Travel Reimbursement — As you know, travel reimbursement is not required by the State, however we understand how far you must stretch your reimbursement and want to conƟnue to help . We have found a program for you to claim your mileage to the child’s doctor, denƟst or therapist which will increase mileage reimburse- ment. Medicaid will reimburse you at $.56 a mile for these medical visits. This will be effecƟve March 1, 2016. The other approved trav- el will remain the same. Forms will be provided!!
Group Homes — CPS has placed a ban on placing in Group Homes as of December 17, 2015. This was prompted by a concern idenƟfied in the ruling of the recent Court case against CPS. The Court case request- ed Group Homes be re-evaluated regarding the placement of PMC fos- ter children. The court requested all group homes which conƟnued to operate have 24 hour awake staff. CPS responded by placing a “hold on placement “ for all Group Homes. This ruling impacted our (AWFC) 29 group homes and caused a loss of 109 bed spaces. The Court ruling stated a Special Master will be chosen to review this issue as well as other areas that impact the rights of foster children as outlined in the 1st and 14th ConsƟtuƟonal amendments. CPS has brought suit to re- verse the Court ruling . Reimbursement Rate for Redesign OCOK (Region 3b) — OCOK has determined that they will combine the levels for Intense and Specialized which will be called TherapeuƟc. The payment for Thera-
peuƟc will be $53.00. OKOC also is combining Moderate and Basic which will be called Standard. The Standard rate will be $25.32. The money saved will go to the operaƟon of OKOC. As a way to help transi- Ɵon into this pay reducƟon, AWFC will conƟnue to pay the current moderate rate for those children already placed in your homes. Any new moderate level placements will be reimbursed at the new rate. ( This change could potenƟally impact payments to agencies by 21%. The Redesign done by Providence in Regions 2/9 cost AWFC in excess of $160,000 in a year and involved approximately 190 children.)
CONFERENCES/FOSTER PARENT APPRECIATION: April 28 and 29: Brownwood/Wichita Falls May 6: McAllen/Corpus ChrisƟ May 10: Amarillo May 11: El Paso May 13: San Antonio/Round Rock/Houston May 21: Dallas/Tyler
November 29: Amarillo November 30: El Paso December 2: Brownwood December 3: Wichita Falls (am)/ Dallas (pm) December 4: Tyler December 6: Houston December 7: Corpus ChrisƟ December 8: McAllen
December 10: San Antonio December 11: Round Rock December 13: Staff Party
LAUNCH CAMP: June 11-14 FIESTA TEXAS: June 25
As you all know, I grew up with A World For Children. My parents, Paul and Sha- ron Willis, along with their partner, Re- becca Allen, began the agency in 1997. I watched from the outside, as it grew and blossomed across the State. I went to business school, and then law school, de- ciding which way life would take me. I clawed my way through spreadsheets and financial terms and lots and lots of num- bers, but didn’t find my passion. AŌer law school, I went into the world of family law, filing moƟons, working with clients,
appearing in court, but sƟll searching for a way to make a real impact in the world, not just go through the moƟons. As I conƟnued my personal journey, A World For Children conƟnued in their growth and needs, and it was decided it was Ɵme for the agency to have an aƩorney. In 2010, I joined A World For Children as General Counsel. I found my niche. I found the greater good for which I had been searching. But, most importantly, I found our foster fam- ilies and staff. In the big corporate world, everyone is there for the almighty dollar and willing to step on whoever or whatever to get ahead. In the world I now live, all of the “self” has been stripped away. There is no “me”, there is only how can I help “you”. No one is in this business to get rich with worldly possessions; they are here to enrich lives. IT is all give, with no expectaƟon of return. In the six years, I have never ceased to be amazed by the lengths people will go to in order for one child to succeed. Since Rebecca decided to not work full Ɵme and Mom and Dad have begun to step back a liƩle, I have had the opportuni- ty to delve deeper into the offices, the families, and the children that we serve. And, once again, I am completely blown away. The everyday struggle that some (or most) of our families have just aƩempƟng to heal broken children, all whilst the media berates foster care, the State requires more, the public quesƟons moƟves, is unreal. You ask a foster parent how they are doing and they will tell you the success one of their children has had. You ask if they need anything and they will make a request for a child in their home. You ask how they conƟnue and they simply will say the children need them. And, the staff are just as dedicated. Could they have gone out and made a lot in another industry? Yes, of course. They are more than capable. But, that’s not where their hearts are. They are here to change lives. You talk to a staff that is headed three hours away to rock a baby in a hospital, aŌer they were up unƟl midnight to place a sibling group; there aren’t complaints, there is just determinaƟon. So many nights are given up with their own families to ensure a foster family has the support they need to make it through just one more day. Hours are spent talking, stroking, hugging, and, most importantly, listening. I am humbled; I am proud; I am excited. With the hearts of AWFC foster families and staff, the sky is the limit. I am thrilled to see what God has in store for us, and to be part of the future!
