The work of the Family Care Network requires a lot of heart. As an agency which provides an array of human health services—from Emergency Shelter care for kids needing immediate safety to helping teens develop critical life skills to putting homeless families in affordable housing and supporting their efforts to become self-sufficient against numerous obstacles—FCNI utilizes all of the compassion, resolve and resources that our staff and community invest in our mission to meet high-needs on a daily basis. The individuals who dedicate themselves to our efforts do so for a multitude of reasons, but the most prevalent reason seems to be having a heart to serve. We know that many of us couldn’t meet the challenges that face us and the people we serve if our hearts weren’t in it; if we didn’t believe whole-heartedly in what we do and why we do it.
Tag: foster care
When I started the Family Care Network in 1987, there was certainly a different approach and philosophy driving the foster care system; now, looking back, it seems like the Stone Age. The system has come a long way, but it has been a tough, hard row to hoe.
For the past 25 years, I have been a Resource Parent to over 100 youth ages 12 through 18 and yes, that has been my choice! Most people who hear these numbers cringe and exclaim that they can’t understand why anyone would choose to surround themselves with teenagers. For me, it has been an incredible opportunity to help kids prepare for the transition to adulthood. When I started fostering, there were no Transitional Housing support programs for youth who were aging out of the foster care system.
In full disclosure, by day I am a licensed therapist and work in a therapeutic foster care program; and by night I am an adoptive and foster parent. As a therapist, I have quoted evidence-based practices and suggested all sorts of strength-based and solution-focused interventions to foster parents, adoptive parents, bio-parents and, in moments of desperation, even to my wife. As a parent, I have also given the proverbial eye roll to the same advice when given to me.
Have you ever seen a picture of a child who is starving from malnutrition? It’s difficult. It’s haunting! Images of this severe level of distress either compel you to look away or strongly motivate you to want to make a difference. Similarly, seeing children starving emotionally from mal-parenting, abuse and neglect, and a lack of love and nurturing can ignite the same feelings.
June 3rd, 1998 was the best day of my life, next to the birth of my children and marrying the man of my dreams, of course. On that third day of June, I met and moved in with my new foster family. I didn’t know it at the time, but one day Desiree, Cloy and their two beautiful daughters, Shelby and Kaylee, would become my forever family.
Nelson Mandela said it simply and profoundly, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." In a country as wealthy, ingenious and resourceful as the United States, one would think that our Care and Treatment of Children would be stellar, the very best. But that’s just not the case. Truth is, using Mr. Mandela’s axiom, I think America has lost its “soul.”
In the summer of 2012, the State Legislature enacted SB 1013 which mandated the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to launch a broad-based, stakeholder process to determine how to reform California’s foster care system by creating a “continuum of programs and services that promote positive outcomes for children and families”, and provide a comprehensive recommendation to the Legislature by the end of 2014. Thus, began an intense two and half year process in which I was honored to be a participant.
March is Social Worker Appreciation month and as a long time foster parent I wanted to weigh in on my experience with these intrepid, hardworking souls. Let’s be honest, no one becomes a Social Worker to make big bucks or to become famous. They do it because they want to make a difference in the lives of children and families. Most of the Social Workers I have worked with over the past 25 years have had 25 to 30 children on their caseloads and yet they make sure to see each child at least once a month—no matter where s/he might be.
When I was asked to write a blog [this being my first one ever] about why I work for the Family Care Network and try to “be the difference,” I was apprehensive, because the reason is very personal for me. It is something I have shared with very few people. Most of the people I work closely with at Family Care Network don’t know the reason for my commitment to this agency. Up until right now, I have chosen to share my story only with my closest friends and family. I guess I have been afraid of being judged; hopefully a very unrealistic fear. So, here’s my sto