KidsPeace Vineland, NJ, Foster Care Office Seeking Foster Parents
KidsPeace Foster Care and Community Programs opened a new office in Southern New Jersey in late January 2009. The FCCP office is located in the town of Vineland in Cumberland County, New Jersey. The Vineland office places foster children in treatment homes not only in Cumberland County but also Atlantic, Cape May, Gloucester, and Salem Counties.
The office is in a rural area of Vineland between Atlantic and Cumberland counties and is surrounded by farmland and woods. There is a middle school near by, and the downtown area is only fifteen minutes away. The Vineland office employs one Family Resource Specialist and will soon be hiring a casework supervisor and a part time nurse.
The Vineland program is working closely with KidsPeace Orchard Hills Campus to try to find appropriate homes for children from South Jersey who have been placed in KidsPeace residential treatment. The hope is that children can return to their home communities as quickly as possible. In particular, our Family Resource Specialist, Deborah Bontcue, is currently working hard to place two children from our main campus in Pennsylvania who have been referred for placement to the Vineland Office. One child is a fifteen-year-old African-American female who enjoys singing, dancing, and watching Disney movies. She is looking for a forever family to talk with her, go shopping and have fun together. There is a family that has been matched with her, and they are currently waiting to be licensed by the State. The other child who is in need of a treatment home placement is an eighteen-year-old male who enjoys arts and crafts and helping others and is very warm and kind.
The Vineland FCCP continues to look for loving, nurturing and patient families to care for older children with therapeutic needs in South Jersey. The program is not only looking for families for children from our main campus in Pennsylvania, but also for the many children in foster care in South Jersey who are looking to have a family to call their own. If you are interested in getting more information or know someone who would be a fabulous treatment parent, please contact the KidsPeace FCCP Vineland Program:
345 N. Lincoln Avenue
Ste. A2, Box 12
Vineland, NJ 08361
June 22nd was a beautiful day in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, and 159 community members, business people and KidsPeace associates came out to play golf and support the KidsPeace Children's Fund. This was the tournament's 24th year, and the number of golfers broke all records. The event was held at the Lehigh Country Club, and the accommodations were wonderful. Golfers were served lunch and dinner and had the opportunity to bid on great items in the silent auction. Awards were given out during the dinner that followed. Congratulations to the winning foursome of Nicholas Lukow, Michael Bednar, Wayne Sigler and Patrick McNealis. The event raised $104,000 for the KidsPeace Children’s Fund, which will be used to purchase items directly for our kids. Thanks to all who participated, the many volunteers who helped before and during the tournament and to the many local businesses that sponsored various aspects of the tournament and kindly donated time and funds to the cause. Our 25th annual tournament promises to be filled with surprises and special recognition of the many people who have helped this event be successful for a quarter century.
Teacher Meta Cadugan from the CDTRC School on our Bethlehem, PA, Campus got her students involved in “Pennies for Peace” by having them read Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson. They also watched videos on the organization’s Web site and became excited about helping children on the other side of the world. The students of classroom 209 organized their campaign to collect pennies for schools and supplies for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan who have little opportunity for education. The KidsPeace students decorated coffee cans and made posters to encourage other students and staff members to contribute to their cause and also conducted research into the education systems in the two countries. They learned that girls in those countries are often not able to attend school, but that Pennies for Peace worked hard to educate both girls and boys. They also learned that a penny can purchase a pencil in those countries, and $20 can pay for a child’s school supplies for a full year.
During the month of May, each classroom collected pennies for the campaign, which is directed by the Central Asia Institute. Since 1996, the institute has built nearly 100 schools that teach 14,000 boys and 14,000 girls. Classroom 203 collected the greatest number of pennies, and the school raised $80 in total. This project turned out to cross over from a social studies lesson to a math class when the students had to count out and roll all of the pennies. The pennies were exchanged for a check at the business office, and the children sent the check off to Pennies for Peace. It was a source of great pride for the students.
This was written by a former KidsPeace foster child whom we will call Jenn.
