Summer was busy in our World. As a family we gathered the 4th Saturday in June to dance, giggle and have a fun day at Fiesta Texas—all 1400 of us! ———————————————————————————————————— Next our staff and all our teens gathered in Brownwood, TX to parƟcipate in Launch Camp for 4 days. What an event with learning acƟviƟes, team building acƟviƟes and lots of just plain fun. Truly this is a grand event! ———————————————————————————————————— CelebraƟng back to school—AWFC makes school a high priority! Each child receives $100 for special back to school clothes, plus a new bag of school supplies. Our Foster Families take care of the addiƟonal clothing and school fees etc. Their reimbursement must really stretch at the beginning of the year! 100% of AWFC Seniors graduated from high school—for the 2nd year in a row! This is quite an accomplishment with the naƟonal average currently at 40% of foster teens graduaƟng. A big salute goes to the students who worked hard to accomplish this outstanding feat—and the foster parents who encouraged them every step of the way! And the World Turns at AWFC
Christmas is such a special Ɵme of year. Our World really works to provide a fabulous celebraƟon complete with fulfilling Santa wishes for our children. A big thanks goes to our communiƟes for helping Santa gather the “wishes”. If you would like to parƟcipate, contact AWFC at 512‐218‐4400.
December 7: McAllen/Brownsville December 9: San Antonio/Victoria December 10: Round Rock
December 1: Brownwood December 2: Wichita Falls December 2: Dallas December 3: Tyler December 5: Houston December 6: Corpus ChrisƟ
December 11: Amarillo December 12: El Paso December 14: Staff
A to our àÜ|uâàx UÜxÇwt YÉzÄx
AŌer a five year baƩle with cancer, our Brenda, AWFC Financial Director, was met by a special angel to return her to Jesus. Truly she was a saint in her work of 16 years with
AWFC. No words can describe all the “above and beyond” work she did. Never was there a project that Brenda was not in the middle of. Her handprints fill our walls and our hearts. Her dedicaƟon, strength , loyalty, commitment and posiƟve spirit are an important part of the foundaƟon of our world. Many Ɵmes Paul Willis, AWFC President, commented that Brenda has always been his right hand—she was masterful in her duƟes and an inspiraƟon to all. At Launch Camp, Brenda was both the glue and the oil that kept everything moving. When Ashleigh, the Camp Director, asked for an item, Brenda always was at her elbow ensuring every item was available. She loved our teens and was instrumental in ensuring our Camp was over the top. In addiƟon to being a hard worker and totally professional, she was always ready to join in our fun. Our San Antonio office had a Foster Parent AppreciaƟon Luncheon with a “movie star theme.” Brenda and Sharon Willis hopped in a red t‐bird converƟble as Thelma and Louise and drove to San Antonio to join in the party. AŌer a bit of a disaster with a husband’s prized cowboy hat, they discussed making a run for the border in the true Thelma and Louise spirit—Brenda was always ready for an adventure! With the first onset of the cancer the staff, led by Ronda Harth,
put on a “Believe” campaign complete with pink t‐shirts sporƟng a “Believing for Brenda” message. Staff and foster parents as well as family and friends bought t‐shirts and struƩed this message. Prayer was made and healing was claimed. Brenda conquered this dreaded disease for 5 years. Then it came back—She again launched a valiant fight. However this Ɵme Jesus opened His arms and beckoned her home. Brenda took a part of our hearts with her—her impact on our World and our children will last throughout eternity. We know she is busy geƫng Heaven ready for her family including our World to follow. She will be at the gate to welcome each child who loses his life due to abuse. She will hold them, wipe their tears and introduce them to Jesus. Each child will experience the love and nurturing they missed on earth. Brenda will conƟnue her mission…..she will greet each of us as God calls us home.
There are always a lot of things going on in the State regarding child welfare but the last few months have been especially evenƞul, with the closing of the 85 th LegislaƟve Session. There were more bills affecƟng child welfare than most recent legislaƟve sessions and I wanted to give you a brief overview of two of them that could impact you: Senate Bill 1 gave funding to three new catchment areas for Foster Care Redesign, which they are now calling Community Based Foster Care, as well as a well‐deserved increase for foster parents. We are thrilled that you have received a rate increase, as of September 1. It, of course, can never be enough but we are glad that the hard work you do has been acknowledged. You should have received a leƩer from me last month, outlining the new rates. Senate Bill 11 focused on requirements for Community Based What is going on in Foster Care?
Care, as well as expectaƟons for providers having certain performance measures. The impact of the performance measures on you will be discussed below. The plan for Community Based Care (what we have been referring to as “Redesign” for the past few years) will conƟnue, at least for the foreseeable future and will expand in the duƟes of the Single Source ConƟnuum Contractor. Many of CPS’ case management duƟes will also be covered under this contract. The details of how this will roll out in pracƟce are unknown at this Ɵme. The first bid for Region 2 (Brownwood/Wichita Falls area) is due in January. Once a contractor is selected and begins, more informaƟon will be forthcoming. Funding for three more catchment areas was approved (two more requests for proposals will be released in 2018). One other maƩer to note is that a porƟon of ResidenƟal Child Care Licensing will remain with DFPS and another porƟon will go to HHSC. The only way that this should affect you is that the badges may say HHSC, instead of DFPS; addiƟonally, there is a potenƟal that there could be some confusion in the beginning, which could result in providing the same informaƟon to two different enƟƟes. Other Areas of Note: Community Based Care: As stated, there is a current bidding process in Region 2 for a Single Source ConƟnuum Contractor and we expect two more regions to be announced next year. We will keep you apprised of new informaƟon as it comes available. Please know that we will conƟnue to be here to serve you and will do all in our power to shelter you from any negaƟve impact. Single Plan of AcƟon: By now, I am sure each of you has parƟcipated in the Single Plan of AcƟon treatment plan for one of the kiddos in your home. The hope is that all of the parƟes that have a voice in the child’s life will be able to meet and agree on a plan or, at the very least, be aware of what the plan will be for the child. As with anything new, it will take some Ɵme to work out kinks but we are appreciaƟve for, and support, any tool that allows for more communicaƟon and direcƟon in a child’s plan.
