By Alex Coleman
In March of this year, the Western Institute of Nursing announced that College of Nursing at Brigham Young University alumni Christine K. Platt (MS ’14) has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Carol A. Lindeman Award for a New Researcher. This award has recognized research achievement since its start in 1976, and provides the recipient with a cash award of $100. In addition, their award-winning research paper is included in the conference proceedings.
As a first-year PhD student at the University of Arizona, she is only in the beginning stages of her research. Of her research, Jason Gelt of the University of Arizona says, “her study, entitled ‘Placement Disruption of Children with Disabilities in Foster Care,’ has the potential for life-changing results for both disabled children in the foster care system and the families that care for them.”
Of her feelings regarding receiving the award, Platt comments, “It tells me that what I’m doing matters. I love research. I enjoy writing. I love helping people, but I’m at a point in my career when I feel like I can give back to my profession. And the way to give back to my profession is really to make a difference in research and teaching. It’s validation that even when the nights get long and circumstances get challenging, to keep going.”
In the past, Platt has worked as a registered public health nurse, a hospital staff nurse and a critical care RN in cardiac and neuro intensive care unit. However, she is currently seeing patients at professional dermatologic clinic. She also volunteers in the evenings to serve those individuals in her community who are under- or un-insured, a vulnerable population for whom Platt has learned great compassion during her time as a foster mom for the past 10 years.
The foster children that Platt has cared for have often come with specific health complications. “Because of my intensive care and pediatric clinical experience,” she explains, “the state really liked to place children with special needs and medical conditions in my home, because they knew that if something went wrong they had someone with the training to handle that situation.”
Platt has fostered more than 14 children with special needs, and these disabilities come from a wide range, from learning disabilities to severe physical disabilities. Platt understands both how rewarding and difficult the responsibility to care for a foster child with a disability can be. When families lack the resources, education, or training to take in a child with special needs, it can be a very painful experience. This undermines their confidence and strength to be able to care for the child. It was this observation and personal experience that inspired her research topic.
The research Platt is conducting centers around her theory that the right combination of training and education could be key for successfully placing disabled foster children with foster families who are prepared to care for them. In her community, Platt saw that children with disabilities end up jumping from foster family to foster family and that they tend to spend a lot more time in the system. After proving that this was true through extensive data collection, she wanted to examine resources and protective factors which have already proved successful in providing a stable environment for these children.
This process involved looking at how training, education, or even political action could give these kids a real fighting chance and improve the system for them. Platt hopes that improving the preparedness of not only the foster caregivers, but the entire family who will be helping to contribute to the foster child’s quality of life will lead to improved outcomes for this vulnerable population. Her research has the potential to improve the health of this population, not only while they are in state custody, but for their entire lives.
Christine Platt received her award on April 16, 2020 at the 2020 WIN Conference Awards Lunch. BYU’s College of Nursing is proud to have alumni that truly live their graduating mantra of “Go Forth to Serve,” and offers their sincere congratulations.
featured photo courtesy of University of Arizona College of Nursing publications