I remember dangling by my seatbelt dazed and confused. It was about 9pm on a very cold and dark winter's night. I hung there for a second trying to figure out exactly what just happened. I knew I shouldn't have gotten in the truck. She reeked of alcohol, and her eyes were glazed over. I even waited a second thinking to myself I really shouldn't get in the car, but how is this different from any other day? I got in and pulled my seatbelt tight, I even looked over to make sure she had hers on. After 10 minutes, I could tell this time I might not be so lucky, and I was right.
I climbed out of the truck now lying on its side and stared at a pile of snow in the drivers seat suffocating my mother. The next house was 300 yards away, and there wasn't a car in sight. I had a decision to make: leave her, risking her suffocation and get help or dig her out myself. I don't know what drove me to dig her out. She almost killed me! But I did and after many empty apologies from my mother, an ambulance arrived to take me to the ER for an evaluation.
On arrival [to the ER], I was greeted by a police officer to whom I told my story. I was very honest. I told him everything, hoping that this was finally my way out of the unwholesome life I now lived. Someone was going to see that living with my mother was not a good idea. This was the moment I was waiting for. It was my way out, or so I thought. The moment passed, but that was all it was ... a moment. Nothing ever came of our discussion.
Eventually, my home life became worse. My mother was seeing a man who became physically and emotionally abusive towards me. I became depressed, and the idea of school just didn't sit with me. I just didn't have the energy to get myself out of bed and onto the bus. I was eventually put on pins and appointed a legal guardian whom I soon after asked how I could get out of my mother’s house and into somewhere better. Not long afterwards, I was to be placed into foster care. I was back and forth with the idea. My older sister was placed and had always complained about how things were done. I figured anywhere had to be better than home. I went through several foster homes. The first one didn't work, the second did for a little while, the third nope, the fourth nope again. I almost gave up hope.
Wasn't foster care supposed to put some stability in my life? I did try to look at the bright side though. I had 3 meals a day, a house with heat, electricity and water. Sometimes I even had Internet and cable, so it wasn't all that bad. I was missing one thing though … Love. Out of all the foster homes, I never felt like any of the foster parent truly loved or cared about me. I wanted someone to praise me when I did well in school, care when I got sick or cried, and someone to tell me that when I grow up I'm going to be something. For a long time I never thought I'd have that.
In November of 2004, that would all change. After once again getting taken out of a foster home because of my behavior, I was to temporarily stay with a family until KidsPeace could find me another. I could have cared less because nothing seemed to work out in my life anyway. When I talked to these people I was going to stay with, they seemed to be on the guard. I thought, "Oh great, they've already judged me." But after a couple days, it changed. I saw something different in them, and I think they saw something in me too. Soon after, I was told that they were to be my new foster parents. I was ecstatic but of course I wasn't going to let anyone know that.
I really grew to like my new foster parents. One thing I really liked was, when I asked them what I should call them, they responded "Mom and Dad." It made me feel a part of the family. They were by far the best foster parents I had had, but I wasn't about to get my hopes up. It was only a matter of time before I got mad and did something wrong or stupid. I stayed with one set of foster parents for year, and then they gave up on me. What makes Mom and Dad so different? I was by no means the perfect foster child, which they would soon figure out. I yelled, I screamed, I cussed, I threw stuff, broke stuff, skipped numerous days of school, snuck out of the house, put holes in their walls; I even copied dads key and took his car for a joyride.
I insulted them, their family and even their pets. Yet I didn't go anywhere. I figured that, at any moment, they would call up my caseworker and say "take her, we can't take it anymore, she’s just too much," but they never did. I put them through a year and a half of "hell," and they didn't give up on me. I finally found what I was I was hoping for. Parents who didn't think of me as a something they could just throw away when I became a burden. I, to them, was just another one of their kids, and, when I did finally realize this, I couldn't have been happier.