Contracts and Performance Measures: We have been to a number of meeƟngs regarding contracts and the transformaƟon plan, complete with four pillars of plans for acƟon they have come up with to aƩempt to provide beƩer outcomes for children. Without going into too great of detail, I’ll briefly tell you about the pillars because it may help to explain some requirements you are seeing from your case managers and managers. The four pillars are performance measures, risk assessment, predicƟve analyƟcs and monitoring. Performance measures: As an agency, and in turn, you, as the agency’s foster parents are going to be “graded” on certain measures. The percentages are then going to show up on a scorecard next year. Every agency’s percentages will show up on the DFPS website. It is important that our percentages are high because that is all those unfamiliar with the system and children’s overall wellbeing will be able to use to see how we are doing. This will determine which agencies those in the outside world, including potenƟal new foster families, see as “successful” and “unsuccessful.” There are a few areas that you need to make sure you are geƫng documentaƟon in as Ɵmely as possible – CANS assessments, physical appointments and dental appointments. AddiƟonally, if you have a teen, please make sure you are coordinaƟng to get them into PALS. There are other measures that we work on daily, like successful discharges, but the ones just menƟoned are those that we need you to really help with, paperwork‐ wise. You now know why the case managers are breathing down your neck regarding geƫng in the paper from the doctor/denƟst/CANS assessor. We have to have all of this informaƟon into the State and are graded on it. We want to shoot for 100% !! Risk Assessment/PredicƟve AnalyƟcs: Though these are two separate pillars, they go together in that there is a program assessing the risk of the agency, foster family, office, and child. Behind the scenes, the machine spits out certain percentages, and if Contracts deems a certain placement as risky, based solely on these numbers, they will monitor that child/family’s file. Again, nothing to worry about, but if you or your child are interviewed by contracts or required to provide informaƟon, I wanted you to know it’s not you, it’s a program. Monitoring: Most of our monitoring was done through RCCL in the past, but now Contracts is going to be more involved. Again, you may just go about your business but we will be concentraƟng on training deadlines and the performance measure requirements. Also, again, you may be called on to give feedback to a monitor. Recently, we had our annual audit by Contracts and did amazingly well!! I was so very proud of our staff and foster parents. The auditors had to REALLY SEARCH to find anything that wasn’t done exactly correctly and the Ɵny things found were just that – TINY! Thank you for not only taking amazing care of our children but also following the umpteen deadlines and geƫng all of the documents in! You guys are truly remarkable!!! Licensing: The requirements from RCCL conƟnue to be numerous and detailed. We will do all that we can to help you and your family to remain compliant. As stated above, there are now two enƟƟes involved, so there could be a few growing pains in this arena unƟl everyone figures out their lane. I know that if you have stuck with me through this arƟcle this long, your eyes are bleeding a liƩle. This is A LOT of informaƟon and probably more detail than you ever wanted to know. However, I think it is imperaƟve that you stay informed, as this affects your life. AddiƟonally, I want you to understand the “why” behind requests from AWFC Staff. If you should ever have any quesƟons, feel free to reach out to me! My email is email@example.com . Love you guys and thank you for all you are doing for our sweet children! Ashleigh Wilkes, ExecuƟve Director
around “Our World”
“You beƩer look out, you beƩer keep an eye, because I’m tellin you why – you never know when roadkilllllllll could be on your Ɵre!!!!!!” This is just a small porƟon of the new holiday song I made up this weekend, aŌer tragically hiƫng a squirrel. RIP, Scruffy (yeah, I named him – funny things happen when you spend many hours in a car alone). But, I must say, Scruffy gave his life for a higher cause— THE BEST DARN CHRISTMAS PARTIES IN ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL OF TEXAS ! We got to go to four different parƟes this weekend and though they were as different as could be, each was fantabulous in its own way!
First, we “ Shreked the Halls ” in Brownwood and YOU GUYS, they had the cutest decoraƟons. There were about one million stand up characters (baby Shrek picking his nose was my fave); they had a tree that was a fireplace – I mean, can you even?! They had a swamp shed; Judy, one of our amazing case managers donated costumes, so we had Donkey, Fiona and Shrek. How awesome is that?! And, some of the kiddos were dressed up. There was the cutest gingerbread girl in the enƟre universe there!!! The party was over the top fantasƟc, in the usual Brownwood style! And, I have to menƟon a 7‐year
old. He approached one of our staff and asked if Santa was coming. She said that he was and he asked if Santa would bring him anything. She said, “of course!” He asked, “are you sure because he’s never brought me anything before?” You guys – Mic. Drop. That, right there, is why we do what we
do. These parƟes, these parents, you, as staff, Santa, volunteers, donors, make Christmas magical, make memories, make life magical for kids. If that was the only story we got, it would be totally worth all 12 parƟes. But, guess what?! There are dozens of stories just like that one. THANK YOU FOR MAKING MAGIC!