AWFC corporate office is moving. We are
Launch Camp is slated for June 11‐14. We are planning a big affair as usual. The theme this year is Knights of the Round Table, focusing on medieval Ɵmes. What a grand experience for our older teens—15‐18+. More informaƟon will be coming soon. Foster parents are some of the busiest folks in our World. They must aƩend a “1,000” meeƟngs, take their children to many ap- pointments and lots of acƟviƟes. In addi- Ɵon to all these demands, they must aƩend many hours of training, Whew…...just talk- ing about it makes me Ɵred.
searching for a new home in Round Rock or the surrounding area. We will be in our new locaƟon by June 1. Also our Wichita Falls office is moving. They will be in their new digs by May 1.
Captain Ashleigh and Rosye Dingle are having a serious conversaƟon at last year’s camp. They are determining the best strategy in contain- ing the raiding pirates…..such fun!
Because foster parents are our heroes and heroines, we always celebrate them during April/May. This year we are going to beƩer uƟlize their Ɵme and have a CelebraƟon/ Training Conference in our various areas.—(check page 1 of the newsleƩer for spe- cific dates). We hope to see all of our families at these events.
EducaƟon is so very important for our children in care. Many are behind in school due to their home circumstances. Our families and staff really emphasize the importance of educa‐ Ɵon. The agency provides school supplies for each child as well as $100 for school age children to help with clothing costs and to ensure each child has a posiƟve beginning. In addiƟon, many of our offices host a Back‐to‐School Celebra‐ Ɵon to reinforce the need to be successful in school.
AWFC provides a wonderful summer adventure for all our children in care as well as their families. Last year we pro- vided Ɵckets for over 1800 folks. As we all dress in the same t-shirt design, we definitely stand out in the crowd. Many of our youngsters have never been out of their coun- ty. This is a trip they can share with others as well as have a grand day. We help with gas and hotels for the adventure. Mark your calendars for June 25, 2016.
By Marni Morgan, AWFC Statewide Program Administrator Our world has so many exciƟng opportuniƟes ahead of us! We wanted to be sure that we gave you as much informaƟon as we had, so you can know what’s going on in Texas foster care and how it affects our World. Chil- dren’s Rights out of New York City filed a class acƟon lawsuit against the State of Texas regarding the treatment and outcomes of foster care youth in Texas. The court gave their opinion and ruling and there were many recommenda- Ɵons, but these were some of the highlights. The court would like a Special Master assigned who is an individual that is an expert in a field relevant to foster care systems. If the two parƟes cannot agree on the Special Master, each presents two candidates and the court will choose. Within the 180 days of the Special Master being selected, the Special Master will present the Court with an ImplementaƟon Plan with the recommendaƟons to reform the Texas Foster Care System and address consƟtuƟonal violaƟons noted in the court verdict. The Special Master will serve unƟl the Court determines he or she is no longer needed. The other ruling that was effecƟve December 17 th , 2015, was that foster children will no longer be placed into group home seƫngs that do not have 24-hour staff supervision. Texas has appealed these rulings. So how does this affect you? We all know that there are things in the child welfare system that could be improved. Our goal and your goal is to provide the most quality, therapeuƟc care for children that we can provide. It can feel overwhelming knowing that all of these changes are going on around you, and all you want to do is just love and take care of children. Well, we want you to keep your focus on that and conƟnue to provide the selfless, outstanding care that you provide. There is a way that you can show all of the amazing work you are doing. We already see it, but we want the WORLD to see it! So, here is an opportunity to do just that! As you know, as an agency we are monitored by Contracts, RCCL, and YFT. There are many measures put in place to ensure that we as an agency are ensuring the quality of care that you all provide. Each one of those enƟƟes has their own indicators and outcomes that we all have to meet, but right now we are going to give you an opportunity that is measured through Contracts. We as an agency are parƟcipaƟng in something called The DemonstraƟon and/or ResidenƟal Foster Care Contracts TransformaƟon. Being a parƟci- pant in the DemonstraƟon is voluntary at this Ɵme, and we are so confident in the work that you do, we are parƟci- paƟng. The way this works is that we will be recording data on certain services that you already parƟcipate in, such as coordinaƟng and ensuring communicaƟon with children’s siblings, or ensuring our older youth get a job, or get a driver’s license, etc.. We will turn that data in to Contracts showing all of the measures that you are meeƟng and we will turn that data in quarterly. Then at the end of the year, we will be given a scorecard/report card to show how we did as a whole, as an agency. Your director in your area will be doing a training with you to go into more detail but that is the “main thing about the main thing” as they say! Please know that AWFC is very involved in ensuring quality care for Texas children and very involved in providing you with the support that you need. We truly believe that as these changes and potenƟal changes are happening, we have the best of the best foster parents who can ride the wave with us and be the trailblazers in en- tering a new mindset in fostering. Please know how much we admire and appreciate the work that you do and as we go on this journey, we will go on it together!