My caseworkers got it just as bad. I insulted and ignored them. I went through several of them, all of whom I liked (don't tell them that). I was at a point in my life where I just couldn't see how someone like them could understand what I was going through. There were many visits where I simply acted as if they weren't there. Why would I want to talk to them? How could they possibly understand? On several occasions I even snuck out of my bedroom window while they sat waiting in the living room for me. As badly as I treated them, though, I can honestly say that they didn't give up either. They were determined to show me they cared and could help. I was just too
bullheaded at the time to realize it.
I left foster care at the age of nineteen. I was determined to take on the world and leave the shackles of my past behind. When I left though, I didn't leave empty handed. I left with a new family. Wilma and Vince, a.k.a. Mom and Dad to this day are still there if I ever need them. Whenever I pick up the phone, they are both there waiting on the other end to answer. They are there to give me advice, teach me new things, feed me when I'm poor and sometimes even house me.
Another part of the family is KidsPeace. On my rare visits to see them, I've never been turned away or made to feel uncomfortable. They welcome me with open arms and a smile every time. I can walk into the office and ask to use them for a reference or a letter of recommendation, and I've never been denied.
You could have asked me 5 years ago “What do you like about foster care?" and I would have looked you dead in the eye and said very sarcastically,
"I don't know what is so great about foster care.” But I stand before you now, older and wiser, and I ask what is not great about foster care?" If it wasn't for foster, I don't believe I'd be where I am now. I'm eternally grateful and hope that the kids in foster now realize how great they have it. I would give anything to go back and do it all over again.
For over a year, there have been detours that made it challenging to drive to the KidsPeace Orchard Hills Campus in Orefield, PA. KidsPeace is happy to announce that the construction on Route 309 and Old Packhouse Road has been completed, and access to the campus is now direct and smooth. There is now a traffic light at the intersection of Old Packhouse Road and Route 309, and Old Packhouse Road is wider, smoother and less curvy. With the detour removed, visitors to KidsPeace have a shorter drive with much less traffic.
This is just one more reason for customers who have been planning to visit KidsPeace to schedule their visits now. Our Client Services Liaisons will be happy to take you on a tour of our facilities and give you the opportunity to speak with our clinical and educational staff members as you travel from unit to unit. The new road will also make it easier for parents to visit their children at KidsPeace and make driving in bad weather safer overall. Please schedule a visit by calling 800-8KID-123 and asking for a Client Services Liaison.
Jenny*, a twelve-year-old foster client of the South Bend, Indiana, office, had the desire to help other children who have been in her situation. Jenny had the idea of having a donation drive at her middle school. She approached her teacher, Ms. James*, as well as her KidsPeace Family Consultant, Cory Headley about her wonderful idea. After getting the reassurance needed from Cory, Jenny encouraged her fellow students to donate items such as hygiene products, school supplies, books and other supplies to KidsPeace in an effort to “help other foster kids like me,” Jenny said. As an incentive to raise donations, Matt Fischer, Family Resource Specialist, obtained donations from Krispy Kreme and Pizza King to award the classroom raising the most items with a pizza and doughnut party. The winning classroom alone donated over 600 items for KidsPeace. The South Bend, Indiana, KidsPeace Office is very grateful to Jenny for all of her heart and dedication to seeing her goal come to life.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
The 12th annual KidsPeace Soccer Invitational is rapidly approaching. On August 22 and 23, 2009, 100 teams will gather to participate in one of the most exciting tournaments of the summer. Teams ranging in age from under 9 to under 15 (boys and girls) and under 17 (girls) will compete for trophies and enjoy the beauty of the KidsPeace Orchard Hills campus in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. Each team will play a minimum of three games and have the opportunity to play against competitive teams from neighboring counties and states. There will be family activities throughout the weekend, with opportunities for camping and swimming. KidsPeace is located only 10 minutes from Dorney Park, and there are many interesting and fun activities in the area.
To download a registration form for your team and to learn more about the tournament, please visit our Soccer Invitational page. The registration deadline is July 20, and there is a limit on the number of teams that can participate.