Early Saturday I got back in my sleigh or squirrel killer, however you want to look at it. As you can see, Scruffy really did a number on me….. Anyway, off to Wichita Falls I went, where I was greeted at the door by Lucy, Charlie and Snoopy himself. They were as cute as could be!! Inside, it was all decked out in Peanuts décor. And, the Elks Lodge pulled it off again – food, food, and food ! Yummiest macaroni this side of the Mississippi! Everyone was fesƟve and adorable. Watching a liƩle girl get a bike took the cake at this party, though. She was so thrilled The Wichita staff and families are just so incredibly warm. It was amazing to talk with them and the kiddos.
With admiƩedly a liƩle more mac and cheese than wholly necessary, we popped back into the car to shoot down the road to Dallas . You see some things between Wichita Falls and Dallas. A Starbucks is not one of them. We entered a magical space of Around the World Christmas – there were all naƟonaliƟes of Santas! We had the Eiffel Tower, the Red Square straight out of Moscow, palm trees from a beach, Santa with a sombrero. I mean, we went allllll around the world and it couldn’t have been cuter! But, let’s talk about the food. Because, you know us, it’s going to eventually come back to the food. It was awesome! One of the foster parents made Jewish fare, another made Baklava, another tamales (and they were soooooooooo good), there were several other treats from around the world that I can’t name but they were delish. And, if you didn’t get full from that, there was Babe’s Chicken. My belly was FULL! Such yummy treats and a great all around party!
We slept quick and then got ready to go out to Tyler . First, the venue was neat – it was at the Cowboy Church, which included a rodeo arena. No, the party wasn’t in the arena (bummer) but it was really neat to see that in a church. The families in Tyler are just wonderful, good ol’ East Texas people. They are a pleasure to chat with and see. The Around The World Theme followed us to Tyler and it was just as adorable there! The food again was magical but this Ɵme it was made even sweeter with foster parent homemade desserts. Get it? Sweeter. Yeah, I crack myself up. ;) Thank you to all of the staff that worked your fingers to the bone to make these parƟes such a fantasƟc success!! They were truly magical and amazing. So many children got to celebrate Christmas for the first Ɵme ever and did it in grand style because of your efforts! I am so very proud to be part of your world!
With the sleigh loaded down with giŌs and the elves, we flew to Houston . A gorgeous church, St. John the Divine Episcopal Church allowed us to celebrate Jesus’s birth in their locaƟon. The children had the perfect party order—dessert first. They began the evening with decoraƟng gingerbread cookies . So adorable and so yummy. AŌer an a delicious dinner, Santa came and with the help of his elves, passed out a large sleigh full of presents—such a delighƞul evening.
Jump back on our sleigh, we followed Santa to Corpus ChrisƟ . The Elks Lodge of Corpus hosted the party in Corpus. My goodness, what a smashing success. We all filled our tummies with delicious food gathering all our strength for Santa. He didn’t disappoint. Between the
Elks, the community and Santa, our children were dancing with delight with all their presents. If that wasn’t enough, the Elks elves brought another batch of giŌs which children’s names were drawn for more goodies. A four foot Dark Vader appeared bringing squeals of delight from one luck child. Not to be outdone, another four foot character from Star Wars dressed all in white struƩed into the arms of another child. The addiƟonal “prizes” did not stop and many other squeals of delight brighten the room of excited happy children. The Elks, community and AWFC staff were amazing in making the evening a success.
AŌer a quick sleep and a trip further south to McAllen , our “AWFC Valley” family gathered for an evening of magical proporƟons. Whatever the theme, the Valley team and community create a grand evening. Watching the children and families in their regal aƫre is a treat all in itself. Combining that with a Polar Express theme and the Polar Express train created an evening of wonder. In addiƟon to all the giŌs for the children, the staff gatherED great door prizes for the family. One foster dad was seen pushing out a giant grill. The kids were just a excited because “bar‐b‐que “ would be on the menu for the next night. Papa Bear is a bit spoiled—what ever the menu, the staff bring him all the tamales he can eat. The staff always treats him “special”. Speaking of special—that evening God blessed us with a true winter wonderland—snow in the Valley!
The reindeer are geƫng a bit weary in their well doing. Their next desƟnaƟon was San Antonio at the T Bar Ranch—with an Under The Sea theme we all enjoyed a unique Christmas. Loved all the mermaids, submarines photo ops and gorgeous fish—truly an ocean wonderland. IBC Bank employees not only donated most of the giŌs, they showed up at 6:30 a.m.—yes AM—to assist our staff in creaƟng this under water Christmas wonderland. One liƩle girl kept following Paul around and liŌing her arms—he was perplexed– then the foster dad cleared up the mystery — “She thinks you are Santa”. The liƩle girl got a big hug and the promise of anything she wanted for Christmas!
