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December 25, 2021

[EP.303] Luchini: Quick Tips to Empower Yourself When Dealing with Social Workers the World of Discipline

In this episode host, Genie Dawkins, and Kim Poetivin discuss how to deal with social workers and how the word “non-compliant” affects your child’s ability to make progress in school. Kim provides insight into how to interact with social workers and members of your child’s IEP team to protect your child from being targeted as a problem child

Kim Wheeler Poitevin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in childhood grief and loss. She also treats children experiencing racial disparity and discrimination in private white institutions. Kim is the owner of Amel Counseling and Consulting, a private therapy practice located and Ask Amel, a parent coaching firm in Philadelphia, Pa.



  • What the term “ Compliance “ means in the world of Individual Education Plans

  • Ways to advocate for your child when dealing with Social Workers 

  • How to know when a therapist is not a good fit for your child



" I'm confident that a kid internally kind of knows what they need. - Kim


“You have to humble yourself because kids are learning that you should already know it.” - Kim


“You can't force a child to engage in something that they don't want to do.” - Kim


“Focus doesn't come from a pill. Focus comes from practice.” - Kim


Stay Connected:

Kim Poitevin

Website: ameltherapy.com

Facebook: Ameltherapy

Instagram: @ameltherapy


Are you tired of not getting your child’s school to listen to your suggestions in meetings? I have a solution. Schedule a free 30 minutes session and together we will create a plan that will your child succeed in life while supporting you and the entire family. You have questions and I have answers. Let’s talk!


To hear more about cultural competency check out these episodes “ Fall: The importance of Speech Therapy In Our Kid’s World and “ Our Song: Affective Curriculums That Help Our Kids Make Progress” and to hear more about supporting our kids in white spaces check out “Save the Children: Raising Black In Kids In White Spaces

To check out Kim’s favorite song “Luchini” by Camp Lo click below.


Genie 00:07

Welcome to The Parenting Cipher, where each episode will give you the tools and resources to help your child thrive in school and in life. Please rate and review this podcast. I'd love to hear your feedback. Also, hit that subscribe button so you don't miss any upcoming episode.

Genie 00:34

Hello, everyone. Today, the Cipher is blessed with Ms. Kim from Amel Counseling, who specializes in grief loss and therapy for kids and teens of color and I would love for her to introduce herself to everyone because she is such a treasure.

Kim 00:48

Hey y'all! I'm Kim Wheeler Poitevien. I am a licensed clinical social worker, and I'm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I own practice as Genie said, I am now counseling consulting based in Philadelphia. We are a group practice of three other clinicians with me, and we only see children, teens, and adults. And my specialties are grief, loss, racial trauma, working with kids of color and also transracial adoptees.

Genie 01:15

So let me ask you. This is going to be a good one. So my son has a social worker. She's African-American. However, whenever I interact with her, I always feel like she has a bias. The class is biased, and at first, it kind of threw me because I was like, well, she's black, so maybe I'm tripping, right? So my son mentioned we moved. She sends me an email. Well, your son said you moved. Did you make sure that you changed your address? Why would I not change my address? That doesn't make sense to me. I thought at first I was being sensitive. Next thing you know, she sent me another note asking me. Well, Zavier said that you all went out of town. I'm like, what's going on? Why do you keep asking me these things?

Genie 01:56

And then she sent me something. At the end of the year, she wrote my son up for his proper support, and everything that she wrote up was about her. I explained to Zavier that I took a lot of time to create the plans for us today. And he said, "That's okay." When I try to engage Zavier certain activities, he doesn't seem to be interested and I took all of my time to create these lesson plans and he really doesn't want to be interactive. There was a call with her where she was talking to him, and she said to him was, "Zavier, we talked about it, and we decided that if you participated more, you would get better grades." So my son said, "Well, I get good grades." She says, "Oh, well, if you don't want to get good grade, then I guess." And I'm like, oh, so you try to play the game with him? He said to her, "Well, listen, I get good grades. I see my report card." So then she writes down in the notes, she writes down that he's non-compliant. So for everyone who doesn't know about the non-compliance thing, it's a peace of mind because it is something that's used in the medical world as basically saying that you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing and especially when it's given to a child that you're trying to get a private placement, a placement somewhere else. You're trying to put them in a school.

Genie 03:12

It's almost saying, like, this child hit somebody. That's how they look at non-compliance. And it's been an interesting interaction because she's what? And I'm kind of like, "What's going on?" And as a social worker, I'm trying to figure out, like, first of all, how should I talk to her? Should I just say it? Can I just say this is how I feel or am I trip it, Kim?