And the winner is…..Thelma De La Rosa. Thel‐ ma is the perfect example of what we look for in an employee when we select the Above and Beyond Award. Thelma is on the accounƟng team and is re‐ sponsible for payroll and HR. She has been with AWFC since 2003. To know Thelma is to love Thelma. She is full of energy and takes every chance to help anyone at any Ɵme and she is a posiƟve influence to all those around her. Thelma shares her life with her husband John, son Anthony and daughter‐in‐law Melissa and of course, her fur babies, Rocky and Molly. AWFC is very blessed to have Thelma on our team. In further describing Thelma, Paul Willis, President of AWFC stated, "We oŌen hear someone say a certain person is “one in a million”. Most of the Ɵme it is just a kind, passing remark. However, this Ɵme when we say, “she is truly one in ten million”, you just know we can only be talking about Thelma De La Rosa. Not just here in the RR office, but across the enƟre agency, when someone needs something, no maƩer what, the answer is always the same. We answer, “Call Thelma”. The answer will be quick, accurate, compassionate and kind and (if needed), totally confidenƟal, and DIRECT AND TO THE POINT (if needed). She is never too busy, never
impaƟent, never arrogant, and would never, ever say “this is not my job”. She just does it. Most of all, she has the God-given talent that we have all come to greatly appreciate. She tells it like it is with total confidence, understanding, and such a beauƟful smile that we all gladly smile back and say, “THANK GOD FOR THELMA!!!!!”
Written by Lori St. Alma, AWFC Statewide Clinical Director Soon Dr. Kirk Coverstone of Stonebridge Behavioral Health and Richard Wallace, State Director of Pathways Community Support of Texas will join Ashleigh Wilkes and me to discuss how we can streamline access to the most efficient and effective treatment for children. Coverstone and Wallace are interested in partnering with AWFC on a pilot program. According to them, they chose to hopefully partner with AWFC because of our philosophy of care and treatment for children. Dr. Coverstone has created an electronically accessed system of input that gives foster parents and case management staff a more direct line of communication to providers enabling a continuity of care that has simply eluded our system to this point. It’s an exciting opportunity to provide a ground-breaking positive adjustment to care for our kids and families.
ChrisƟne Roberts has stepped up into the San Antonio Office Regional Director role as Marni Morgan has moved into administraƟon assuming the role of Statewide Program Administrator. Both of the ladies deserve a big handclap. As ChrisƟne moved into the RD posiƟon, she had big shoes to fill (Marni must wear a size 13). In viewing all the unanƟcipated challenges ChrisƟne has experienced, Ashleigh Wilkes, ExecuƟve Director, decided to present a brand new award: BE BRAVE. According to Ashleigh, “SomeƟmes the world of social work requires us to walk through some valleys and climb some mountains. ChrisƟne showed the un- wavering ability to do both last year. When faced with some of the most difficult challenges she has ever con- tended with, she showed strength, perseverance, digni- ty and leadership. She truly deserved the “BE BRAVE” award.” A San Antonio staff member concurs with Ash- leigh and goes on to explain, “As I watch our Regional Director and the full scope she experienced over the last six months, I agree she deserves the “BE BRAVE” award. The best part about ChrisƟne Roberts isn’t the seamless way she eased into the role of Regional Direc- tor or the glossy perfecƟon with which she fulfilled the posiƟon and made it hers; it was never that preƩy or easy. The best part is that despite the inevitable grow- ing pains of a change so drasƟc within our office make- up, she not only stayed the course but she took hold and commanded it. She graciously stepped into whatev-
er posiƟon we needed, always in an effort to help shoulder the load of her case managers. It hasn’t been an easy transiƟon but the heart she has for her team has never wavered. Her sheer passion for this work and for our team, shows in the way she has her hands in every pot. When she’s not in the office serving as RD, she’s at a home visit or she’s building up our working family roster; she’s aƩending media training to help strengthen our fundraising efforts or she’s baking a cake and taking the Ɵme to honor her staff. She’s in every which direcƟon she needs to be. She literally does it all, and she does it well. When she first became RD all those months ago, nobody could know how it would all turn out. She had some big shoes to fill, and that in itself was a hurdle to overcome, but she bravely stepped into the role and is filling it in a way only she can. She’s truly become the RD we need, the absolute heart of the San Antonio/Victoria team.” What a compliment from ChrisƟna Cortez.
The Amarillo AWFC Office would like to thank Mike and Tara Judd for their years of service as foster parents in the Am- arillo Area! Mike and Tara were licensed in 2006 and served a total of 45 placements, three of which became permanent mem- bers of the Judd family via adoption! Mike and Tara were won- derful foster parents who valued family, education and spiritual
growth. Mike and Tara opened their home to large sibling groups and served every age imaginable, from newborns all the way to teenagers. Mike and Tara “retired” in November of 2015 and are looking forward to the next stage of their lives. AWFC will truly miss this family! Thank you, Mike and Tara, for your compassion, your service, and your hearts for children in foster care!
Mrs. Dominguez became a foster parent on July 09, 2010, in El Paso. Mrs. Dominguez stated she became a foster parent because her biological children were older and she wanted to have young children in her home again. Now that her biological children are grown up, she has the leisure Ɵme to take care of and foster young children. Mrs. Dominguez was a foster parent for more than five years and through the years she has devoted her Ɵme and aƩen‐ Ɵon to foster children. She adopt‐
ed Adrian Chacon on April 19, 2013. She also has cared for three of a sibling group of five since April 23, 2012, the other two children being placed in another AWFC foster home due to Mrs. Dominguez not having the capac‐ ity to care for them at that Ɵme. The children came from the DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) (CPS) in Jua‐ rez, Mexico, and were severely malnourished. Mrs. Dominguez voiced that she would like to adopt the sibling group of five. She stated that aŌer adopƟng Adrian Chacon she felt she had been very successful and decided to adopt the sibling group of five. Mrs. Dominguez adopted these five children last year on NaƟonal AdopƟon Day which took place on November 21, 2015. She decided to close aŌer adopƟng a total of six children.