Having carrots ready for the reindeer as they make their final approach in Round Rock , the Grinch and all the AusƟn area children and families eagerly awaited the landing. With the Georgetown Community Center filled with our AWFC families, WhoVille really came to life. Full tummies and happy hearts greeted Santa with great enthusiasm. The adorable WhoVille “ciƟzens” took sacks of giŌs to all the children. The community really came through is gathering all the specific wishes of the children. By now, the reindeers and Ashleigh, Paul and Sharon are having a bad case of “tongue hanging out”! However upon entering Amarillo's “ Christmas Morning ” we were revived! What a fun theme— everyone was dressed in their PJ’s and eaƟng yummy breakfast food complete with pancakes and cinnamon rolls. With all that delicious sugar, we were all hyped up awaiƟng Santa and his sleigh of giŌs. Shiny smiles and dancing eyes eagerly awaited the elves to bring them their presents from Santa. We did not see a disappointed face in the house. Smiles and happy laughter were the mood of the evening. Finally the last party nears. Just one more Rudolph—we are almost done. Blitzen—leave some of those carrots for the other reindeer. As the group make their final landing in El Paso , the children and families are eagerly awaiƟng . With a giant party at a special place created just for children, Santa makes his grand entrance with piles of giŌs for each of the youngsters. We were all filling up on homemade tamales (compliments of one of our foster parents). Then lo and behold the elves began passing out presents! Many of the community helpers aƩended the party and saw the delighted faces of our kiddos as they unwrapped the magic of Christmas. Fun was had by all!
And Santa and his eight (fat) reindeers rode out of sight with a Merry Christmas to all ….and to all a Good Night !
Christmas Donors, Sponsors and Support!
San Antonio In‐N‐Out Burger FoundaƟon Coca‐Cola IBC Bank Lutheran High School of San Antonio James Avery Jewelry Wal‐Mart, Inc
Elks Lodge Nacols Jewelry Sealed Air First United Methodist Church Angel Wings Faith BapƟst Early Morning Sunday School Class Wichita County Tax Assessors Office There were several individual donaƟons and too many to lilst individually! We appreciate each and everyone of them!
Jordan Ford H‐E‐B Stores Hoop Jargon Sports Talk MaƩhew Rideaux
McAllen & Brownsville Affordable Homes Mission ISD Grande Produce Home Depot Racetech motorsports Carlos Masso, running for Judge of 197 district court (Brownsville, TX) Miracle Mile Bingo Donna Medical Clinic Dr. Jose F. Peña Dairy Queen Pablo Guajardo and Yolanda Amezcua, AWFC foster parents Jose&Tamara Gervacio, AWFC foster parents Cantu’s Pharmacy Eddie Cantu, Precinct 2 Commissioner
Aliya Hassan Corey BarreƩ Simon Mann Nathaniel Gill ChrisƟan Gee Sergio Trujillo
Marlene Carlyle Laura Rothbauer Erica Broll Dayne Grahmann Beckie Gomez Margaret Duffy‐Hammonds
Belinda DeLeon Sharron Aguilar Rae Longoria JD and Jennifer Castro Clarissa Zamora
Mandy Villarreal and Family James and Suzanne Sands Cody and Dana Henderson & Friends
Victoria Olga Mont ya Nixon Smiley School District Krystle Keller & Friends Ericka Hamman Amy Montes AWANA First BapƟst Group Angela Stancik Jazlyn Villanueva Heritage Mark Bank employees LisseƩe Rodriguez
RadiaƟon DetecƟon CO. Jason Koneman Torrie Rainwater Pat Richardson Collision Express Linda Hyslop Round Rock
Dr. Rivera at Rivera OrthodonƟcs & Staff Dr. Kimball at TPACS Chris Holder, Debra Valverde, Rebecca Esparza & Staff at GymnasƟcs Elite Sarah Chacon at El Dorado High School AVID Nichole Villalobos at CBS Channel 4 Erica Balderrama at UTEP SW Department and especially her family Brenda Dawkins at Newsbank Tyrah White Kaawa family CFA Cheer (FURY Cheer Force AthleƟcs, FIERCE Cheer Force AthleƟcs, FUSION Cheer Force AthleƟcs) Pebble Hills Volleyball Pebble Hills Basketball – Lisa Sander, ChrisƟe Miller, and Esther Melendez Visitors Chapel AME Church Foster mother Angela Powell gathered all of the donors below:
Maria Clark Aliana Peska Jean White Katherine White
Jersey Mike’s Judith Lucas Jan Moden
Skip Francisco David Wright Christ Lutheran QuilƟng Karen Faught Jim Leek Ventures Kathryn Boyer‐MinoƩo Williamson County Medical SS Class‐First BapƟst Kim Donna Elizabeth ToƩen Sarah McDaniel Heather Sanchez Heather Aldrich Terry Wooten Louis Seade The Oasis on Lake Travis
The Elks Lodge (Contact: Foster Parents Mr. and Mrs. Cofer) Dr. Charles Sargent M.D.P.A. Express Employment Professionals (Contact: Margot Villarreal) CLK Architects & Associates (Contact: NaneƩe Bullard) Stonebridge Behavioral Health—Kirk Coverstone Ph.d
Brownwood Jana Jackson “Signs and Designs” Early Longhorn Boys Varsity Basketball Team Kohler Company Employees Killa and DonneƩa Jackson’s Group Dazzling Divas Dr. Charles Sargent Dr. Richard Connell & Associates Tom Partridge Tiffany and Brandon McCall Blake Fulenwider AutomoƟve L Log Homes Central Texas Truck and Trailer Vaccaro Family (Angela OnƟveros) Nancy Billings Amy Mayhen classroom Big Country Ford House Vyron and Crystal Funderburk Amarillo Monetary DonaƟons : Amarillo NaƟonal Bank The Josephine Anderson Charitable Trust The Kimble FoundaƟon Trust The Dr. Kent Roberts and Ilene Roberts BallieƩ FoundaƟon The River Church in Panhandle, TX Amarillo Classical ConversaƟons Class Cory and Lindsay Schumacher The Holy Family Church in Nazareth, TX Amarillo College Student Nurses AssociaƟon Duane and Carol Drew Stacie Stubblefield
