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.
Tag: foster care
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
First, a few years into working with children with behavior problems stemming from trauma, I began to notice how some kids developed a sense of hopelessness in very rigid homes/group homes. The more difficult a child’s behaviors were, the more restrictive the consequences would become; and eventually, the child would have no privileges and no areas of success. Once this happened, they had nothing left to lose and their behaviors would often escalate.
When my daughter first moved in with me as my then foster daughter, I was her 17th home. After just a few weeks, the testing began. It felt like a 24-hour a day attack; she was very determined to push me away. Even though I had every reason to be emotional, angry, frustrated, doubtful and full of fear, I quickly realized that my “rights” to these feelings were not doing me any good. I would imagine my girl getting on a daily roller coaster ride and I knew that I had to refuse to get on it with her.