“I don’t know what I would have done without Child & Family. They were a huge support system for me.”
Child & Family’s commitment to family preservation, strong leadership, and best practices are the pinnacle of the success stories experienced by foster parents like Kristy Baker and her two foster children. Child & Family’s therapeutic and evidence-based practice, and round-the-clock support services are instrumental in ensuring that foster relationships succeed and that children in the foster care system heal and thrive.
Opening your home to a child in need of love and security is an unforgettable experience that creates a unique bond between foster parents and children. Helping these children overcome hardship and pain, teaching them to trust again, and helping them to develop their own sense of inner strength is empowering for everyone involved. In the words of Kristy Baker “It isn’t easy. But, if you can find the strength to help a child who needs consistency, truth, and love, the reward is beyond words.”
In June of 2021, Kristy received a call from the State Department of Children Youth and Their Families (DCYF) informing her that her niece Olivia and nephew Billy were in the agency’s care, setting the wheels in motion for placement in her home. Kristy, a single mother of two biological adult children, had been prepared for that call for years, she says.
“I knew one day I would be taking care of them and knew exactly what I was signing on for, but it was still so hard,” says Kristy. “I don’t know what I would have done without Child & Family. They were a huge support system for me. I could call them at any point even if it was about something small. They really got me through some of the emotional parts of being a foster parent.”
“I don’t think foster parents (in general) get enough support. We’re (foster parents) set up for failure from the beginning,” she says. The goal is to always work towards reuniting children with their families which means that we must work closely with the biological parents or other family members, but sometimes this can be difficult for the children and for the foster parent as well, she explains.
This process is complex and has a lot of moving parts. Many foster parents aren’t aware of the resources that are available to help them cope with children who are disappointed that they missed visitation with their parents, “emotional let-downs, sadness, confusion,” Kristy continues. “I was lucky to have Child & Family assist me with helping the children overcome behavioral issues that they suffered as a result of their confusion and sadness.”
Child & Family is committed to Family Preservation, following the children wherever they go, and once the determination of where they are going to be placed is made, the organization supports that home. In Kristy’s case, it was hers.
In the beginning, Olivia and Billy had very different needs, Kristy explains. Olivia, for example had issues with trust “but she trusted the people we worked with at Child & Family.” The consistency in the supportive help Kristy received from Functional Family Therapy and the Family Stabilization Program enabled Kristy to establish the trust and bond with her niece and nephew. This also assisted them transition into their new home by developing skills to help them cope and begin to improve family dynamics.
According to Kristy, Olivia went from being a timid and indecisive child to one who now takes action and is happy. She only wore black and brown and was failing school. “Last year she passed with high honors, and now she’s thriving and looking at the future with strength.” With the help of Child & Family, Kristy also learned how to support Billy who, according to Kristy was very shy and withdrawn. “Child & Family helped Billy learn how to use assertive statements and “I feel statements” which Kristy could support at home. “Within 6-8 months of receiving therapy, Billy learned how to find his inner voice and express his needs and wants.”
“If you’re going to be a family member that’s going to foster, you must learn that this is about the children, not making the adults feel better. I am so thankful that I had Child & Family at my side while I was going through this process. There are times that I still wish I could call to discuss things with them and share all the positive news,” Kristy says.