Berkshire Hathway Home Services Mosley Real Estate Bill and Trudi Lowry Aron ChrisƟan Brownwood Women’s Clinic Trans Texas Tire Senior Care in San Angelo Bangs Physical Therapy Mary Jo Antu
Lori St. Ama Firehouse Fences Nevin MarƟn
Randy and Deanna McCall Megan Gibbs Photography Roxanne Swearingen Taylor Gibbs Building and Design De Lana Smethers Elizabeth and Shawn Russell Stacie Freymiller (perry) John Boswell Wildfire Truck Sales Terry Mary Jane Loewenberg Shalee Sayamnet Haley Hendrickson Joan Gibson Aldersgate Enrichment Center Mendez Family Oceans Behavioral Hospital Abilene
Phillip and Shelia Smith David and Paula Nuhn Jean Heffner Jane Pitcox Cen Tex Body and Paint, INC Shirley Taber Andy’s Pest Troopers Lexi Stephens Paul and Ann Morales
Chuck and Jennifer Higley Donald and JNita Collins GiŌ DonaƟons : Terri Burke Chris Lyles Ashley Gonzales Dean and Leah Armstrong Heather Harmon
Michael and Carlee Crouch Elisha Oliver Troy and Andrea McConnell Karr and Elizabeth Ingham Tamara and Alexi Buecker Gilbert and Lily Curiel Joseph and Leigh Sexton Stephanie Wise Kyle and Treva McKinney BriƩany Fonseca
Michelle Terry Kelee Webster Richard and Pat Herring Holy Family Church in Nazareth, TX Jerry and Eppie Wyckoff Greg and Boycene McKinney Herb and Jan Sanders Mollie, Tim and Kim Peterson Evan and Ally Gonzalez Thomas and D’Arcy Roberts
Bryan and Nikki Morris Bryan’s Auto and Body Event Help : Ken Hanson and Trinity BapƟst Church Kim Waters Richard Herring and Kim Matsler Lori MarƟn and the District 1 Support Staff Team at Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
AWFC Makes Annual Trek To Fiesta Texas All 1500 had...
... fun, fun, fun!
Getting “the word” out about foster care needs.
Partnering in the Community With Elite Gymnastics
...blind teen goes to Hungary to compete
Frank (name change due to confidenƟality) is a 17 year old youth. He is legally blind and has been diagnosed with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis. Despite this, Frank is a very acƟve and independent youth. He aƩends Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in AusƟn, TX and has been aƩending since the fall of 2012. Frank is an athlete and during the school year parƟcipates in Wrestling, Track and Goal ball. This summer 2017, Frank got the opportunity to pracƟce with the Paralympic men’s U.S. goal ball team in Indiana and compete in a world wide goal ball compeƟƟon in Hungary represenƟng the United States. Frank’s team won the gold medal! In addiƟon to that Frank also went to New Jersey in August to a dog school, and he returned with his own guide dog. We are very proud of Frank and wish him the best this senior year.
AWFC partnered once again with Gymnastics Elite and participated in their 3K Glow Run raising close to $900!
Launch Camp 2017
Brownwood Gets new home in Early!
We would like to introduce our Case Manager in the San Angelo office. Yvonne Velazquez has one of the biggest hearts I know! She is passionate about what she does and is commiƩed to working for our children and families and being an acƟve part of the community. Yvonne is very hard working and doesn't scare easily. She is not new to case management and loves to do training. We are blessed to have her apart of our team! Here is a liƩle about Yvonne.... "I was born and raised in San Angelo, Texas and aƩended Angelo State University for my undergraduate years. I am currently compleƟng my social work masters degree through the University of Texas at
Arlington. I am a big fan of family, music, animals and people. My dream is to work in a community that is full of so many loving and healing foster families that we don't have enough children in the CPS system to place in their homes ‐ a community that will wrap around all of their kids and will do whatever it takes to ensure each child is safe, happy, and healthy. I chose to become a part of the team at A World for Children because of their commitment and drive to support and wrap services around their foster families and children. I am proud to be a part of such a hardworking and genuine team that has dedicated themselves to making a lasƟng impact in this world, one child at a Ɵme".
Signs & Designs is hosƟng a fundraiser for our Brownwood office! Proceeds from the sales of these cute, trendy shirts go directly to our kids!
By Kayla Linn, AWFC Case Manager Last month Michael and Rebecca Griffith adopted what they say will be their last adopƟve kiddos. These boys are half brothers and were originally placed with Rebecca’s mother, Peggy Hallum, another beauƟful soul that blessed our adopƟve parent world. Peggy was taken from us in 2014 and a promise was made by Rebecca and Michael that they would give both John and Jordan a forever, loving home. Jordan is now 4 and when he isn’t watching Paw Patrol; he is stuck to his dad’s side coloring in coloring books or out with him fishing. He is a very happy liƩle boy who has come a long way and enjoys his place as the baby in his new home. John is 8 and knows more than you and I COMBINED about dinosaurs. You can find him digging up bones in the backyard or on the playground, and not the county music kind, or being a master at his video games. His imaginaƟon is extraordinary! He too is happy to now and forever be a Griffith. The Griffith’s are dedicated to each and every one of their kiddos. They have adopted 6 and, while they say they are done adopƟng, the Griffiths are sƟll happy to have the availability to help out at least 2 foster kiddos and with this there isn’t an end in sight.
