It’s hard to think about, but I have been working with Foster Families for over 40 years. It goes without saying, this is a group of individuals that I hold in the highest esteem because each one of them has made an indelible, positive impact on the life of a foster child. I have found no better, no more consistent example of sacrificial-giving and life-changing impact than what is accomplished by foster parenting. It is a real labor of love.
Category: Voice of our CEO
About twenty six years ago, a group of us sat around discussing how we should be telling our story and communicating better to our foster families and community. Mind you, two plus decades of technology evolution seems like a century – so back then the newsletter was the avant-garde communications tool! Voila, the “Family Care-Connection” was born. And, this was to be no ordinary newsletter; this was to become a tapestry of creativity, with information artfully woven into an entertaining monthly masterpiece. The results were rather amazing, definitely overwhelming and costly, but also really fun and effective. This newsletter turned into a mini-magazine, replete with information such as:
Memorial Day is an excellent reminder that nothing is accomplished without sacrifice. Obviously, there is no greater sacrifice than giving one’s life for our country; but this day should also serve as a reminder to honor the tens of thousands of unsung heroes who sacrifice day in and day out to make life better for others; folks whose lives come, pass by and fade away; while there impact and contributions live on and on.
Americans love to celebrate stuff; special months, special days, special events, special causes, holidays… just about anything can be and is celebrated. This is good; celebration heartens the sole. So, can I invite you to celebrate with me an invisible class of amazing people; a group of selfless, hard-working, passionate folks who are not really on our radar screens, surely not the medias’; individuals who make life-changing impact every day in the lives of hundreds of children–Foster Parents!
Let us imagine for a moment, that your lifelong dream has been to help medically fragile children. You earned an advanced degree and you were lucky enough to get a job at a specialized Children’s Hospital. The pay was decent and the work, while challenging, was very rewarding. After several years, you were keenly aware of two things: one, you never receive a pay increase, and two, the needs of the children being served were becoming much greater. However, you continue steadfastly because of your heartfelt dedication to young lives in need of healing.
May is National Foster Care Month and our Foster Parents deserve great appreciation – they do an amazing, mostly unrecognized and unrewarded job. There aren’t too many folks willing to open up their home to a complete stranger who has been traumatized, who may have serious mental and/or emotional needs, or who presents some very challenging, difficult to manage behaviors. However, thankfully thousands of families still decide to foster parent with incredible results. And we should all be very thankful that they do.
Several people have asked me recently "did you ever imagine Family Care Network being what it is today?" That is a harder question to answer than you might imagine; and one I hadn’t really thought about before. No. Well, maybe yes…kind of? I’m not really sure! On one hand, absolutely not – there is no way I would have foreseen the Family Care Network as it exists today. On the other hand, I had a dream, a passion and an idea of what could possibly be.
Honestly, I am exhausted by the vitriol, hostile and negative climate which has swept over the American political process. It reminds me of two toddlers fighting over a toy; the back and forth game of “it’s mine,” “no, it’s mine,” eventually resulting in one or both parties having a major temper tantrum and someone getting hurt. It’s expected for kids to behave this way, but it’s disgusting for adults to and downright inexcusable for our “leaders” to behave as such. It is distressfully amazing how self-centered, narcissistic, self-righteous and immature we have become as a culture.
July is the official “Make a Difference to Children” month. By implication, it means to make a positive difference in the life of a child; helping them to transform to a healthier, better or improved state or situation through a personal relationship. Unfortunately, the Family Care Network works with children and youth whose lives have become different because of negative or damaging relationships. But our mission, “to enhance the wellbeing of children…,” is fulfillecd through our network of individuals making that positive difference.
In most of my 40 years of work within the foster care system, service delivery has, for the most part, been fragmented; each bundled nicely within its own silo. The thought of integrating, or terms like “seamless service delivery,” not only didn’t exist, but were discouraged. Bureaucrats were more interested in protecting their turf, budget, control…or whatever. The thought: “This is just the way we do things...” prevailed; and rarely did the question “can we do it a better way to serve foster children?” come up. The big losers were always the kids.