I started working with an 8-year-old Diego* and his family to address some of his more difficult behaviors, including his anger, defiance and aggression towards others. He frequently yelled at his parents and could become physical with the kids at school. When I started working with him in his home, one minute we would be playing basketball and laughing, and then the next minute Diego would be throwing gravel in his sibling’s face after she accidentally bumped into him. As a result, my time with him often felt like I was walking around a minefield.
Category: Voice of an FCNI Staff
Sponsor a Child is my most cherished fundraising campaign to be a part of here at Family Care Network. When I was interviewing for my position at FCNI, one of the first things that was mentioned was Sponsor a Child, our annual effort to work directly with our community to raise awareness and financial resources to ensure that the families and youth in our care have a joyful and bright holiday season. Having come from a family who had received similar services when I was younger, I instantly knew that I needed to work at Family Care Network.
Five years ago this month, my wife, Melissa, and I started to entertain an “out of the ordinary” idea. We were living in Tanzania while working at a nonprofit, but we were visiting the central coast as my wife was in the final trimester of her second pregnancy. Already with our two year old daughter, Promise, in tow, and a baby boy just weeks away, we started to consider how we might continue building our family through adoption, specifically by adopting an older child.
My sons are birth brothers, and they were placed in my home when they were 12 and 16. Unfortunately, their childhoods were splattered with trauma starting from the time they were born. Their birth parents met when they were both foster children themselves.
I was catching up with a friend one day, and as we talked he explained how things were pretty rough for him at the moment. At some point, he made the observation that he didn’t know how to approach some of his internal struggles because he didn’t know how to define what were mental health issues and what was related to mental illness. Basically, he was confused about how to talk about mental health because he didn’t know where mental illness fit in.
Working in FCNI’s administrative services, I don’t get to experience much direct interaction with our kids or families, at least not as much as I’d like. So I depend on our direct service staff to share their stories and experiences with me--their ups, downs, good days and even their hard days, and the countless examples they get to see of our staff’s and families’ resiliency and unwavering hope.
I have wanted to work with trauma-impacted children and foster youth since I was very young. I went off to get my degree in psychology and moved back to the Central Coast eager to enact change in children’s lives, but I never imagined how much this field would change me. In the two years I’ve worked at FCNI, my job as a Rehabilitation Specialist (RS) has consisted of working with kids and families in their daily environment to help them build skills they need to cope and thrive.
The increasing focus on transition age youth (TAY), ages 16–24, is important and necessary. TAY are navigating the developmental years of growing out of childhood and into adulthood. Brain development in TAY is incomplete, leading to limitations in decision making, impulsivity, risk taking, and emotion regulation. These years are important for individuation and development of an autonomous self. These are individuals on whom we should all be focused to be able to provide support, care, and direction as they navigate early adulthood.
In my role as a Social Worker, I work as part of a team to find the best solutions and situations for the kids and families we serve. Unfortunately, during this process, we often encounter heartbreak and disappointment. But when best laid plans go awry, we turn to the backup plans, and sometimes, a Plan B ends up being the best plan of all.
I’m Nat, a Rehabilitation Specialist working with youth at Family Care Network. I’ve been a mentor for about six months now, and I’d like to share about my experience because I think that mentoring foster youth makes a big difference in their lives and in our community. I met my mentee working as a Rehabilitation Specialist in our Emergency Shelter Care Program. She was in a shelter foster home for about six months, and during those months I picked her up from school almost every day, and spent the rest of the day with her.