Between Families – September 2022

Self Care Tips for Foster Parents

Are you a foster parent in the trenches of foster care and feeling worn out? Use these self care tips for foster parents to keep yourself going strong and able to care for your foster child.

Foster care is challenging for the entire family, especially the foster parents who are the daily direct care givers for foster children. Foster children range from those who are considered medically fragile who’s needs are obvious and clearly diagnosed to those who suffer from emotional challenges such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and present and perfectly “normal” until you live with them.

Dealing with each of these types of challenges and all everything in between, takes its toll on the foster parent emotionally and physically.

Some self care will look the same for foster parents but most will have a little different twist. I believe that while most people focus on physical self care, which is needful for everyone, foster parents will focus more on emotional self care.

Use Respite: Respite is just what it sounds like. It’s a break for some rest. In fact, the dictionary definition is “a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.” You might think it sounds horrible to call fostering a child “difficult or unpleasant,” but it can be. That is what makes a foster parent so special. They do the difficult and unpleasant thing on a daily basis and then go back for more, all for the love of a child.

Take those days away and come back to the table refreshed and with a fresh perspective.

Keep Your Body Physically Healthy: It takes a lot both emotionally and physically do be a foster parent. Yes, you need to be physically able to keep up with kids, especially if you are fostering toddlers or kids with special needs who seem to move constantly. However, keeping your body healthy is also the number one way to keep your brain functioning at peak. Make time for a workout – especially when things are not going well with your foster – you will be more even tempered

Prioritize Your Sleep: For foster parents, consistent, good sleep is not always possible. Some foster parents are fostering new babies, or are fostering new babies who are drug exposed, medically fragile, and sleep very little. Others are fostering children with emotional issues that cause sleep disturbance. For all of these reasons, consistent sleep, especially when you have a new foster placement, can be difficult. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are getting enough rest. Here are some ideas: Sleep when your foster child sleeps, use respite when available, use nursing care when available for medically complex kids, and go to bed earlier when a spouse is still awake.

Journaling: Being a foster parent will bring up all kinds of emotions that you may not expect. Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts out on paper and be able to identify the ones that are causing your emotions.

Journaling in foster care is also helpful in tracking behaviors and incidents. Many times my journal has been the tool to tell me, when looking back, when an illness or behavior actually started with a child. If journaling seems difficult to you, instead of journaling about your day, start with some easy journal ideas like these.

Support Groups: Foster and adoptive parenting presents a unique and complex set of challenges. Without adequate support, foster and adoptive parents can feel isolated, become overwhelmed with the needs of their foster and/or adoptive children and even their biological children, and even decide to quit fostering or disrupt an adoption.

Support groups are needful and effective because they decrease the feelings of isolation, help parents feel understood, and provide a space for foster and adoptive parents to get realistic suggestions in how to handle the unique challenges they face from people who are in the trenches with them.

Support groups designed specifically for foster and adoptive parents enhance their ability to parent their children effectively.

All State News

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and TFI is looking for adoption stories! If you have an adoption story you would like to share, please contact Danielle Sipe at dsipe@tfifamily.org.

Kansas Care Provider of the Month

David and Yvonne Sommers started fostering in 2018 to help local long-term foster families by providing respite so they can go out of town or enjoy date nights. The Sommers family became a hidden gem as they are the family all the long-term foster families go to for respite. The Sommers provide a loving and learning environment for the children who come to their home. The children have stated they love being able to be outdoors, watching or feeding the small farm animals, and hanging out with the Sommers’ children in the home. The Sommers’ children are actively involved by learning how to support the children in the home (attending trainings and listening/present during home visits). They are also actively involved in helping the children transition into the home or going to a fun relative’s house for a break. TFI Family Services is thankful to have the Sommers family to help with the needs of respite families. They have served in many ways.

According to Yvonne and David, “Doing foster care is one way we can show the love of Jesus with these children who find themselves in unfortunate situations.”

Thank you, Sommers family, for your 5 years  of fostering that began in 2018!

Nebraska Care Provider of the Month

Eddie and Sarah Mariel provide amazing foster care for their currently placement. Eddie, Sarah, and their children accepted this child into their home in December of 2021, and the love this family has for his as well as his love reciprocated to the family is heartwarming and evident to all who know them. This month, the family is taking the next step to welcome their placement as an official member of their family. TFI worked diligently with the family to help them through this process of adoption. Members of the family have noted that this child came into their lives and they “couldn’t imagine a life without him”.

Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month

Ryan and Jamie Krueger are new to TFI Family as foster parents; however, they are not new to fostering. Both have Master’s degrees in teaching and are employed full time. They were foster parents in Washington State for several years and Ryan worked as a foster parent trainer for the State of WA. They opened their home and were immediately given brothers. Jamie is a special education teacher, and the oldest brother is on the autism spectrum. The placement has had its difficulties, but they continue with perseverance and love. The brothers have been a wealthy addition to the hearts of their family.