Kim 04:11

I'm not going to bore you with the history of social work, but I'm going to say like I said, may feel can be racist. And I think that we also fall into this thing of, oh, if you're black, you can't be racist but you can also be aligned with white supremacy. You can also have internalized white supremacy. You can also have this internalized white bias because you've kind of taken this thing that white is right. So as the saying goes, all skinned folk and can folk, right? And so it's very difficult to find social workers and therapists who look like you. It's very difficult. And even within that, you have to weed them out the same way you weed out everybody else. Not everyone is going to...They're not going to ride for you. And there are people that they could be burnt out. They could be okay. Well, this is what I would do all the time and this is what families are.

Kim 05:00

And it's a lot easier to just pigeonhole people and to go along with it. Not every person who works with kids used to be working with kids. I don't know her. I'm sure she's a very lovely person. I don't know. I supervised therapist, and frustration comes out when kids aren't necessarily doing what it is they want to do but therapy is an art. And working with kids is an art to do that, to understand that the process is not about you as a provider. It's about what that kid needs in that moment and when you're providing social work services through an IEP, those things have to be measurable, and we're looking at we need to create SMART goals, and they need to be measurable and there's an art to writing a SMART goal, but also kind of meeting a kid where they are. I'm very good at it. Some people may not be, and that if a kid doesn't necessarily do the thing that you want them to do, it could be that they declined instead of refuse or not compliant, because compliance like you said, implies that they just are willfully not doing something.

Kim 05:58

But the other thing that we're looking at when we're looking at when people say to someone that's not compliant, that is really a way for a professional to say, but it's not my fault if they're not doing well. This is documentation. This is UIA and so this is one of those things. But I would also look at that and say, I don't really care if you spend a whole bunch of time planning something. If you spend a lot of time planning something that kids didn't want to do it, then you've got a whole bunch of other tricks in your bag that you do.

Kim 06:25

I mean, I got a whole bunch of stuff that I'm like, hey, I may have a plan for something, but it goes somewhere else, but I'm also confident that a kid internally kind of knows what they need and that you, as a therapist, are there to kind of give them support and maybe give a little bit of guidance here and there. But trust the process and trust the therapeutic process in the relationship. It sounds like there is a lack of rapport building, and a kid wanting to please an adult does not mean rapport. Compliant does not mean that they have a strong therapeutic alliance so that they trust this person. I think that for me, I've worked with kids for 20 years, and I feel that it's a gift and a blessing if a child trust me enough to open up to me, I don't take those relationships for granted. I know how difficult it is and how important and special that is. I also know that there's a potential for a lot of damage. If there's a hierarchy and a power differential and that you have to be reverent and you have to be respectful and this is your opportunity to teach kids that adults can be safe and they can be empowering, and they can help you to learn particular skills so that you can grow and you can thrive.

Kim 07:33

What we ultimately need to approach our relationships with children is that they are worthy of dignity and respect and not the fact that you are worthy of dignity and respect. Therefore, a kid needs to be compliant to show you that. You have to humble yourself because kids are learning that you should already know it.

Genie 07:47

Yeah, that part.

Kim 07:48

So I would say and that respect to her, you can say in the very thing. You know what, I noticed when you're writing the goals, that there's a lot of eye and I'm not really sure how you factor into what his goals are. Your goal should be something that should transfer to multiple settings and it also should be that if you were not the one to actually be his provider, someone else should be able to step in. So your personal interactions with him, I don't necessarily think that that's really privy to what the services are.

Genie 08:20

That's good because we just had a meeting here. I was confused because I addressed it. I addressed it. I felt like that was my opportunity and basically, I was saying, you're saying that he's regressing. I said, "But it's a new goal so what exactly is your reference when you're saying regressing, and it's a new goal?" She never spoke up. Someone else spoke up, and they were like, based on the baseline and then when she did speak up, she's like, well, he's had two discipline reports and she pulls one up.

Genie 08:48

And first of all, I'm saying, I'm thinking, well, you said two. I haven't received either one. And then second of all, I found it to be really interesting that I'm questioning you and this is what you're going to pull up. In a meeting, as though you're going to make my son the problem and intimidate me in some way. So I'm not a good parent because I feel like a lot of times it could just be me but a lot of times people can say things to you when you're in these meetings to either intimidate you like you're supposed to back down, or you're supposed to feel less than or you need to be doing more at home but for me, that's not what I took away from it. I took away from it was one, you haven't sent me any reports. Two, I found it interesting that you brought it up because I'm talking to you about what you wrote, and it took a lot for me, Kim, to either bring it up. I spent all summer. So listen, guys, I got this progress report in June, and I spent all summer looking at it, reading it. Am I tripping? Am I seeing what I'm seeing? This is really personal, really doing that all summer long and I called the meeting, not actually to speak to her. I called a meeting to ask about if it was a good fit for my son but she seemed to be in a meeting, and I took it aside from the universe and God that he wanted me to say something.

