation between Asher and his siblings, and they will continue with their own chore responsibilities. We do not award an allowance for regular, weekly chores that keep our home running smoothly. Everyone lives here. Everyone works here.
- Mutual respect and submission to other’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being is an absolute in our home. When someone says, “No,” regardless of whether it is perceived as a joke or not, the only appropriate response is to immediately stop. Now that we understand the pain that was perpetrated inside our house, we are particularly sensitive on this point. Respect for authorities and peers alike is essential for our home to function properly. All our children understand that they may not speak towards any other member of our home – or any human – with disrespect, mockery, or to goad others into outbursts of inappropriate behavior. This does not mean that disagreements will never occur or that opinions may not be shared in contradiction with others. It does mean that conflict must be handled with an eye towards reasonableness.
- Our home is not JCF. Our other children did not serve time for deviant, criminal behavior. As such, we are not beholden to replicate the positive-peer-culture that marked so much of Asher’s rehabilitative process. Our home is run on an authority structure that begins with God and ends with the parental unit. For this reason, it would be inappropriate for Asher to suddenly believe he is responsible for holding his siblings accountable – to our standards or his own. The rule of our home will remain what it was before Asher’s detention: If there is an issue with a sibling, then bring it to Mama or Daddy. If a sibling is behaving inappropriately, then bring it to Mama or Daddy. If there is discord between two or more siblings, then bring it to Mama or Daddy. Until Asher earns the trust of all members in our home, he is not the appropriate voice of counsel.
The above rules are well worn in our home and will be held up as the standard of behavior for all children. Understanding that mishaps will occur and recognizing that no one is perfect, we commit to making our home as welcoming as possible for all members – including Asher. We also commit to carrying out consequences in a manner befitting the age and maturity of each child. For this reason, the following consequences are specific to Asher and may or may not be the ones we choose to use for his older or younger siblings. Also, it must be stated that until Asher earns back our full trust through thoughtful, consistent choices there may be times when the benefit of the doubt is withheld from him.
- Any action that contains an element of sexual misconduct, abuse, or deviance will result in immediate reporting to the authorities and removal from our home.
- Attitudes of disrespect towards us or Asher’s siblings will be given a single warning before privileges are revoked or consequences are incurred. An apology in all situations is expected. Typical consequences are additional chores and lost privileges are typically foregoing participation in activities with friends or room time during special family activities.
- Because the chore chart is clearly labeled and posted, there is no warning for failure to adhere to it. Missing chores, doing them haphazardly, or with a poor attitude will result in an immediate reassignment of chores that gives an even greater share to the offending party.
- If Asher is unwilling to submit to our authority, refuses to respect our right to assign him reasonable consequences, or lashes out in verbal or physical tantrums we will immediately call his probation officer. We have no desire to hold his acceptance in our home over his head like a carrot. However, it is essential that Asher understand that his reintegration into our home is not the ending point of this healing process but merely one more step in a long line of necessary ones.
Asher will be enrolled at Calvary High School, a private Christian school in our hometown. He will diligently apply himself to his studies. We believe he is fully capable of achieving a C+ average in mainstream classes without significant inconvenience to himself. Unless his teachers specify otherwise, he will be required to hold this minimum for participation in extracurricular activities regardless of whether they are run through the school and therefore directly subject to his GPA.
We will fully support and encourage Asher to involve himself in healthy peer relationships and will facilitate, whenever possible, a positive social structure that includes regular activities and events. This may include sports, youth group, hobby groups, or the like. We want to support Asher’s development of a proper understanding of social engagement. His siblings are excited to cheer him on in this venture.
There is still a need to address and care for Asher as a victim, as well as continue his rehabilitation as a sexual offender. We are committed to finding the best care for him on both counts. Having worked with his three younger siblings, we understand the importance of an integrated plan that includes a combination of some, or all, of the following: TF-CBT (trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy); neurofeedback; EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing); PTSD specific acknowledgement of triggers; psychotherapy; prescriptive drugs. We are wholly invested in working with Asher’s treatment team to ensure he is given the opportunities he needs to heal and grow. Although his sentence includes Sex Offender Outpatient Treatment that usually consists of 6 months of sessions, we have no intention of putting a time limit on the mental care Asher may need to feel whole.
Our family will also participate in family counseling. We believe the best strategy for a successful reintegration is to address the concerns we have as parents with Asher and a trained professional before he is released into our home. We also believe his siblings need the same opportunity and while victim mediation will begin that process it is not enough; nor will a few sessions prior to his release be enough. We need to work with a professional, whom we can all trust and who is willing to support our family’s goal of wholeness while respecting our uniqueness, for some time after Asher is home. Asher’s desire to fully participate in this necessary aspect of healing is required for his return to our home.
Statement of Intent:
We desire to be a restored family that can showcase the mighty work of a miraculous God, the diligent efforts of invested people, and the wonder of forgiveness. To that end, we are committed to the hard work of loving our son – even in the inevitable ups and downs that will mark his return to us. It is essential that Asher feels like he is coming home and not simply moving to another set of rules and regulations. So, while it is important and necessary that we clearly establish the consequences for any “what if” situations that may arise, we are hopeful that we will move through this season with grace and soon find ourselves, whole and healed, on the other side of this dark season. We believe that anything our enemy meant for evil, the great and magnificent Jesus Christ sovereignly designed for good. He can redeem these years of pain and we are trusting Him for just that.
Joseph and Teeli Reynolds
January 29, 2018