Recently, the Krueger’s opened an animal education center and petting zoo named Pawsitively Wild in Atoka. They offer a discount to all foster families who visit and encourage other foster parents within TFI to visit!

Oklahoma News

Following the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, a group of legislators will soon host an interim study to examine adoption and the foster care system within Oklahoma.

Representatives Brian Hill, R-Mustang, Brad Boles, R-Marlow, and Dick Lowe, R-Amber, requested an interim study to take an in-depth look at possible avenues to reduce barriers to permanency and find option to support a more efficient foster care system without compromising the well-being of children in the program.

“We must ensure that our Oklahoma adoption and foster care systems are well-funded and functioning efficiently so we can best serve this population in need,” Boles said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about what we can do in the Legislature to help improve this process.”

According to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), approximately 7,000 children are currently in Oklahoma’s foster care system.

The interim study will be held before the House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee but has not yet been scheduled. However, interim studies must conclude no later than November.

Article by: Miranda Vondale Foster Jul 29, 2022

Texas Care Provider of the Month

Michael and Tomi Moe are a TFI verified foster home in Justin, Texas. Michael and Tomi share their unique compassion to care for and nurture children with primary medical needs. The Moe family have been motivated to open their home to these very vulnerable children, as placement options for them are few. They are very hands-on providing loving patience to the children they serve, finding it especially rewarding to track the children’s progress.

Currently, the Moe family provide care in their loving home to a nine-year-old girl who has multiple medical issues, including cerebral palsy, scoliosis, seizure disorder, and sleep apnea among others. She is dependent on a g-tube, consistent supervision, and requires several therapies and medical interventions. Since placed in their home she has made notable progress regarding appropriate weight gain, communication, and affective responses. She is developing her skills in part via a Tobii Dynavox device which allows her the ability to better communicate, express her feelings, introduce herself, and listen to music. Her TFI Case Manager, Kadasjah Hunt reports she becomes increasingly animated, and her affect brightens in the presence of the family members. Michael and Tomi do a great job providing her normalcy activities such as coordinated playdates with other children with disabilities. We are so proud at TFI to partner with the Moe family to best meet the needs of children in Texas!

Thank you, Michael and Tomi Moe for all you do to help children with medical needs!

Texas News

Texas Foster Care has joined the Tyler Foster Care Collective!  Having recently opened a branch office in Tyler, Texas Family Initiative was given the opportunity to join The Fostering Collective.  With the motto, “Giving Hope to Children in Foster Care” this group of local child welfare organizations comes together to coordinate services, recruit new foster families, and provide support to current foster families and the children they care for.  The Fostering Collective coordinates parenting groups, holds trainings, provides babysitting coordination, has a clothing closet, and more!  Texas Family Initiative attended their first meeting in August where a discussion took place about the organization’s upcoming training conference, recent changes in legislation that impacts foster parents, and more.  Texas Family Initiative will be sponsoring lunch for The Collective’s September meeting and will have an information both at the organization’s Information Meeting that is scheduled for September 20, 2022.  Find more information about The Fostering Collective and their work with TFI here The Fostering Collective.

Training Corner

Team Decision Making: A Better Way to Assess Child Safety

Team Deci­sion Mak­ing (TDM) is a depar­ture from tra­di­tion­al child wel­fare prac­tice. Instead of a sin­gle case­work­er deter­min­ing what to do in a cri­sis that requires con­sid­er­a­tion of out-of-home care because of child abuse or neglect, TDM brings togeth­er par­ents, fam­i­ly, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and oth­ers to assess the sit­u­a­tion and deter­mine how best to keep the child safe….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 September

Recruitment Spotlight

We’d like to take a moment and thank all of our foster families who referred a new family to TFI this last year. Our foster families were once again our No. 1 referral source for new TFI foster families.

We wanted to remind everyone about our Ambassador Program and all the great benefits that go with it. Here are some of the great things you can earn!

Silver Level – 1-2 families referred: $500 per family referred and one entry into the $1,000 gift card drawing
Gold Level – 3-4 families referred: $500 per family referred, $50 gift card and one entry into the $1,000 gift card drawing
Diamond Level – 5-7 families referred: $550 per family referred, $100 gift card and one entry into the $1,000 gift card drawing
Platinum Level – 8+ families referred: $600 per family referred, $150 gift card and one entry into the $1,000 gift card drawing

If there are any questions about any of our referral programs please reach out us at recruitment@tfifamily.org or 833-7-FOSTER.

Have a great month!

-The Recruitment Team

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

Is It Fall Yet?

This is a big month for the fund development team as we ramp up for a couple of our events this fall – we are having our annual golf tournament in Topeka on September 28th and our Blues, Brews, and Bites concert in Topeka on September 10th. If you are interested in helping out in any way, please contact Sheila Kearney at skearney@tfifamily.org.

We’re also in the planning stages of our Christmas gift fundraising with the holidays just around the corner! If you know anybody who wants to do an angel tree or donate gifts for kids, please let us know and we’d love to connect them to our staff in their area.

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 Kasey Delarosa. 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 September 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.