Between Families – May 2022

May is National Foster Care Month

It is a month during which the community is reminded of this largely silent population that lives hiding in plain sight.

Why May?
May is the fifth month of our calendar. It hides right in the calendar, much like foster families live right in our communities but are often unseen. May is spring, rebirth. The caterpillar begins its journey to transform into a butterfly, the trees bud and leaves unfurl gradually, the chill of winter still lingers, but moments of warmth press on and light our way. Days, once short, dark, and gray, lengthen and lighten. May is a month of transition and transformation.

Foster care is built upon the principles of transition and transformation. Foster parents are temporary in a child’s life. It might be one night, it might be years of care, but (unless the child becomes available for adoption and the foster parent chooses and is approved to adopt and become a forever family) the impact of a foster parent lasts a lifetime. The balance of sunshine and rain, warmth, and chill that springtime provides prepares trees for the year ahead. It can nourish and prepare a tree to better weather a drought in months to come. It allows new leaves, who will nourish the tree, to grow strong and bold with color. Strong foster parents let children unfurl at their own rate, to grow roots, to take sips of safety, stability, and love that will carry along in their hearts and minds for years to come. Foster parents prepare a child for what is to come. The transition can lead to transformation.

Why does Foster Care need a month?
Ultimately, foster care doesn’t need a month. No foster parent has every said “I do this work so I can be recognized in May.” They don’t choose to welcome a hurting child into their home so that a local politician can speak at a dinner, or so they can receive a mug with an inspiring quote. They do it because their heart won’t let them NOT do it.

The month is there to shed a beam of light on this population. It is there to break through barriers, to remind people that “foster kids” are KIDS in foster care. They are human, with hopes, dreams, plans, fears, loves, joy, purpose, and dignity. They are members of our schools, houses of worship, sports teams, and workplaces. National Foster Care Month is the opportunity to highlight the most human stories around and to remember that we are one community with love and hope for all its members.

To our foster parents, the energized, the weary, the grieving, the determined, the gentle presence, we see you.  We see your moments of glory, we see your sacrifice, we see your labor of love. To our kiddos, we see you. We see your fear, confusion, courage, your willingness to try again, to be vulnerable, to love a family you did not ask for, to love the family you did ask for in spite of distance and separation. We see your glow. We see your determination and your heart. In the month of May (and every month), let’s all see one another a little more clearly.

Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month

Christopher Todd was certified in 2019 and has had two long term placements. He has done an excellent job with bridging and adapting to each child’s needs. His placements had a positive experience reuniting with a relative because of Christopher’s efforts. He has been an exceptional foster parent, even going as far as to drive to Kansas to assist with visits. TFI appreciates Mr. Todd for his commitment to children in his care.

Oklahoma News

Free Training Opportunities for Foster Parents

*The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) provides training opportunities for foster parents.

Families and Caregivers | The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (nctsn.org)

Parents and caregivers play an essential role in helping children and teenagers recover from traumatic events. These resources are for parents, adoptive parents, resource/foster parents, grandparents, caregivers and all others who care for children and teens. The more caregivers learn about how traumatic events affect their children (whether toddler, school-age, teen, youth or adult), the more they understand the reasons for their children’s behaviors and emotions, and the better prepared they are to help them cope. When children know that caring adults are working to keep them safe and support them in understanding their reactions to trauma, most can recover and go on to live healthy and productive lives.

*Wellspring offers a free 2-night hotel stay and engaging sessions for couples and single parents. It’s a combination of time to connect with new friends, access tools and resources to strengthen your family, and a chance to get away and refuel! You will receive In-Service Training hours for attending all weekend. (Children don’t attend, but a child care stipend is available to help cover the cost of care.)

At this time, we cannot accept repeat attendees. If you have already enjoyed the Wellspring experience, please share this opportunity with friends!

Sign up here to let us know which event works for you!

·        Oklahoma City: June 10-12
·        Broken Arrow: June 24-26

Questions? Contact the Wellspring Team at 1-844-944-9301 or visit our website wellspringweekend.com

Upon completion of training, complete the Training Verification Form and give to your Foster Care Worker to receive credit. (Reminder: 12 hours of training required annually).