During 2015, AWFC assisted 118 children in care find their “forever family”. November is adopƟon month and 31 of our children celebrated having a forever family. What dancing, singing and smiling must go on in the hearts of those 118 children. A big salute to God for facilitaƟng this forever happiness.
On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, Roberto & Amelia Trevino of McAllen adopted these handsome boys. They are a sib‐ ling group of four named Vicente (12), Jordan (8), David (3) and Aza (4). They had been in the Trevino home for over two years now and were awaiƟng their forever home. The boys so wanted to be part of the Trevino family perma‐ nently and the Trevino family consid‐ ered them to already be their boys from the moment they walked into their home. Above is only 1/3 of the boys’ new family as the Trevino family is a very large family with adult chil‐ dren and grandchildren. They enjoy having lots of family gatherings and it’s never quiet or a dull moment when they gather on the weekends. The boys were so excited to have their for‐ ever family and the fact that they all got to stay together.
Savannah Brooke Evans – 11 years old Placed in foster care April of 2008 and adopted by foster parents on March 26, 2010. Question: What are the positives of adop- tion?
The students of SAGE (Student’s As- sisting ‘N’ Good Endeavors) at West Texas A&M University invited A World for Children to attend a Holiday themed party on Saturday, December 5, 2015. Each child received a per- sonalized stocking full of goodies. Santa and his elves arrived and played reindeer games with the chil- dren, and a special surprise visit from Olaf was made. The children had a great time hanging out with the col- lege students and making crafts, eat- ing candy and drinking hot chocolate .
Savannah: Adoption was a fresh start for me. You go from a bad situation to a good situa- tion. There were good things about foster care, too. I met friends (Jade) that were just like me. My parents have done respite for other foster children, and I got to meet Mo and Shay and Perla – we all came from the same place. Question: Are you glad you were adopted? Savannah: Yes, I am glad. I remember less (about her past home) than I used to, but I still remember some things. And I’m so glad I was adopted. Question: What makes your new family special? Savannah: My parents are still foster parents, and every six months to a year I get a new brother or sister. I have a lot of brothers and sisters now, and our family keeps ex- panding. Question: How do your parents make you feel special? Savannah: Adoption day is special. On the anniversary in March we reflect on our adoption, go back and look at pic- tures, and talk about it. Question: What do you like most about being adopted? Savannah: Adoption makes me different, but in a good way. I am proud to tell people I am adopted. Adoption was my second chance at life. My life before I was adopt- ed was gloomy, but when I got adopted, everything got better.
Amarillo NaƟonal Bank The Josephine Anderson Charitable Trust The Kimble FoundaƟon Trust The Dr. Kent Roberts and Ilene Roberts BallieƩ FoundaƟon Kim Waters/Amy Crowley ‐ Trinity BapƟst Church
RecruiƟng foster families is challenging. When you talk to families about it, oŌen their first comment is, “I could never give the child back”. This is a common response. Below, one of our foster families from Amarillo shares their experience and how they overcame this concern. Below is a porƟon of their Christmas leƩer sent out to family and friends……..
Randy Salinas came to A World for Children in 2008. He and his three siblings were not able to be placed together. Randy struggled when coming into care. He was the oldest of his siblings and was used to being the primary caregiver. Randy came across as defiant, hard- headed, temperamental and moody. AŌer four months, the family felt they were no longer going to be able to work with Randy and put in a 30 day noƟce. CPS and the therapist were recommending RTC. Randy was moved to another foster home and given another chance. From that day forward he never looked back and worked very hard to try to learn coping skills and deal with his feelings. Randy’s bio-parents came in and out of Randy and his
siblings’ lives. At one point their dad would be working really hard on his plans and CPS would talk about unsupervised visits, but then dad would mess up… then his mom would start doing really well and geƫng her life on track but the same thing would happen over and over. For years, this sibling set would get their hopes up only to be let down Ɵme and Ɵme again. Randy graduated in 2013. From there he enlisted in the Marines and started his family. Randy is currently working at Superior Cable CorporaƟon. He goes yearly to a base in Twentynine Palms, California for Marine Corps training. His daughter Sophie is two and his baby’s name is RoseAnne. His beauƟful wife’s name is Alondra. Randy has overcome so many obstacles in his life and just
kept his eyes faced forward. He loves his family and they cherish him. Randy stated, “Foster care has given me a family away from home. The Valdez family treated me like one of their own and sƟll do even though I do not live with them anymore. We sƟll keep in touch and visit just about every day. If it had not been for A World for Children and my move to Bangs, there would be many things I wouldn’t have, like meeƟng my beauƟful wife and my two beauƟful babies. My life could have been so different.”
