Fun Activities That Will Strengthen Your Family Bond
As the holiday season approaches, many of the members of your family will be going in different directions attending parties, school programs, and any additional extracurricular activities your children participate in. We wanted to offer ideas to incorporate into your routines as a family; the activities are fun and they will also strengthen your family bond:
Eating Meals Together
For a family that is involved with individual activities, sitting down for dinner is important. Taking the time to enjoy food together while you touch base should be a nightly activity if possible.
You have the opportunity to talk about the details of your day. It allows you to find out on a daily basis what’s happening in school and social activities with your kids. Cooking together or cleaning up after dinner is good practice, also. Getting your children to contribute to some of the domestic duties of the house will teach them about work ethic.
Play Board Game Together
Playing board games is fun and they’re designed to make you think. It doesn’t take that much time and you don’t have to leave the house. Building these memories for your children are invaluable to their state of mind and your own.
There are many board games designed to interest all members of your family, regardless of age. Make it a weekly family engagement to have a game night. Teaming up with your kids is a great way to bond, especially if you happen to win. You’ll also have the opportunity to be a good sport in the event that you lose.
Volunteering Together as a Family
Volunteering is a great idea for a family on so many levels. Doing something deeply meaningful together brings you closer. You are teaching your kids how to have a humanitarian mindset at an early age.
Many experts suggest that volunteering boosts self-esteem and is good therapy for depressing. Getting your kids volunteering at an early age gives them a good sense of self. This is essential when they become teenagers. Some options are serving meals at a shelter, helping a family in need over the holidays or doing a charity walk as a family unit.
Being Crafty Together
Kids love being creative as it gives them the opportunity to express themselves. Their finished craft project will be one of a kind which is how children discover their individuality. Many adults say they’re not creative but everyone is creative as art is whatever you want it to be.
Being creative is just as important as an academic enhancement for children. Even better is when you involve yourself with the crafting projects as a means of bonding. It’s a lot of fun and you have the opportunity to learn something from your kids, such as learning that coloring inside the lines isn’t so important.
No matter what activity it is, as long as it’s with your family, it is sure to be a success!
Pam Richardson, LMSW
The holidays are quickly upon us. Your Kansas foster care staff are hard at work obtaining donations and putting up Angel Trees for our children in care.
Staff will soon be contacting your family to ask a variety of questions from children’s clothing sizes to his or her wish list items. This is a great time of year for our staff to help support in making the best holidays for children.
As a reminder, DCF has two regulations that apply specifically to children and gifts:
K.A.R. 28-4-814 (c)
(1) Each licensee shall ensure that each child in foster care is provided with essential items to meet each child’s needs including the following:
(E) Birthday and holiday gifts.
K.A.R. 28-4-809 (c)
Departure requirements: When any child in foster care moves from the family foster home, the licensee shall send the following with the child:
(3) all usable clothing, school supplies, recreational equipment, gifts, and any other items purchased specifically for and given to the child during placement in the family foster home including items provided by the foster parents.
We will have more information soon with holiday party dates. We look forward to seeing you and your family there!
Kansas Care Providers of the Month
Leslie and Sam Davis have been fostering for over five years, now. They have dealt with crazy circumstances over the course of this past month and have done an excellent job of communicating with their worker, and advocating for their kids.
Leslie and Sam have been put into circumstances that would have overwhelmed most families, and they have overcome these things head on. Their continued support and unfailing faith they put into these kids, families and our agencies are noticed and very much appreciated.
We want to thank them for their service to youth in the foster care system!
These support meetings will be held in conjunction with the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association. A representative of the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association will present a 1-hour training, which can be used toward your annual continuing education requirement.
Free on-site child care will be provided.Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the number of children needing child care.
Dillons Community Rewards: dillons.com/communityrewards
Between Families Recruitment Moment
The holidays are once again here, lots of hustle and bustle not much time for anything. I remember reading an article not so long ago about how contentment and gratitude are no the same thing, but they are closely related. We can receive a gift and show gratitude for it, but in our heart of hearts are we content? We are a society that wants more, always more. We want a bigger house, a nicer car, a bigger diamond, a better life. Our bosses want more productivity, spouses want more patience, and our children want more time with us, better toys, more love, more, more and more…
It should be all so simiple, shouldn’t it? We should be able to give more of ourselves as easily as we pick up more milk at the grocery store. So during the craziness of the next couple of months while you are spreading yourself thin, remember to be not only grateful but content with what is right in front of you. Stop and think about that adorable little smiling face that woke you up this morning, that your spouse made you that cupe of coffee before rushing out to their day. Remember that though a bigger house would be nice, you have just as much love and happiness right where you are.
We here at TFI Family want you all to know that we are grateful, beyond measure, for all you do for our kids that are safely nestled in your homes. Always remember how grateful and how content they are to be safe and warm and cared for. We wish you all blessings and happiness throughout the coming holiday season. Thank you for all that you do, all day, every day.
Libby Hayden, Community Liaison Coordinator
DHS is releasing new policy and processes with an expected relate date of 11/1/18. These changes have been in process for several years. This new policy will greatly impact the work we do. Some of the noticeable changes coming are:
- DHS Permanency Planning works and TFI Foster Care Workers will check your entire home quarterly. This means they will need to look at spaces, such as basements, closets, and outdoor structures (sheds, barns, etc.) on your property.