Texas Care Provider of the Month

Samuel and Hannah Williams opened their home as a licensed foster care provider with TFI in February 2021. The Williams previously enjoyed fostering in New Mexico from 2015 – 2018, at which time they adopted their adorable daughter, Savannah. They have a biological daughter, Esther, who is one month younger than Savannah, so they make great playmates. The couple decided to reopen their home in hopes of adopting Savannah’s brother. He is currently residing in the loving environment of the William’s home where he is growing closer each day to his sister. Sam and Savannah share their strong faith in God and believe they are fulfilling their calling providing a loving home to these children. They also endorse themselves as “very playful big kids”.  While the family enjoys nightly dinners, they all enjoy playing inside and outdoors. They enjoy many activities together including trips to the park, exploring/camping, board games, movie and ice cream nights. We are honored to be partnered with the Williams family to best meet the needs of kids in Texas.

Texas News

For Texas Foster Care, growth continues to be on the horizon. In 2021, Texas established two new foster care offices. The first is in far East Texas in the town of Tyler. Located in the historic Austin Bank Building in downtown, this office provides support to East Texas families all of the way to the Louisiana state line! Foster care, adoption and kinship services are offered in Tyler.  These services are also being provided at Texas’ newest branch in New Braunfels. Located at that halfway point between Austin and San Antonio, this office provides support to our families in central Texas and the Texas Hill Country. Texas Foster Care continues to be excited about the growth we are experiencing. Keep watching this space for exciting things to come!

Training Corner

Unlocking Hidden Emotions: Play Therapy for Foster Children

Trying to understand what a child is thinking can be difficult. Without the ability to express themselves, or if past trauma has affected their ability to do so, handling grief and trauma can become a major obstacle for foster parents. Whether it’s attachment issues, stubbornness, or acting out, behaviors you experience with foster children may be cries for help…

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 May

Recruitment Spotlight

At the end of this month, we will be hosting our Annual Foster Parent Retreat. This year we are focusing on self-care with a theme of “The Balance”. We hope to give inspiration through our guest speakers and tips on how to balance being a foster parent, caring for yourself and children, while also continuing all other activities and responsibilities life throws our way.

We will be sending out a registration link to your email weekly with more information, or you can contact your case worker for the registration link.

Have a great month!
-The Recruitment Team

Fund Development

We wanted to share an encouraging story about community partnerships. A nine-year-old boy in Wichita Falls, Texas has been living with his grandparents over the last couple of years after his parents weren’t able to take care of him. As things progressed slowly on his case, the time finally came for him to be adopted by his grandparents. Unfortunately, there was a job loss and the fees for adoption were too large for the family to complete the adoption. The Wichita County Child Welfare Board stepped in, paid the cost, and the little boy was legally adopted by his grandparents!

We love to see when community partners step in and meet the needs of children. If you know anybody like the good folks in Wichita County, we would love to connect them to needs like this one!

Everything is progressing well for the upcoming Texas Family Initiative Golf Tournament to be held on Monday, May 23 at the Timarron Country Club in Southlake, Texas. If you know anybody who likes to play golf in DFW, send them our way! We are still accepting sponsors, teams and volunteers. If you are interested, please contact Steven at smandeville@tfifamily.org.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any contacts, questions, or fun stories of generosity at 918.894.8727 or smandeville@tfifamily.org.

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 Alan and Alissa Dyke. 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 May to accept your prize.

Happy Anniversary

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

9 Years
Allison & Amanda Rogers
Jefferson & Jo An Barkley

8 Years
James & Leslie Wright
Paul & Christine Holz
Michelle Baier & Mandy Fritz

7 Years
Teresa Holthaus

6 Years
Richard & Christine Grimm
James & Lora Crawford
Mishal Njoku & Shanda Jones
Steven & Karri Orick
Aundrea Odom
Rick & Karen Anderson
Jerry Kirk

5 Years
Cory Forrester & Susan Smith

1 Year
Nicholas Spilman & Alyssah Collins
Christopher & Tracey Ledom
Candice & Kacie Wood
Joseph & Megan Paciaroni
Dawn Thomas
Dilon & Kyla Keller
Maria Ruiz
Tyronda Horner
Tammy Vion
Rebecca Wright
Jerry & Nancy Torneden

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.