Brownwood/Wichita offices would like to take a moment to say how thankful we are for the many amazing people who help sponsor our children throughout the year, but parƟcularly during the holiday season. We would like to say a special “Thank You” to the Kohler Co. in Brownwood, TX, for sponsoring many of our foster Childrenfor Christmas. AddiƟonally they also volunteered to work at our “Frozen” themed Christmas party to help make this a magical experience. And another big “Thank You” to our amazing foster parent Mike Lopez who in addiƟon to raising three adopted children and seven foster children, he somehow found Ɵme to build a Smoker for the Brownwood office to raffle off in order to raise Christmas monies. We would also like to say “Thank You” to one of our very special foster parents, Meagan Kirk, who worked Ɵrelessly to get our Wichita Falls children sponsored for Christmas. In addiƟon to that, Meagan has taken over our Facebook page to keep it updated and fresh. She has really
Special thanks to OUR DONORS : Kohler Company Employees
Dr. Charlie Sargent Dr. Richard Connell
Mike Lopez Megan Kirk Mike Qunell Fran JusƟce and Friends Andy’s Pest Control
embraced the mission of trying to get new foster parents so when a child is experiencing some of the darkest days of their life A World for Children will be able to provide that child with a warm bed to sleep in and loving arms to hold them. So during this Thanksgiving season, the Brownwood and Wichita offices would like to say “Thank You” to all of the many people in our communiƟes who recognize that even if they are not able to become a foster parent, they are able to truly make a difference in the life of a child.
Nancy Billings Susan Damron Kimberly Kincaid
Meet MaƩ and Jacki Angell. MaƩ spoke to his church, The Church of the Nazarene, about foster care and adopƟon. He did an amazing job of sharing his story and drawing awareness to children’s needs in their community. AWFC had a table set up and was there for support and to answer quesƟons. The Angell's adopted their two girls in July 2015. Brownwood Chamber Holds a Ribbon Cutting for A World for Children
AWFC Brownwood had a booth at the local Pioneer Days and sold raffle Ɵckets for several wreaths that Sharon made for the office. Our foster parent, Mike Lopez, also made and donated a smoker to be raffled. Both the Brownwood team and the Wichita Falls team were able to get all of our foster children’s Christmas presents spon- sored.
Recently an AWFC sponsor approached us with the re‐ quest to honor her friend's daughter on her first birth‐ day with a donaƟon to AWFC. Laurie Chastain ex‐ plained that her friend's family was very blessed & did not have a need for more clothes or toys. Laurie decided to honor her by giv‐ ing to children in foster care in their daughter's name. It has been reported back that the giŌ was appreciated and has inspired others to con‐ sider ways to give back.
The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cuƫng on Tuesday, October 6th, for A World for Children. Pictured above are A World for Children staff and the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. A World for Children provides safe, nurturing, therapeuƟc homes to children removed from their family of origin due to abuse and neglect. With more than 40,000 confirmed cases of abuse and neglect in Texas, A World for Children pro‐ vides refuge for children with broken hearts and lives and works to bring restoraƟon and healing to children and families. For more informaƟon on foster parenƟng or adopƟon, call them at (325) 641‐1055, stop by their offices located at 504 Center Avenue or visit them online at www.awfc.org.
Fran JusƟce and friends rallied to- gether and raised money so Olaf could aƩend our Christmas party.
The foster parent forum was started by CPS in San Angelo and now is being extended to the Permian Ba- sin. This is really a great opportunity for CPS, Agencies and current Foster Parents or interested Foster Parents to come together and build a collabo- raƟve relaƟonship, uniƟng everyone into "one team". The meeƟng is intended to an- swer quesƟons, quash myths, and suggest changes/ideas to make things beƩer and put feet to those changes/ ideas. We collaborate about beƩer ways to recruit good homes, process the hardships of fostering and coming up with soluƟons to make it beƩer. We meet quarterly on two separate nights and kids are welcome .
The media report all the disasters of foster care and very seldom report success. Na’Talya Payne, Brownwood Case Manager, shares this “success” story:
“Marisa "Missy" Benson, currently known as Missy Steward came into foster care on March 27, 2013. She was always a young lady with big dreams, a desire to help others, involved in church, and very independent. While in foster care, she worked, paid for and bought her 1st car, graduated high school, and was very respon- sible. While in care we had a good working relationship until she was not allowed to do something and our rela- tionship changed to where she wasn't very involved with me. However, she left care on her 18th birthday on Au- gust 10, 2014; she got married right after leaving and started her new life journey with her husband. I reached out to Missy a few times and she didn't respond; howev- er, years passed and she recently, this year, contacted me on Facebook and we became friends. She also invited me to her baby shower, which was very touching con- sidering she wasn't too happy with me when she left care. It was good to be thought of. She is doing very well on her new journey in life. She is about to be a mother to a sweet little boy, still happily married, has her own in-home daycare, owns her own car, and she and her husband are youth leaders at their church. She expressed she was very happy with her life and her ac- complishments. Missy has always been a young lady full of determination, desires to be successful, and motivated to ensure she had a better life. We are so proud of Missy!”