- An annual assessment of your home will continue to be done by the Foster Care Worker, but it will be easier for you. You will no longer have to do a medical examination annually, nor a financial assessment.
- Several documents will have to be completed at the time your fingerprints are renewed (they are good for five years). These include a medical examination.
- If you adopt, many of these documents will have to be completed for the adoption addendum.
- More information will be provided in the next few months as we are trained on the changes.
Activus Coming Soon: Activus is going to be piloted soon with TFI. Activus is a text application which will allow DHS to text the foster parents who are near a DHS office where a child is in the office awaiting placement. TFI is on the work group for this pilot. It is our understanding this will be implemented in November. Please let your Foster Care Worker know if you get a text, and your thoughts on the process, so we can communicate it back to DHS.
TFI Family Connections is pleased to announce Caterine Mure as the new Director of Foster Care for Oklahoma. Mure graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2007 with a Master’s degree in Social Work. She currently holds a clinical license in social work and drug and alcohol counseling. Mure has worked in foster care for more than 10 years with a focus on therapeutic foster care.
“As a former foster child, I have been passionate about supporting foster families and children, giving back to my community, and improving foster care practice overall. I am excited to be working for TFI and am committed to furthering the mission of TFI,” said Mure.
We are excited to have Catherine Mure as part of the TFI family!
Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month
Amanda Roberson has accepted placement of a sibling even though she does not have an extra bedroom for this child. She has built an entire room for this child in a matter of a couple of weeks. Her living room is now cut in half allowing the child to have her own room. Roberson has shown initiative to follow policy and ensure that sleeping arrangement policies are being followed.
Not only did Roberson take it upon herself to get this done, she used her family and friends as support to ensure the room was built and the sibling had everything she needed for placement.
Amanda Roberson has maintained placement of this sibling and continues to do well with providing excellent care for children. Thank you for all you do, Amanda!
Texas Family Initiative will be having a Breakfast with Santa. You, our foster families, are invited to come and take pictures with Santa. Our staff will be cooking some great homemade waffles and pancakes with toppings, and will have orange juice, hot chocolate and coffee.
Come enjoy Santa and our homemade cooking at Santa’s Workshop (aka, TFI’s office) on Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Texas Care Providers of the Month
On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, Shaun and Janessa Skiles completed the adoption of Ella Taylor and Warren McKinney. Both Ella and Warren were placed with the Skiles on December 7, 2017. When Ella and Warren were placed with the Skiles, family reunification was the plan. By May of 2018, CPS shared with Shaun and Janessa that family reunification was not achievable, and began to speak with them about adoption.
The Skiles had been praying for children throughout the year. So when CPS suggested that they adopt Ella and Warren, both Shaun and Janessa knew their prayers had been answered. On August 17, 2018, Shaun and Janessa met with the adoption worker to begin the process of adopting Ella and Warren. On September 28, adoption placement of both Ella and Warren was completed. And on October 10, the adoption of Ella Skiles and Warren Skiles was granted by the Grayson County Courts.
Congratulations to the Skiles, and thank you for what you do!
Jimmy and Amy Steele
James and Julie Rooks
David and Claire Roth/Hopps
Worley and Kayla Harper
Bradford and Heather Ensley
Jeremy and Mandy Lemmon/Floyd-Lemmon
Victor and Elisa Carreon
Scott and April Lingle
Among the midst of the holiday shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, TFI is taking part of #GivingTuesday on November 27. We are asking all of our staff, volunteers and foster families to help us spread the word. Below are two, easy ways you can assist us in raising money for our foster kids on this charitable day.
1. Donate on social media
You may go to TFI, Connections or Texas Family Initiative Facebook pages to donate. Please share with your friends and encourage others to donate!
2. Donate on our website
Visit us at tfifamily.org/donations and click the “Donate Now” button.
12 Ideas for Supportive Adults to Help their Young Person through the Holidays
- 1. Prepare the foster youth in your care for the holidays in your home
Have a discussion with the young person about your family’s holiday customs. Do you celebrate over multiple days, or is there one “main” celebration? Are there religious customs? Will gifts be exchanged? What should they wear? Who will they meet? What preparations need to be done in advance? Will there be visitors to the home? Will they be taken on visits to the homes of other family or friends? And in all of these events, will your youth be expected to participate? Knowing what to expect will help to decrease anxiety around the holidays. Avoid surprises and you will decrease seasonal tensions.2. Prepare friends and family before you visit
Let people know in advance about new family members in your home. Surprising a host or hostess at the door with a “new” foster youth may set up an awkward situation — such as a scramble to set an extra place at the table —making the young person feel like an imposition right from the start of the visit. Your preparation of friends should help cut down on awkward, but reasonable questions such as “who are you?” or “where did you come from?”3. Remember confidentiality
You may receive well intended but prying questions from those you visit with over the holidays. If your young person is new to your home, it is natural that family members ask questions about your youth’s background. Understand that questions are generally not meant to be insensitive or rude, but simply come from a place of not knowing much about foster care. Think in advance about how to answer these questions while maintaining your youth’s confidentiality. Use the opportunity to educate interested family and friends. Discuss with your young person how they would like to be introduced and what is appropriate to share about their history with your family and friends. (Remember, they have no obligation to reveal their past.)