Kim 10:02

I think that my thing about parents is that when you're about to go into a school meeting, they make you feel like you were on the defense when the reality is that they are. It's on them to provide services and to have kids thrive and so ultimately, they are the ones that they need to figure out what do they need to do to meet this IEP and to meet these federal mandates? A lot of times when we're writing something and saying that the kid is not compliant. Like I said, it's basically saying, I've tried everything possible. This is the treatment plan that we've determined to be the most appropriate, and they're not following through with that. What I would counter with is, okay. Well, it seems like these particular either. Interventions aren't necessarily helpful. He isn't engaging in them. You can't force a child to engage in something that they don't want to do, and that doesn't align with them. How can we get creative and meet him where he is? The other thing could be, "Okay, well, is this goal?" Since he isn't motivated by that or he seems to pass it? Is this goal appropriate? Has he actually mastered that? What is your perception of mastery? Because he functions in this way, in these different settings, and he does this in here. And these all seem to be behaviors that ties to this particular goal so it seems like he may have mastered that. And it's really hard to master emotional control or self-regulation. It's very difficult to put a percentage on that. It's very subjective.

Kim 11:32

So are we looking at it? Is it in a subjective way, or are we looking at an objective way? Because the reality is that he may be different with different people, so then I think that's more personal interpersonal issue and is that really measurable? That's what I would say.

Genie 11:46

Okay, Kim.

Kim 11:50

Ultimately, you look at it this way. A math teacher will say, okay, well, they don't respond well to this approach. Let me change my approach. It's the same thing for a social worker. It's the same thing for a therapist, and if they're not a good fit, then you go somewhere else, right? The hard thing is that when they're at school and they're there. This is what we got.

Genie 12:09

As well as parents understanding that if it's not a good fit, you have a voice to say, it's not working out. They have other people and staff. This is the person that they used to give your child and just like when you take your child to the doctor that you choose, you have the same power to say, I don't think it's a good fit. They're not actually gelling together. Is it possible that he receive services from someone else?

Kim 12:31

And I will also say, I'll speak to the other thing that's kind of unspoken. It's painful when somebody looks like you, but they don't ride for you.

Genie 12:38

And it's confusing

Kim 12:40

Very confusing and sometimes, we kind of put the expectations out there and say, oh, my God. Well, they get me. And no, some people are dead. Some people don't. I get a lot of kids in my practice that the parents are like, Oh, my gosh! We've tried so hard to find a black therapist and I'm like, the reality is you can try me out, and I may not be for you either. That's just one part of the puzzle. You have a great therapist, and they don't look like you at all. And they just get you. It's just one factor but it does sting more. It's really...Because you're like, oh, this person could kind of like, actually get me and it's like.

Genie 13:20

It doesn't. And I learned that before her, before the social worker. I learned that with my son's speech therapist and I had to build a rapport. But I actually had to go out to understand the pieces that she was missing, because when you're dealing with public school and people are being contracted, what I'm learning is that there are limitations to what they actually want to provide. And sometimes you have to make sure you understand what they should be providing and ask for it.

Genie 13:48

And then once you ask for it, they give it and I'm also going to say this. I find in my experiences, if you are not black, if you are white, they have a tendency more to give them everything possible under the sun. But when they deal with black parents and black kids, it's more of a limiting basis because you don't know. You don't know. What you know is someone says they're going to help your child, you don't know exactly what it looks like. You don't know what it is. You don't know what the services. You sitting at the table with people and they're introducing themselves.

 Genie 14:21

They're so nice. They're so nice. That's what you do. You say you're a social worker, then I'm confused with why are you working with my son with his feelings? Because you said you're a social worker. But these are the thoughts that go right in my head. When I first sat down in a meeting. Your speech therapist, okay, I know people can't understand we talk, not you also address reading, you address phonics, like, all those little things, I'm not aware of at that time. Sometimes you're going to have to do and that's why I created The Parenting Cipher. Take a listen so you can see what is the person supposed to be providing so at least you have an idea and, like, what kind of questions to ask. So I agree with you. I've had three of my people. And to be honest, only one gentleman, Darius Thomas, speech therapist.