By N’Talya Payne, AWFC Brownwood Case Manager
“Sara " came into care and was placed in one of my homes and was soon moved to another home due to a family situation. “Sara” has always been a tough cookie but somehow she touched my heart .. She was truly broken and lost. She didn't know who she was. She was always looking for love, acceptance, and belonging from her sister and others; she was always rejected and would do negative things to get her needs met. “Sara” had very out of control behavior - verbally and physically aggressive, and would tantrum like a seven year-old. However, her behavior was a product of her trauma. The treatment team all worked diligently with “Sara” by providing her therapeutic treatment and interventions. We were determined not to give up on “Sara” because we knew and could see her pain/hurt. We wanted her to know we were there to help her through this and that we loved her dearly. Although she had out-of-control behavior, she had a heart because once she calmed down, she would process and apologize for her negative behaviors. However, she was her worst enemy and struggled internally within herself. A sad day came when we realized she needed more restrictive environment . My heart hurt deeply having to face the fact that my sweet “Sara” had to leave but I was at peace because I knew in order for her to be successful she needed more intense treatment. I thank my supervisor for allowing me to travel with her CPS worker that day to transport her to an RTC in Katy, Texas. We got to spend a little more time together before I was separated from my baby girl. She was very happy and thankful I got to go so she could say good-bye. She wrote me a touching letter which she gave to me when we dropped her off. Many tears and hugs were shared that day. I looked her in the eyes and assured her she would be just fine and how I was only a phone call away. I reminded her that she was somebody, that she deserves the best like everyone else, that she had the potential to be anything in life. I encouraged her to find who she was, and to learn to love herself because she was beautifully and specially made by God!! She hugged me tight and cried. She made a commitment to work the program so she could come back home to the AWFC. Well, my sweet “Sara” had many, many struggles along her journey in this life. She was moved from foster home to psychiatric hospital to RTC to relative placement to RTC to psychiatric hospital to foster home to psychiatric hospital to RTC to juvenile to RTC. Throughout her multiple placements I never lost contact with her. It took years for things to finally sink in with “Sara” At the end of last year we had a good talk and she really talked like she had changed and learned positive skills over her journey. She cried and asked me to pray with her and I did. We talked about God and His plans for her life. It was a very different, positive, genuine, conversation unlike conversations in the past. It touches my heart deeply because she currently calls me. We maintain frequent contact and she appears to look to me for support. I pray “Sara” does her best to be successful, remember she's never alone, ‘cause I am a phone call away. “Sara” holds a special place in my heart and I treat her like she is my own. She has thanked me multiple times for being there for her, treating her right, being honest with her, loving her, and never giving up on her. I told her that I would be there for her no matter what. She recently turned 16 and is maturing and re-evaluating her life and the mistakes she has made. She is currently awaiting a foster home placement from the RTC and I pray her CPS caseworker finds a good home. I let her know from the 1 st day I met her that I am a keeper for life and will always be there. I am very proud of who she is working to become. I truly thank God for “Sara” because she has taught me a lot in this field by giving me the experience of working closely with traumatized children, forming significant attachments, and giving me a better understanding of how to help love the hurt and broken children back to life. There is healing in what I do and I thank God - I Love My Job!!!
Meet our fabulous Valdez family from Brownwood. They are an awe‐ some family for kids who are in care as well as aŌer they age out. They have helped teens get most of all their independent living skills met before leaving care like driver’s license, vehicle, take them to college and get them set up, and be a place for them to always return home for holidays or even a pick‐me‐up from Ɵme to Ɵme. They do so much, including having kids be involved in community acƟviƟes from liƩle league all the way up through school acƟviƟes. They are awesome in helping kids get involved in youth fairs and teaching them about ani‐ mals and commitment to something other than themselves. This family is a wonderful picture of what foster care is for many children.
TEEN Success Three of our Youth were awarded Lap Top Computers from the PAL program. Joslin Benavidez (18), Al‐ exandra Rivas (18) and Beatrice Litofsky (19). These Youth are also geƫng ready to go to Dallas in the month of November for a PAL conference. Alexandra purchased a used car!!! So what that she doesn’t have her license yet!!! That’s next on her list. This girl has goals and she’s going to reach them. She was able to purchase the car with money that she saved from working at Wal Mart. It’s as easy as Pie!!! Just ask Beatrice Litofsky (19) who called and asked Foster Grandma, Noelia Pena, if she could teach her how to make pies this past Thanksgiving. Everyone knows Mrs. Pena is one of the best bakers this side of the Rio Grande. Mrs. Pena took the Ɵme to show Beatrice how to make her delicious homemade pies. Guess What?!?! They turned out delicious. What a great family tradiƟon Be- atrice will be able to share with her own family each Thanksgiving.
families know how to have fundraising. One of the biggest special’ as the majority of the aƩendees were of Corpus
a good Ɵme while
night which made it ‘extra
The Corpus ChrisƟ staff, volunteers and families know how to have a good Ɵme while fundraising. One of the big‐ gest annual venues is “El Dia de los Muertos”; which is a Mexican tradiƟon that honors our ancestors. This year it fell on Halloween night which made it ‘extra special’ as the majority of the aƩendees were parading the streets of Corpus in their most creaƟve aƫre. The staff along with volunteers worked from dawn to the wee hours to sell delicious smoked turkey legs and foot long sausage. Goblins of all ages devoured the legs and sausages and licked their fingers in appreciaƟon. Tina Saenz, Area Director said, “Wow, every year this venue is a bigger and bigger success and they have always invited us to sell turkey legs; this was wonderful! We can’t wait Ɵll next year.”