Adoption Day! Brownwood
The Early HS basketball team is hosƟng a shoot‐a‐thon on their campus this November. The proceeds will be split between the basketball team and AWFC. They’re also hosƟng a toy drive for our kids—so wonderful! Go Longhorns!
Nacol’s Jewelry in Wichita Falls is just one of many community supporters making a difference in the lives of AWFC children! They are selling balloons with awesome prizes—pieces from their own inventory! The funds raised from this endeavor will help cover the costs of our AWFC Christmas party and giŌs.
Samantha Taggart – I love working for AWFC. I have done this job at another CPA and it was a job and at AWFC I have joined a family where I am no longer doing a “job” but doing what I love, which is helping kids through finding great families! HAPPY 20 TH AWFC!!!! Thank you for helping me get my passion back! Jeff & Shannon Turnbo – We recommend AWFC to everyone who fosters. They are the best agency to work for because they support their families no maƩer when you call them and they are like extended family. April Mancilla – LeŌ DFPS several years ago because it was so hard to stay moƟvated to help the families and kids. AWFC supports the kids and families like they were their own. It is nice to have my passion and love of the job back. Stacy Chavez – AWFC is a great place to work. Employees and foster families are all part of your extended families.
Wichita Falls Wonderful things are happening!
Wichita Falls office has been growing by leaps and bounds this year. We have hired two new case managers in 2017! We are working daily trying to get new families to provide homes for the foster children in our area. We are truly blessed to have an amazing team of employees to work with an amazing group of foster families and children!
Jeff and Shannon Turnbo started fostering in 2013. Although their goal was not to adopt they did adopt and are conƟnuing to foster siblings. The Turnbos are not only foster parents for A World For Children , they are strong advocates for foster care. They are always promoƟng foster care to anyone who will listen. Shannon has made sure that every foster child from our Wichita Falls office has a brand new Christmas ouƞit to wear. She is currently working on geƫng new Christmas pajamas and giŌs for our kids. It is not just Shannon, it is the enƟre Turnbo family. They are using their family business as a place to make donaƟons for Christmas and other events. Their son is using his fraternity to help raise money and giŌs. The Turnbos not only foster, they raise awareness and they do it because they love kids and A World For Children.
Jeremy and Meagan Kirk have adopted Jordan. He has a had a long journey and no one knows what his life will hold for him in the future. He came into care for severe abuse and having brain damage. They have spent many days and nights in the hospital praying for Jordan’s future. Check out their blog to read more about their story— hƩps://meaganandjeremykirk.blogspot.com
Jay and Whitney MarƟschnig have adopted two liƩle ones. While fostering these two liƩle ones, Jay was aƩending school to become a Fireman and an EMT. CongratulaƟons Jay! Whitney has also been a liƩle busy working with special educaƟon children at school, and helping promote A World For Children with the Elks lodge, who has conƟnued to support our kids at Christmas!
McAllen Case Manager Corner
CM Name: Zuleyka Vargas
How long have you worked at AWFC? I started working at A World for Children on September 14, 2016. With that said, I have approximately, one year, and one month and half with the agency. What do like most about doing case management? Deciding what I like the most about doing case management with A World for Children is a difficult question for me to answer. I love my job; I love what I do, and I love coming to work everyday. I go by the motto: “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I believe that since I became a part of A World for Children, I never worked a day. I enjoy going out to the foster homes, meeting new interested families in fostering children, building a relationship with foster parents, along with their biological children and/or other family members, and most importantly, building a relationship with the children in care. It is such a heart-warming feeling to walk into a foster home and have children run up to you and give you a hug, jump up and down, or for babies, see a joyful smile! What changes do you think you are making in the life of abuse and neglected children? I have come at ease with the idea that I can not help/change/make a difference to the world. However, I can help/change/make a difference to the world of a child. By simply visiting with a child, with no harm, and no fast approaches, a child learns to trust; a child learns that there are people who love, and care for them. With appropriate approaches taken when a child is having a crisis, trying to understand what a child is trying to say, and allowing the child to express themselves in their own words, has an impact in their life. They slowly begin to understand how there is someone that is listening to them. What do enjoy about working with your foster parents? Being a foster parent can be challenging. From the start point, where attending trainings are required, to when you receive the very first child/ren in their home, it can take a big toll on the parent. But at the end, foster parents do it; they do it for the sake of the children; because they want to see the children grow into successful individuals. Foster parents demonstrate that eager to care for the children, provide love, and nurture and more than anything, help them cope with their trauma. I enjoy sharing that same compassion and purpose. How have you grown in your position in the time you have been with AWFC? I have grown in many different aspects as a case manager and most importantly, I have grown as an individual; my personality. I learned things about myself that before I did not acknowledge. I started to pay attention to the small things in life such as having clothing, or the ability to be simply be with my family. I have become more sensitive in the way things are approached, and have become understanding for the foster families and well as the foster children. What change would you like to create for other case managers in the agency to better improve your position and the work you hope to achieve with children? Speaking from the McAllen office perspective, we are not only co-workers…we have become a family. The office is welcoming, and allows an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. We work as a team, and support and guide each other in times of difficulty. I strongly believe that having a positive, supportive, and harmonizing workplace environment impacts the employee in many different positive aspects. What advice would you give other new case managers? There could be many different things that a new case manager could be told when first coming into A World for Children. At the end, it could become overwhelming. Hence, the one thing that I would advise a new case manager to do is to be patient. More than anything, simply be patient. You will get to make a difference, you will learn what the procedures are, you will learn how things run in the office, and more than anything you will get to where you want to be…but first, be patient.
