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.
Strategic Planning has been a significant element in my four decades of executive administration in both the public and private sectors. I started the Family Care Network in 1987 with a Strategic Plan, and we have continued to follow an aggressive planning process which has produced amazing results. But, it has not been without challenges and, at times, a lot of frustration! The good news–the ups and downs have helped us to hone an approach which is very effective and manageable.
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.
I became a mentor after bonding with a young man that I had tutored. We hit it off very well, and neither of us wanted our relationship to end when the tutoring did. I wanted Paul* to know that I cared about him, and not just because I wanted him to do well in school, but because we had started to build a relationship that I really enjoyed.
Imagine if you will, how wonderful it would be to have the skills to improve a child or youth’s health, reduce obesity, improve academic performance and stabilize school behavior, improve self-confidence, build resiliency, reduce risk factors for engaging in violent or criminal behavior, improve future hopefulness and goal setting, build leadership skills and substantially improve their potential for success and achievement. Sound challenging? It’s not. Become a Mentor!
On October 1st, nearly 1000 wishes came to us from those in our care. We asked the community to come together to help us give our children, youth and families a holiday to remember—fulfill the wishes that they had specifically requested. And what happened next was incredible.
I must really be getting old fast, because time is accelerating at warp speed. Seriously, 2014 can’t be coming to an end; the past year seems like a blur. It almost feels like we went from 2013 to 2015. Yes – 2015! Let’s say goodbye to another year. Be careful, in a nod and a wink it will be 2016.
As years go, 2014 was a good one. We started out in grand style, holding our Grand Opening in our new Administrative Headquarters and Conference Center. Nearly 500 people showed up to help us celebrate this accomplishment.
As the Christmas holiday is less than 24 hours away, we here at FCNI are reflecting on all the ways our amazing Central Coast community gives towards our efforts throughout the year. One of the most vital ways that you give throughout the year is with your time—probably the most precious commodity we each possess.
Sir Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” These words have always inhabited my thoughts; a simple, profound truth. Think for a moment what it would be like if we were all obsessed by what we gave and not with what we get. Greed only corrupts the human heart–compassion invigorates it!
Nobody can dispute the value to a child, whether in the foster care system or not, of having a Permanent Family. In my 40 something years of working within the Child Welfare System, the public policy shift to Safety, Wellbeing and Permanency has been fantastic – absolutely in the best interest of kids within the system. In the past 15 years, the number of children and youth in the foster care system has dropped by around 27%; much of this attributable to moving kids quickly to permanency.