Dallas parents have always been an acƟve and vital part of the treatment team for the children placed in their homes. We have seen some amazing work done to help children succeed in their foster homes and provide creaƟve intervenƟons to support our families. Recently, a family who was struggling with one of their teen sons shared with Jen Steenbergen, Clinical Director for the Dallas and Tyler offices, their strug‐ gles and their hope for addiƟonal strategies. Jen invited the family to parƟcipate in a staffing of their son with our consulƟng psychologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Nueche and Dr. Kemp, respecƟvely. Our “Docs” were very excited to have a foster parent join us to discuss strategies to work with a difficult, yet super, young man. They were able to share with the Drs. what has worked, and what hasn’t in a very meaningful way. It is not always that the consulƟng Drs. have the opportunity to talk with the foster parents face to face about children, but this was a great opportunity to do more for this young man and the family. In addiƟon to families being present at Doctor Staffing's, the Dallas office has launched into the newest technology of bringing Tele‐Medicine to our repertoire of services. Tele‐medicine is not new for some AWFC offices, but for Dallas, we began scheduling our first children and families to see child psychiatrist, Dr. Sergeant. Although Dallas has a number of Child Psychiatrists who are able to see our children, chil‐ dren and families who see Dr. Sergeant are able to have comprehensive assessments, the support of AWFC staff, and conƟnual support aŌer the appointment. Dr. Sergeant and his staff have been very ac‐ commodaƟng to our needs for the Dallas children and families. We look forward to serving more and more children in this way, bringing quality services to our children, providing concrete support for our families, and service that is unbeatable.
In addiƟon, Homebased Homecare is throwing a party for AWFC children ages 5‐10 years old. They are providing each girl with their very own American Girl Doll and each boy with a Star Wars Robot! They are buying ouƞits for the girls to match their dolls and there will be real life Storm Tro o pers at the party to celebrate! This party is to be held on December 16 th just down the road from the AWFC Dallas office at the office of Homebased Homecare. AWFC has had a great relaƟonship with the company for years as it is a part of the Encom‐ pass Health Care System which is an acƟve part of our Primary Medical Needs conference each year.
ISN makes another Christmas a liƩle brighter and a lot merrier for Dallas and Tyler A World for Children families. This year we started an employee giving drive at Christmas to raise funds for AWFC programs throughout the year. The ISN employees are ex‐ tremely generous and we were able to raise close to $50,000 in a donaƟon match from ISN, which means ISN employees donated at least $25,000 in toys and cash donaƟons, collecƟvely. The person behind this is Traci AvereƩ. She is the Controller for ISN and works hard every year to ensure that each child is sponsored and that the children receive just what they wished for. ISN employees go above and be‐ yond to make Christmas a really special Ɵme of the year for our children.
By now, word of the Federal InjuncƟon has spread throughout the Texas foster care world, but for many it is hard to the see the real world impact this injuncƟon and the Department’s interpretaƟon of it will have. While the injuncƟon was intended to prevent children from being harmed, in many instances it has done exactly the opposite. Within AWFC in Region 7, only three homes were impacted by this decision, however, those three homes lost a total of 19 vacancies. While the quanƟty of lost vacancies may not seem like much, the quality of care these three homes provide cannot be measured, especially when considering they all work with some of the most difficult-to-place populaƟons. Derrell and Mary Moore have been fostering with A World for Children since the agency’s incepƟon in 1997. They’ve worked with various populaƟons over Ɵme, but found their calling working with Primary Medical Needs children and youth. There are no words to describe how amazing this family is. All of the children come to the Moore home with numerous medical diagnoses, some of which are even terminal, and they come from all over the state of Texas. Regardless of their needs, every child is met with the same love and care. The Moores pride themselves on the quality of medical care they are able to provide for the children and youth in the home. In several instances, children in their home have not only survived long past doctors’ iniƟal predicƟons, but have thrived in their home. They have seen progress in children who were given no hope. Due to the recent ruling, the Moores will have to turn away six children. While this may not sound like much, you have to consider where those children will have to go….are they going to have to stay in a hospital? Will they be placed in a home where their medical needs won’t be met? Will they be shuffled from home to home, hospital to hospital, while the Moores sit with their home and their hearts only half full? It is oŌen difficult to find foster parents capable of working with children with mental retardaƟon, AuƟsm, and other signifi- cant developmental delays, but Diane and Terry Burton are an amazing excepƟon. Not only have they been fostering for over 40 years and have worked with more children than many of us could even imagine, they have worked with some very difficult children. In addiƟon to difficult behaviors, Diane is fluent in sign language and is able to work with children with hearing impairments and/or development delays that impact their speech. But their work doesn’t stop when the children leave the Burton home…any child who has ever been a part of the Burton family is a part of the family for life. They conƟn- ue to keep in contact and provide support no maƩer how old the children get or how far away they move. They have also grown their family through adopƟon, including the adopƟon of a woman in her 40’s, proving everyone needs a family, no maƩer what their age. The Burtons thrive on providing care for sibling groups and children with special needs, but this is now another home who will have to turn away children. Homes who are willing to work with large sibling groups and teens are oŌen few and far between; however, Brandi and Chad Hawkins are one of the few families willing to do just that. The reason they became a group home is to work with sib- ling groups, including teenagers. Over the years, they have adopted several children, and now due to the injuncƟon, they only have space for two foster children. So while their home and their hearts are open to large siblings groups of three, four, or even more children, they will be unable to provide them homes together.
