Between Families – August 2022

Helping Your Kids With Holidays & Birthdays

As foster parents, it can sometimes be easy to understand why birthdays and holidays would be difficult for foster children. While these children are in a safe, stable environment for the holidays, many of their childhoods were not filled with gifts and celebration. Providing a positive, open environment this season can promote positive change for these youth that will last throughout their lives. It is also important to remember some foster children did experience positive holidays with their biological families and being a new house with new individuals can be intimidating and stressful.

Here are steps you can take to help children feel more comfortable this upcoming holiday season:

  1. Have a discussion with your child. Discuss the holidays with the youth and speak to them about past traditions they experienced and let them know about your family traditions. The more you get to know the youth and the more they learn about you, the more comfortable they will feel. Discuss your holiday plans with the child and ensure they feel comfortable. Also ask the child bout any of their past traditions (how many people attended their celebrations? Who from their family attended? What roles did each person play?). Add these traditions to your family traditions to make them feel accepted.
  2. Have a discussion with your family and friends. Let your friends/family know what to expect; if the child is feeling anxious for the upcoming holidays, let your family/friends know what to expect to help them be better equipped. For example, if relatives purchase gifts for biological children, provide ideas for presents for the foster child by letting them know what his or her interests and hobbies are.
  3. Help the child(ren) stay in touch with family members. If your child is spending the holidays away from parents or siblings, it can make the holiday season much worse. Ask the child who they would like contact with, even if it’s via phone/text, and if there are no safety restrictions allowing contact between the child and these family members, advocate on behalf of the child to ensure they happen. Allowing youth to stay in touch with relatives and friends from old schools or neighborhoods will allow the child to stay connected and know their friends/family are safe.
  4. If the child shows grief or sadness, don’t be upset. If the child shows these emotions, do not take it personal. It is normal for a foster child to feel emotions similar to these and he or she may even act out or have an increase of negative behaviors during the holiday season. Be patient and understanding with the child – this is likely how the child is coping with the loss of family/friends during the holiday season. You can help by being positive and understanding and keeping a line of open communication with the child. Providing a safe, healthy, and stable home for the child is one of the greatest gifts they will receive this holiday season!

Kansas Care Provider of the Month

Meet Joni Sells! She is an amazing foster parent. She has taken long-term placements and has taken a sibling set to ensure they stay together. On top of her long-term placements, she is always willing to provide respite when she is able to. When asked about whether she needs a break between placements, her response is, “The kids need me more than I need a break.” Joni has dealt with crisis situations in true TBRI fashion and always puts the children’s best interest before her own.  Joni makes sure that any child that enters her home has everything they need once they leave from clothing items, shoes, school supplies, toys, and plus.

Thank you, Joni, for all you do for your kiddos and the foster care community!

Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month

Linda Harris transferred to TFI in August 2020 to provide foster care services to children in need in Oklahoma. Since then she has been working diligently to provide a loving, nurturing, and wonderful home to two siblings who were placed in her home in September 2020. The children remained in her home for approximately two years, and they made great strides and excelled while in her care. During this time, Linda was dedicated to keeping the siblings together, and she also provided temporary care for the children’s younger siblings during this period. Linda is highly trained in early childhood, teaching and shaping of young minds, and assisting children who have experienced trauma. During Linda’s time as a foster parent, she has continuously strived to assist the children in excelling educationally, emotionally, and physically.

Linda also has a strong desire to assist children in maintaining ties to their heritage and African American culture, and she actively did so with the children in her care for the duration of their time in her home. Linda has stated on more than one occasion that she is devoted to helping children excel and meet their full potential, and she has a strong desire to provide them with love, stability, and a structured routine that is needed by all children. TFI is grateful for Linda’s dedication to the children, as well as her devotion to the TFI family!

Oklahoma News

Previous foster parents, Ty and Sara Randolph, are instilling a service attitude and giving back to their community through their son Eli’s Marshall County 4H Project he started in 2020 called Bridging Books. During their time as foster parents, they would buy two of the same books. One was given to the biological parents and the same book for the foster child/ren in their home. As a bridging tool, the biological parents were able to Facetime with the child and read to the child while the child was able to look at the book in the foster home.

Two statistics Eli found while completing this project:

  • Just an additional 6 minutes of reading per day can significantly improve kids’ reading ability.
  • Children who read at least 20 minutes a day are exposed to almost 2 million words per year.

Eli donated books to TFI foster families and is pictured here with a couple of the donated books. Thank you, Eli, for caring for foster children!

Texas Care Provider of the Month

Daniel and Stephanie Kleman and their six-year-old son became a TFI licensed foster home in Haslet, Texas on April 20, 2022. The Kleman family are enthusiastic to start their journey to foster-to-adopt two children. The Klemans appreciate the full support of their extended family who reside in the area. The Klemans have two child-friendly companion pets, Siberian Huskies, Twinkie and Oreo. The family enjoys sports, and activities in the great outdoors. We are proud to partner with the Klemans to best meet the needs of children in Texas.

