This year, Family Care Network launched our Give Joy fundraising campaign to raise funds to provide the children, youth and families in our care with everything they need to have a positive holiday experience. As our team was planning this campaign, setting goals, and reaching out to our community for support, I couldn’t help but reflect on the true meaning and impact of joy itself. After a very hard year, especially for the children and families we serve, there is such a need for joy and light-heartedness.
As we come to the end of September, National Recovery Month, I would like to share a few thoughts on how the Family Care Network views and approaches the Recovery process. Historically, recovery Month was associated with substance use disorder (SUD) – addiction recovery. Over time though, “Recovery” has grown to encompass a much broader arena. Recovery is synonymous with healing, well beyond addiction. Our organization works with all kinds of individuals and families in “Recovery.” Recovering from trauma, addiction, physical health issues, and broken relationships.
Coral was 11 years old when her mom, recently incarcerated, decided to relinquish her parental rights, putting Coral’s care into the hands of the state. While Coral’s life up to this point was not like her friends’ lives--her “home” was either their car or a motel room, and Coral’s mom slept most days because she’d be up all night with her friends, leaving Coral to feed and take care of herself--it was the only life she had ever known. It was familiar.
I am very excited about the prospects of radically transforming our Child Welfare/Child Protective Services Systems. For three-plus decades, Family Care Network has worked with traumatized children, youth and families after they have gone over the falls, crashed on the rocks, and have been severely broken and damaged in the process. How wonderful--and smart--it will be to provide our very successful programs and services way upstream, to prevent system involvement. The prospects are exciting!
Here we are, in the 21st century, and yet, we are still operating our Child Welfare Services (CWS) system on outdated, residual principles and practices from the 19th century! Seriously. Consequently, we have done little to mitigate child abuse and neglect (now called “maltreatment”), or enhance the wellbeing of children and families across culture. It is time for a change.
For the first time in a long time, Cooper was afraid. A lifelong struggle with drug addiction had finally resulted in his 8 year-old daughter, Traci, being removed from his care and placed into a foster home for her safety. He knew he needed treatment or he'd risk losing his daughter forever, or even his own life. Recognizing that he’d hit rock bottom, Cooper committed himself fully to getting and staying clean. He had finally accepted the harsh reality that he’d only get to watch his daughter grow up and be a part of her life if he were sober and safe.
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.
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.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
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.