Foster parents who are willing to open their homes to a young person who needs to express their trauma through behaviors that are not what we consider “normal”, are unique and special people. They have a heart for the “broken” that goes beyond the superficial. Many of us will pray for a child, buy a backpack or a bike for a child, but few will say, “Come live with me no maƩer how angry, depressed, or aggressive you feel and I will love you through all of that in an aƩempt to give you hope and a place to heal.” These types of parents are rare and beauƟ- ful giŌs to a child. Parents such as these are the type that conƟnue to be foster parents for years and they have the ability to recognize the on-going need for homes and beds and they absolutely hate to turn a child in need away. These parents make room for more when they can, by adding bedrooms to make more “home” for another pre- cious child. This is the birthplace of group homes, in the hearts and minds of couples who want to help more chil- dren. Our group homes in East Texas have made it possible for sibling groups to stay together because of the higher number of space and availability. Without homes larger enough to accommodate large numbers of children, I fore- see many siblings being placed apart and possibly far apart from each other. I have one home with three sibling pairs—four, including the siblings they adopted. It is unfortunate that these homes will no longer be able to flour- ish as they once did due to the new Federal injuncƟon banning group homes. Regardless, those parents who evolved into having a group home developed into tenured and experienced parents, and have been well-trained over the years that it took them to “grow” into the amazing parents they are today.
In January, 2016, Zak Farquer walked across his high
school stage to accept his diploma. Though this is an achievement for any young adult, it was especially exciƟng for Zak. AŌer being paralyzed in a tragic accident years ago, many wondered if Zak would reach this milestone but his resilient nature wouldn't allow for anything short of success. Despite having to miss school for countless doctors’ appointments and unexpected hospital stays he sƟll managed to pass his classes and graduate in December of the 2015-2016 school year. It was truly an exciƟng day for everyone who knows Zak, and the audience was filled with some of his biological family, foster family, several of his nursing team, and staff from AWFC. We are all so excited to see what the future holds for Zak because
AWFC Round Rock parƟcipated in the Amplify AusƟn Day!! This is the AusƟn area’s annu‐ al community‐wide day of online giving. Last year, over $7.7 million was raised during this event for local non‐ profits!!! The hope was to boost that number to over $9 million and we
without a doubt we know he will do amazing things. Zak hopes to enroll in community col- lege and pursue a degree in Theology.
Kim Garcia, Case Manager, took our teens to tour McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. There they learned about the different degrees offered,
wanted to be a part of that!! We hoped to raise $40,000…this would provide jump‐start clothing, back‐to‐school clothing and supplies, and Christmas giŌs to all of our children currently in care. The 24 hour period of giving started March 8 at 6 pm and conƟnued unƟl March 9 at 6 pm, however donors could start scheduling donaƟons early!!! Visit www.amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/AWorldForChildren/ overview for more informaƟon about the event. Don’t forget to check our new AWFC Round Rock Facebook page for more info about Amplify AusƟn and all the events going on in Region 7!
healthy relaƟonships, and internet safety. Also, they
enjoyed learning about Greek life on campuses and parƟcipat‐ ed in a Poetry Slam.
Regarding the One Child Plan, AWFC was instrumental in the collaborative efforts with the Department in Regions 2 & 9 to pilot the One Child Plan that is beginning to roll out in other regions. Because of our involvement in the development of that plan in Regions 2 and 9, Region 8 has asked for AWFC to step into a leadership role to help them get their One Child Plan off the ground. Monday, January 25 th we trained CPA and Department Staff at our San Antonio office regarding the protocol, benefits and challenges of the One Child Plan, Region 8. Christine Roberts, AWFC San Antonio Regional Director, has stepped up and jumped into the collabora- tive efforts in her region and will be providing the training in Victoria. According to Lori St. Ama, “ I feel so fortunate to be working along side the brightest professionals in our field. Our Clinical team at AWFC is always looking for the latest and best in treatment and education for our staff and foster parents We are seeking daily to better understand what our children need from us to overcome unbearable grief and loss and what they need from us to grow into resilient young adults with a chance for a promising tomorrow.”
Recently one of our foster parents was extremely impressed with the work her child’s CPS worker is doing. The family was so impressed , they nominated Rita Richardson (in the Dallas area) for “Outstanding Social Worker Award”. US Adopt was so impressed with the nomination that they ran a story on Rita in their newsletter. Our foster parent wrote: “ Rita truly cares about the children placed in our home and is working hard to ensure that their needs are met and their futures are considered…My hus- band and I are so thankful for her. She is a true gem.” To read the article go to > hƩp://adoptuskids.org/news -and-announcements/caseworker-of-the-month/story?