As someone who has worked in the field of social work for a LONG time, I’ve encountered my fair share of amazing--amazing kids, stories, people. FCNI foster parent Maureen Nettles has to be very near the top of this “amazing” list. As a foster parent for somewhere near 25 years, she is the epitome of an individual living out her true calling--her mission, if you will.
Tag: foster youth
When I picked up Joe* for the first time from school, I saw a tall kid with dyed hair towering over a group of teenagers. The group all wore black and had an assortment of different hair colors and cuts. Joe and I made eye contact. I saw him begin to slowly walk over to me. I next noticed he had wireless earbuds on under his shaggy hair as it flopped around. I quickly greeted him and showed him to my car. I noticed his breathing beginning to get shallow once he stepped into my car. He quickly pulled out his Nintendo switch and turned it on.
Imagine being rudderless on a rough sea. Imagine rock climbing with no safety harness. Imagine boxing with no gloves. Imagine scuba diving with an empty tank. Imagine a house without a foundation. Now, imagine being a teenager...with no family.
The first morning I stayed with the people who became my Legal Guardians, I rolled out of bed to find the father figure in the kitchen gracefully sprinkling garlic salt on a mound of potatoes and eggs, serendating them with his own rendition of “I Feel Pretty.” He looked like a cross between a retired football player and Hagrid from Harry Potter, but sang like a gigantic angel. ([To this day,] I’ve secretly thought of him as my Fairy Godfather). He has always called me, “Pumpkin” and used phrases like, “diglty dangit” when frustrated.
My early childhood was fairly normal. I lived with my mom, step-dad and older sister in Santa Barbara. My mom was a surfer, so most of my childhood was spent at the beach. When I was eight years old, my home life started to change. Around this time, we moved to Santa Maria in order to save money. Unfortunately, our housing situation was stable for only about a year before we started experiencing homelessness off and on, often sleeping in our car. When I neared adolescence, my step-dad left and it was just my mom, sister and me.
While growing up, I think I had an above-average level of exposure to the foster care system. I had close family members and multiple friends who fostered and/or adopted kids. Also, two of my best friends in high school had been in foster care.
Your fridge is much more than a place for groceries and leftovers. In fact, your fridge shows what matters to you. I’m not talking about whether you’re eating a balanced diet, or whether you are trying to save the planet. Matter of fact, I’m not even referring to what’s inside your fridge. I’m talking about what’s on the outside of your fridge.
May is National Foster Care Month –– a time when we get to celebrate foster parents, a group of caring, committed people who are too often underappreciated! I count myself amongst the very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with foster families since the early 1970s. I certainly appreciate and admire all of the Amazing Families that have served children under the Family Care Network umbrella over the last 32 years. As our organization has grown, I have unfortunately been further and further removed from the day in and day out contact with our foster families.
At 17, Sabrina’s fears about her future increased each day she got closer to turning 18. As a foster youth, Sabrina didn’t have a family to support her or to live with following her emancipation from foster care at 18. And unfortunately, she couldn’t remain with her current foster parents because her mental health struggles had taken too much of a toil on their relationship.
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.