Hurricane Harvey aƩacked the southeast Texas coast with a vengeance August 28 th . Now, over a month later, those devastated work to rebuild their lives. Friendswood, Texas was hit parƟcularly hard with massive flooding. You could barely make your way down streets due to the amount of debris that overflows from yards. Washers, dryers, refrigerators and furniture are heaped in piles in families front yards. The loss of old photos and personal mementoes that keep us connected to those we love and have loved is parƟcularly hard. Some people are living on the second floors of their home if they were lucky. Others have been forced to find other housing arrangements. Those that remain in their neighborhoods have the daily reminder when they look outside that they have lost close to everything. This is the story of so many, but also the story of AWFC foster parents Steve and Kathy Gundling. The Gundling’s have provided foster care for over 40 years (10 with AWFC). They have fostered therapeuƟc and primary medical needs children. They have also grown their family through adopƟon. It is with great compassion, over the past 40 years, that they have lived their lives caring for children in need. It is now that they need our compassion and care. AWFC Area Director, Barbara Baldwin has made several trips to Friendswood checking on the family and bringing the very basic supplies to them. Please keep this most wonderful family in your prayers and should you wish to make a donaƟon please contact Houston Area Director, Barbara Baldovin, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
UPDATE: Orphan Care SoluƟons, a collaboraƟve effort in Houston, heard about the Gundling’s dire situaƟon through AWFC AD, Barbara. In a true showing of #houstonstrong Orphan Care took their story to local philanthropist “MaƩress Mack” who owns a chain of furniture stores, Gallery Furniture. The Gundling family was chosen to receive $10,000 worth of free furniture from the store! MaƩress Mack is well known for his charitable efforts; going so far as to open up his stores to take in flood vicƟms, including pets, while conƟnuing to remain in operaƟon. He’s spent 20 years giving back and AWFC is blessed to have been the recipients of such generosity!
New Houston CM’s Bond! Houston: Change is in the Air!
The AWFC Houston staff has been working hard. These four ladies packed up an enƟre suite and moved to a new locaƟon on Labor Day. For such a great effort and working many early, late and
holiday hours during this Ɵme a day at the Houston Zoo seemed like a good idea. A great Ɵme was had and staff got to relax and take some much needed self‐care Ɵme.
New Houston Office LocaƟon!
Honoring The PaƩy Foster Family in Texarkana
By Gaye Beard, case manager of AWFC “ One of the true jewels in our World is the PaƩy foster family. Mrs. PaƩy’s bright smile and giant heart makes one know that her children are in the best home ever. Mr. PaƩy always shows up in his overalls and all pretense vanishes. His heart matches Mrs. PaƩy’s and the twinkle in his eye ensures children in his home are met with where they are and taken as far as they can go. Due to some health issues, they will be leaving foster care soon. “Mimi and Pop will be missed so much,” states Sharon Willis, Vice President of AWFC. Ben and Mary PaƩy have been with A World for Children just two short years, but began fostering over thirty years ago. The PaƩy household has served over 100 children in that Ɵme and both
parents feel blessed by the experiences. They have adopted one daughter, Haley, who has given them a grand‐ daughter, Izabella. Haley and Izabella currently live at home with the PaƩy’s and Haley is a big help with the foster children, so much so that she is seeking a career in the Special EducaƟon. The PaƩy’s have seven grand‐ children in total and like to be called “Mimi” and “Pop” by everyone. They currently have a 100% success rate with AWFC which speaks volumes of this home that serves Basic to Specialized, PMN, and MR children. Ben loves to fish and work in his garden, while Mary conƟnues to devote herself to raising children with a few soap operas thrown in from Ɵme to Ɵme.
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream ! On September 15 th , the SA team made a trip to visit the students of Lutheran High School. LHS, a private, ChrisƟan school prides itself on inspiring their students to become well‐rounded leaders who will help change their community and their World. A relaƟonship between LHS and AWFC began over 7 years ago when they first held a fundraiser in our honor. Every year
since then their students have banded together to raise money for our Christmas parƟes. Last year was their most successful one yet, having raised $725! We are extremely grateful to these students, and their staff, who are always willing to give back during a season we’re all so used to receiving. So our staff loaded up our car with some ice cream goodness and headed on over to the school for sweet aŌernoon break. AŌer a moving speech by SA Regional Director, Sarah Vasquez, in which the students were thanked endlessly for their efforts, our team lined up armed with boxes of ice cream and the real fun started! Students and teachers alike got in line to pick a treat (or two or three!) and not one person walked away without saying, Thank You. So sweet!
Say hello to the newest member of our World! The SA team bid a temporary adieu to Sarah Vasquez, Regional Director, who is taking Ɵme off aŌer giving birth to the most precious baby girl! We send nothing but love and good thoughts to the happy family!