Texas News

It’s an exciting time for growth in Texas! Texas Family Initiative’s newest offices are up and running! Located in far East Texas in the city of Tyler, this new office is located in the center of downtown Tyler in the historic Austin Bank building. Texas Foster Care Case Manager Kadasjah Hunt and Supervisor Tammy L. Johnson are excited to serve families and children in the Piney Woods of Texas! Texas Foster Care’s second new office is located in the Texas Hill County in New Braunfels. New Braunfels is well known as being the home of the Schlitterbahn Water Park and is centrally located between the Texas capital of Austin and the home of the Alamo, San Antonio! Texas Foster Care Case Manager Chelci Munoz and Supervisor Kassia Jaramillo are hard at work welcoming new foster parents and children to the TFI family. Both the Tyler and New Braunfels offices offer foster care and adoption services, as well as extensive work with kinship families caring for children in the custody of the State of Texas.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, TFI provides services in Lubbock/Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Brownwood, DFW, Tyler/Longview/Marshall, and New Braunfels/Austin/San Antonio – as well as many of the small towns located close to these major cities.  Please contact Texas Foster Care at txdata@tfifamily.org or visit our website at Become A Texas Foster Parent – TFI (tfifamily.org)

Training Corner

The Use of Choice in Early Childhood

Another way to create harmony and obedience in children is by using the “choice” technique. In this, younger children should be offered only a small number of choices, ideally no more than 2 or 3 at a time. Too many choices will overwhelm children and complicate the situation. All the choices to be offered are selected in advance by parents and are therefore acceptable and appropriate…Read more!

Read the article below, fill out the quiz and send to your worker for credit. 

Need Additional Training?

Check out these other training opportunities in August

Recruitment Spotlight

In recent months, we’ve had some transfers and new hires within our recruitment department. That being said, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind all of our families of the recruitment staff in your area.

KS/NE/OK Director
Laney Uphoff luphoff@tfifamily.org

Kansas/Nebraska Recruitment Staff
Recruitment Supervisor: Casie Spangler cspangler@tfifamily.org
Recruiter (Northern KS & NE) Shelby Grissom sgrissom@tfifamily.org
Recruiter (Southern KS) Kasha Farmer kfarmer@tfifamily.org

Oklahoma Recruitment Staff
Recruitment Supervisor: Curtis Anderson canderson@tfifamily.org
Recruiter: Tom Porter tporter@tfifamily.org

Texas
Director: Glenn Hoffman ghoffman@tfifamily.org
Preparation Specialist: Ashley Hernandez ahernandez@tfifamily.org

Have a great month,
The Recruitment Team

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” –Mother Teresa

Fund Development

It’s Back to School! Please remember when you are doing your back to school shopping on Amazon or at Kroger to sign up with TFI as your charitable organization. It’s at no additional cost to you and TFI will receive a percentage of the sale as a donation!

Our two annual Kansas Events are right around the corner this Fall!

  • Blues, Brews, and Bites music festival is in Topeka, KS on September 10th.
    Buy tickets here: TFI Blues, Brews & Bites – TFI (tfifamily.org)
  • Tee Off Fore Children Golf Tournament is at Firekeeper golf course in Mayetta, KS September 28th. If you are interested in helping out in any way, please contact Sheila Kearney at skearney@tfifamily.org or 785.213.6161

Thanks for all you do!

Oklahoma/Texas: Steven Mandeville | 918-728-3378 | smandeville@tfifamily.org 
Kansas/Nebraska: Sheila Kearney | 785-213-6161 | skearney@tfifamily.org 
Events & Volunteer Coordinator: Libby Hayden | 785-294-6606 | ehayden@tfifamily.org

The winner of this month’s newsletter giveaway is Christopher Todd. To claim your $25 Amazon gift card, please email your foster care worker and tell them you won the giveaway. You must email your worker within the month of August to accept your prize.

Happy Anniversary

Thank you for opening your hearts and homes to children in need.

17 Years
Jason & Crystal Owen

13 Years
Harold Brown & Cheryl Heaggans
Kelly Meyer
Donna Daniels

11 Years
Melinda Douglas

5 Years
Kalisha Washington

1 Year
Austin & Bionca Keesey
Eric & Kristey Dodge
Adam & Kelli Proffitt
Adam & Shawna Pack
Kevin & Tracy Sowers
Ernest & Carolina Oliphant
Frank & Annette Conti
Jared & Kailey Haley

Amazon Smile

Every time you make a purchase on Amazon, TFI Family Services can earn money and participating does NOT increase the price you pay for your purchases. Visit smile.amazon.com or click the picture above and select TFI Family Services to support youth in foster care.

Dillons Rewards

Every time you make a purchase at Dillons, TFI Family Services can earn money. Please visit dillons.com/communityrewards or click the picture above and select TFI Family Services as your nonprofit to support youth in foster care.