Genie 15:10

It was my ride or die, because when I wanted private placement, and the lady said that she felt like he was not a good fit. Before I could even raise my voice, he raised his and asked her, "Well, what would be a good fit?" And I was like. "Okay, Darius, alright."

Kim 15:29

I want to say this in the right way. People who go into this in treating kids, I don't think anybody necessarily has it out for kids or doesn't want, right? It's just that there's a very oh, my goodness. I'll put it like this. In my practice, I talk very clearly about that. I help kids dealing with racial trauma. I could sit here and see there's some other black child therapists around that would not feel comfortable with that and talking directly about that but I also look at it as my experience when working in schools, as a school social worker, working in patient child psychiatry, working in residential and working community based that you can not say that this is racism, right?

Kim 16:09

But I also have had the privilege of going to school with plenty of white people and knowing how to talk the talk, walk the walk, know exactly what they do and being unassuming enough that they feel very comfortable saying some of the most racist garbage ever and knowing how they think and not everybody thinks that way. But understanding that there are systems that are in place that are very biased and there are people that we still are taught in school who believe in eugenics and who are very racist and very antisemitic.

Kim 16:41

They're just a host of just gross things that are the foundation for a lot of the treatment and we have to kind of overcome that and we have to really have these uncomfortable conversations and checking our biases just because somebody is brown or black does not mean that they haven't bought into some of this stuff. There are some people who literally just don't feel like doing it or they just don't feel like dealing with a kid that doesn't want to talk to them.

Genie 17:07

There's an indoctrination period. There's an indoctrination period depending on where you're coming from or your mindset before you started but one of the main things I came up with in the last couple of years talking to my kids was I got socialized at some point, and I didn't know it and I was like, wait, my answers to their questions, especially when it came to microaggressions, racisms, the responses that I was providing to them were so socialized, and they would bring it up because they were like, Well, mom, it doesn't make sense because this is what's happening.

Genie 17:39

And I'm like, "Oh!" And I had to really start checking myself because one of the things I love about neurodivergent children is that they are very literal and because they're so literal and we tend to not live in that white, black space, we tend to live in that gray. People can infer it may sound like, but they're very literal. So when I would say things, they would say, what are you talking about? This is what happened. She's going to say, Trump. My son was like, he is a kidnapper. And I was like, "Well, no, this is what happened." As parent, I'm giving him the whole spiel, and he looked at me. He said, "Mom, they took the kids from their parents. That's kidnapping." And I sat there like, "Okay, I'm socialized." And I said, "Okay, you're right."

Kim 18:33

There's a couple of studies. I can't remember the one off the top of my head, but it was basically that kids are fine up until, like, maybe three or five or so. They play perfectly fine braces and all that. But around four or five, white kids start to separate themselves. They go up and they do their own little thing. Kids of color don't have an issue with playing with different ones, right?

 Kim 18:55

We start to notice. And that's an interesting thing. So they see differences. So the whole thing about treating things is being colored. One is completely unrealistic and not talking about race and not talking about differences. It's completely unrealistic because obviously, children notice differences, and they also have internalized that being white is better because the white people are off here and they're not allowed there. So instead of us kind of explaining it away because we kind of said, okay, but this is just the way that things are. We're not going to rock the boat. We're not going to make things worse because I don't want my kids to be a target where you just have to get them to kind of tow the line. If you tow the line, you're not going to be a problem, you're going to be safe.

Kim 19:35

We know this is not true. We know that we have no control over that. But that's what we need to do as parents to make sure that our kids feel okay. The other thing is that we're admitted into a lot of other places and we're creating our own spaces that this generation is now being like, I don't want to just be happy to be here. I want to live. I don't want to be here by your grace. I'm going to make my own table or I'm like, get all that seat. You don't need to be there, right? I'm going to be here, make the table bigger, right? So it starts with us having some kind of uncomfortable conversation. I think I have parents who are like. "Oh, I just tell my kids that they're white people are just a lighter shade of Brown. They're kind of like peach." I'm like, "No, can we just be like, people are different?" And if a kid mentions that somebody's different, I am like, "Yeah, isn't that great?" Like, if you point out that somebody is from a different country or they have, like, a different, they may have a disability or whatever they talking about, that does not make a kid ableist talking about that does not make a kid racist. It talks about differences because that's the reality and that's the human experience. When we lean towards white supremacy is when we're saying that anybody who does have a disability or anybody who doesn't look like the norm is not okay and therefore, we're not going to talk about things that aren't okay. We're only going to focus on the things that are right.