The SA team celebrated two adopƟons by families who have each been fostering for nearly 10 years!
City By The Sea Corpus Christi:
There are many Heroes among us at A World for Children and I just wanted to take the Ɵme to show our deepest appreciaƟon for Dennis and Cynthia Jantz who for the past 13 years have dedicated their lives to serving primary medical needs children. These are children that require special medical procedures to survive and oŌen 24 hour care. Dennis and Cynthia are both LVNs and their hearts have always been about caring for these children. This has been intense work that does not allow much relaxaƟon Ɵme and oŌen means taking turns staying up to make sure the children are ok. In spite of all the demands Cynthia and Dennis have found saƟsfacƟon in serving and supporƟng the children and each other through all the trials of meeƟng the diverse medical needs of the children; not to menƟon the increased documentaƟon demands of their work. Cynthia said “That was Gods plan for us, the first part of the plan was for Dennis and I to come together. The second part was this calling, this is what God put in our hearts. We prayed about this for a few
years before we took the leap. Our family has grown exponenƟally. We are driven to teach our children to live by example; to love and be kind and accepƟng of all and that is something you don’t learn in school. Our kids see all of these kids with different shapes and colors and they are accepƟng and are one hundred percent in.” Dennis added, “it’s a calling based on love of the children.” They have experienced the loss of a child several Ɵmes due to medical condiƟon and short life expectancy; they have grieved as if it was their own child and yet they have conƟnued to open their home and hearts to serving other PMN children. They have done it with unyielding compassion and dedicaƟon. They have surrounded themselves with a group of caring nurses that they have chosen for their compassionate care. In that 13 years they have adopted 5 children and have served countless others. Their most recent adopƟon was on June 26 th when they adopted Jaith “Birdie” who , despite his many challenges, is a joy to raise and just be around him. Cynthia describes him as “ nothing but sunshine and love.” Cynthia added, “ all kids have potenƟal as long as someone steps forward and puts forth the effort to develop that in these babies.” How deep is your love of God’s children? We need more families to care for our children.
Our Victoria office conƟnues to grow in leaps and bounds! Our community has also stepped in to provide support for our mission and our children! The Heritage Mark building, which houses the Victoria office, recently exercised financial generosity to greatly benefit our World. We feel blessed to have companies
Answering the Call
in Amarillo 1
I began my social work career as an eager, pretenƟous, barely 22 year old ‐ newly hired as a case manager at A World For Children. I had a lot of book knowledge and liƩle real life experience, and absolutely no idea what I was geƫng myself into. I worked as a case manager for five and a half years. In that Ɵme I was emoƟonally wrecked and restored, professionally torn down and rebuilt, and I learned, learned, and learned some more. I moved into the Director posiƟon shortly before my son Charley was born. Charley is now almost 4. Over the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside some of the sweetest foster families and some of the most amazing foster children, watching the children and families together navigate the difficult waters of foster care. Kids struggled, and overcame. Families cried, and rejoiced. This is the hardest and yet most rewarding
career God could have led me in to. Some days I am grateful, and some days I quesƟon why God would have called me into such a place. I could have easily gone through my life naïve to the nasty stuff in our world. But, I remind myself quickly, that I’m needed and that when I feel inadequate or unprepared, God meets me there and supplies me with His strength. My husband and I dreamed of a large family. His favorite movie is “Dan in Real Life” and that’s what he wants his family to be like. A few months aŌer my son was born, I lost my vision. I remember being at work, thinking “I really can’t see out of my eye” and ignoring it for a few days, before my coworker urged me to go to the doctor. I was in and out of so many doctors’ offices within a week before becoming diagnosed with MulƟple Sclerosis. My life changed drasƟcally aŌer that. I recovered from that iniƟal relapse, went back to work, and went about my life as you do in those situaƟons. The dream of having a big family shaƩered for me but I focused on my one child, counƟng my blessings! Over the years, prior to my diagnosis, we would toss around the idea of foster care and foster to adopt. I never considered it seriously, though. There was too much risk, and far too many fears. The “What If’s” consumed my thoughts: What if it doesn’t work? What if I am not good enough of a parent? What if it causes our marriage too much stress, and we split up? What if a child harms my son? What if I become immobile or too sick? What if a child says something about me that isn’t true and I lose my career? What if… what if…. What if. I can talk myself into and out of anything. Before we knew it, foster care and adopƟon was off the table that fast. When clients would ask me, “are you going to foster?” my answer was quickly, “It would be too hard to foster AND do my job at the agency.” I always figured that if foster care was really what I should do, that I would end my job with A World for Children and become a stay‐at‐home mother so that I could foster with the agency I loved so much. In 2012, one of our families got a referral for a child who had been in an RTC placement for 18 months. She was originally from Amarillo and CPS was eager to get her back to the area so she could begin the reunificaƟon process with her biological mother. She was placed that evening with one of our tenured families, and happy to be back. I didn’t have a lot of interacƟon with her, because she was on my co‐workers caseload at the Ɵme, but I remember meeƟng her and thinking she was “spunky”. She lived with this family for two years before moving to Children’s Home which was more suited for her at that Ɵme of her life. Fast forward six months – I was reading through placement referrals one day and I saw her name pop up. I opened her informaƟon and read through her referral. It was rough. Her Ɵme at this placement was a train wreck in the least, and ended with her almost geƫng arrested. I knew that what I was reading in that paperwork was not a reflecƟon of who this child was.