4. Arrange meeting your family in advance, if possible
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can make it particularly chaotic for your young person to participate in your family traditions. Anxiety may run high for young people already, and the stress of meeting your relatives may be a lot to deal with. If possible, you can arrange a casual “meeting” in advance of “main events.” If it is not possible or practical to meet beforehand, make a list of names of some of the people they’ll meet and their connection to you. You can also encourage a quick call from relatives you plan to visit to deliver a personal message of “we are excited to met you” so that your youth knows they will be welcome.
5. Have extra presents ready to help offset differences
It should not be expected that all relatives purchase presents for your youth. Be prepared with other small gifts and for those family members that express concern over not having brought a gift, offer one of your “backups” for them to place under the tree. Extra presents may be addressed “from Santa”, even for older youth, to help offset a larger number of gifts other children may receive at the same time. Children often keep count of the number of gifts received (right or wrong) and use it to compare with other kids, so sometimes quantity is important.
6. Facilitate visits with loved ones
The holidays can be a busy time for everyone including foster parents and caseworkers. But it is especially important during this time of year to help your young person arrange for visits with loved ones. Don’t allow busy schedules to mean the postponement of these important visits. Try to get permission for your youth to make phone calls to relatives (if long distance charges are an issue, ask if calls can be placed from the foster care agency or provide a local business or individual to “donate” by allowing the use of their phone). A youth may wish to extend holiday wishes to relatives and friends from an old neighborhood, but may need your help getting phone numbers together. Use the opportunity to help the youth develop their own address book.
7. Help them make sure their loved ones are okay
Young people may worry that their family members are struggling through the holidays. If homelessness has been a regular issue, the winter season may bring cold weather and extreme hardship. Your youth may experience guilt if they feel a loved one is struggling while they, the youth, are living in comfort. Knowing that a biological parent or sibling has shelter from the cold or has their other basic needs met may ease a young person’s mind through the always emotional holidays.
8. Extend an invitation
If it is safe and allowed by your foster care agency, consider extending an invitation to siblings or bioparents through the holidays. It need not be an invitation to your “main” holiday event, consider a “special” dinner for your youth to celebrate with their loved ones. If this not a possibility to do within your home, consider arranging a visit at a local restaurant (ask the caseworker is it would be appropriate for the visit to be unsupervised or if your supervision would suffice). Extending an invitation to their loved ones need not signal to a young person that you support their bio-family’s lifestyle or choices — rather it tells a young person that you respect their wish to stay connected to family. You will also send a message to the youth that that aren’t being put in a position to “choose” your family over their bio-family and that it is possible to have a relationship with all the people they care about.
9. Understand and encourage your youth’s own traditions and beliefs
Encourage discussion about the holiday traditions your young person experienced prior to being in foster care, or even celebrations they liked while living with other foster families. Incorporate the traditions the youth cherishes into your own family celebration, if possible. Use the opportunity to investigate the youth’s culture and research customary traditions. If the young person holds a religious belief different from yours, or if their family did, check into the traditions customarily surrounding those beliefs.
10. Assist in purchasing or making holiday gifts or in sending cards to their family and friends
Allow young people to purchase small gifts for their relatives, or help them craft homemade gifts. Help send holiday cards to those that they want to stay connected with. The list of people that your youth wishes to send cards and gifts to should be left completely to the youth, although precautions may be taken to ensure safety (for example, a return address may be left off the package, or use the address of the foster care agency) and compliance with any court orders.
11. Understand if they pull away
Despite your best efforts, a young person may simply withdraw during the holidays. Understand that this detachment most likely is not intended to be an insult or a reflection of how they feel about you, but rather is their own coping mechanism. Allow for “downtime” during the holidays that will allow the youth some time to themselves if they need it (although some youth would prefer to stay busy to keep their mind off other things — you will need to make a decision based on your knowledge of the young person). Be sure to fit in one-on-one time, personal time for your youth and you to talk through what they are feeling during this emotional and often confusing time of year.
12. Call youth who formerly lived with you
The holidays can be a particularly tough time for youth who have recently aged out of foster care. They may not have people to visit or a place to go for the holidays. In addition, young people commonly struggle financially when they first leave foster care. A single phone call may lift their spirits and signal that you continue to care for them and treasure their friendship. Be sure to include these youth on your own holiday card list. A small token gift or gift basket of homemade holiday goodies may be especially appreciated.
- Name three things to help youth through the holidays.__________________ ___________________ ___________________
- True or False? Visitation is not import to youth around the holidays?
- Youth may be ______________during the holidays. It is important to allow for ___________ during the busy time of the year.
- Outline your plan below to answer questions from family and friends about youth in your care. Remember confidentiality is required.
- Make a plan for your family to involve everyone’s traditions. Outline that plan below.
- Prepare ___________and ___________ before they visit.