 Kim 20:51

That's the issue. And this is when we have kids who are saying, "Oh, my God. I don't have a problem with people being different but I don't want to be different." Why do they know that as opposed to kids are different? And it starts with adults being okay with differences. And it starts with adults not labeling a particular behavior or a particular experience because of a difference instead of saying, oh, you are successful in spite of, yeah, you're successful, right?

Genie 21:16


Kim 21:16

This is the way that you're successful. I think that's how...I told a kid today. I said, listen, all this stuff like I just took the medication for ADHD, and I just took it. It's not helpful. And I said, Well, the session today difficulty focusing had nothing to do with attention. It had something to do with emotion and discomfort that is different, right? You feeling uncomfortable doing these particular things had nothing to do with attention but you'll figure it out when you have to do something that you have to focus on.

Kim 21:46

But guess what? Focus doesn't come from a pill. Focus comes from practice. The pills are there to help you, and it helps you so that you can function in a neurotypical world because that's what they're expecting of you. But then you'll figure out and unlocking your brain. What tricks you need to do so that you can be over here with them for a little bit so you can go back to your space. That's what it's there for.

Genie 22:06

I love it. That's one of my fears with medication for my kids is I don't have the therapeutic support in place for them to put in place to think that they need to understand how to make themselves accessible. Every parent is different. But there has to be a balance, because if the medicine is taken out, then they don't have any skills in place to say, this is how I operate. This is what I need to do. This is how I feel. This is what I need to do.

Genie 22:35

I'm anxious. This is what I need to do to not be anxious. So with that being said. Ms. Kim, how can people find you and reach out to you?

Kim 22:44

If you're in the Philadelphia area or actually, if you're in Pennsylvania and you're open for virtual therapy, my practice is ameltherapy.com.

Kim 22:53

I expanded and I've hired one, three other amazing clinicians who work with kids and teens so you can schedule a session with either me or my other three therapists, and we do virtual. So we are doing virtual groups right now. I'm running a group for transracial adoptees that's in person, but I also be running one virtually if there is interest. I also have a child anxiety group, Worry Warriors that's going to be running for kids aged seven to ten. I also have a team group that one of my clinicians is running that's specifically for girls of color for ages 14 to 17. That's coming up. And I also provide parent coaching on my other website, but there's a link for my therapy site for that. So I offer packages for parent coaching, and I'm also going to be running a six-week parenting group towards the end of the fall for any parents who are interested in conscious parenting.

Genie 23:50

Okay, look at that. After this guys, y'all know I've talked to Kim, but of course, it's The Parenting Cipher, and I always ask everyone, what's your favorite song that gives you hype and Kim said, Luchini by Camp Lo. Why is that your favorite song?

Kim 24:07

I don't know. I have a strong belief that I'm like, Pharrell. I see colors, and I listen to music, but I see these amazing colors, and it hits me in my soul. Don't know why, but every time I hear the hook hits me right here.

Kim 24:23

Do I understand anything they're singing in the rest of their album? No, I don't but that's song is fire.

Genie 24:59

That's pretty song. I mess up all types of words. I make up my own words, but it's the hook, the beat, it'll get you. Sometimes it'll get you. When you get old and you hear the lyrics. You're like, Oh! They're so good, though. Like, whenever I hear Bonita Applebum, I only remember the hook and I was like, this sounds so good. So I was telling my son, my 13-year-old son, I was like, yeah, then it played and was like, Bonita Applebum, I got to put you on. He was like, 36, 37. I was like, oh, wait, no.

Kim 25:06

The other song I really like is Electric Relaxation.

Genie 25:09


Kim 25:10

I had a guest last season. She was like, girl, I like that electric relaxation.

Kim 25:14

I was trying to keep it to my PG, but, yeah, that one.

Genie 25:18

Thank you so much for being a guest on The Cipher and giving us these tips about this pandemic girl.

Kim 25:43

Absolutely. I would say to everybody, just kind of trust yourself. Trust the process and you all know a lot more than you think you do. You're definitely an expert of your child and especially expert of their humanity. So go into your meetings. Keep that foremost in your mind and you'll be okay.

Genie 26:26

Thank you so much for listening. If this content is delivering value to you, please subscribe and go to wherever you listen to your podcast and give us a five-star review. That helps us build this community and that's what we're all about. Building this community as big as we can to deliver as much value as we can. The Parenting Cipher Podcast is produced by the Podcast Laundry Production Company and the executive producer myself, Genie Dawkins, until next time. Remember to be patient with yourself and your child

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