Jan Sterba, a clinician who has worked with teens who have mental health, drug and alcohol use and abuse issues for 20 years, provides parents with valuable information about keeping your children safer. For many of us, the new technology of our children are so adept at using can be quite overwhelming. Our teens are now doing a great deal of their socializing through social networking sites on the Internet or text messaging with their cell phones to individuals they may have never seen. Although teens believe that they are immune to danger and that everyone on their social networks are being absolutely truthful in their posts, there are many individuals out there who want to exploit our children and introduce them to things that are dangerous and unhealthy. Although cell phones are great for staying in contact with friends and family, have you heard about sextexting? This is a practice of sending nude or semi-nude photos or videos using cell phones. The risk is that these photos can easily be sent to others and posted on the Internet where they can be viewed by anyone any time now or in the future. Teens can download videos to their IPods as well, which could contain provocative or pornographic images. Another frightening feature of the technology our teens employ is that it can be used to obtain drugs.
True Teen Stories:
"My cell phone was the most important tool for me to get drugs. I kept all of my drug dealers’ names in my phone book on my cell phone and I would sometimes put them under other names so nobody could find out.
"In the past, the Internet was a valuable resource for me when it came to drugs. I was always searching for new ways to get high."
"At the time, I was visiting a lot of chat rooms, meeting druggie guys, and they would IM me asking if I drank or got high. I didn’t think too much about giving them my cell phone number."
Did you know that one-third (33%) of 13-17 year olds and nearly half (48%) of 16-17 year olds report that their parents or guardians know "very little" or "nothing" about what they do on the Internet? Major media sources have been reporting about teen use of technology to obtain drugs and transmit inappropriate photos or videos, and many celebrities are being embarrassed by photos they sent to "just one person" that wind up on the Internet for all to view.
It is up to parents to monitor their children's Internet use and cell phone texting. Tips on how to keep track of and oversee your child's technology usage include:
• Limit your teen’s time spent online and put computers in a common area of the house where you can monitor what they are viewing or sending.
• Be clear and consistent about what is off limits. Make a list of the sites, games and chat rooms promoting drugs or sex. Inform them before they use the computer what the consequences will be if they violate the expectations of your home.
• Enforce the consequences. If you cannot enforce, then don’t make threats. The more meaningful the consequence to the teen, the more likely he or she will not break the rule. For example, if your teen is sextexting or emailing or texting someone you have deemed inappropriate, take the cell phone, computer or blackberry away for an extended time. You can also restrict use of these devices if they break curfew, smell of alcohol, smell of smoke or present as high on drugs. Remember, it is your home, you are paying for the phone or Internet access and you have the right and responsibility as a parent to establish rules and expectations.
• Learn about the digital devices your teen uses. The cell phone is a diary of what is going on in their life on a day-to-day basis. If you do not know how to explore this equipment, read the instruction manual or call customer service to request help from the service provider. As a parent, it is in your job to know what is going on with your children.
• Visit your teen’s Web site or personal blog. This will allow you to view the information your teen is sharing with others over the Internet. You can review pictures, video and music uploads, who the friends are and your teen's thoughts about drugs, sex and many other topics.
• Monitor your teen’s emails and Instant Messaging. You have a right to know with whom he or she is communicating on line. Ask who is on the phone and to see the Instant Messaging List. Do this on a regular basis as social networks are changing constantly.
• Remind your teen that the Internet is a public space. This means that anyone can review his or her sites, including a prospective employer, colleges and even predators. Take the time to talk to your teen about not posting personally identifiable information that could come back to haunt them later.
• Make sure your teen knows that everything on the “Web” is not necessarily legal. Alcohol, tobacco, illicit and prescription drugs are all marketed on the Internet, along with weapons, pornography and real-world sexual liaisons.
• Use technology to help monitor your teen. Go to MySpace.com or Facebook.com and set up your own account. Use text messaging to check in with your teen. If you teen has a camera phone, check photos he or she has received or sent regularly.
• If you suspect, then go the extra mile. Some of the technologies enable you to track the exact Web pages, blogs and message boards. Many of these same products have filtering devices that prevent teens from viewing inappropriate content.
It is the parent's responsibility to know what his or her child is doing and with whom. Teens need supervision and explicit rules to follow when using their computers and cell phones that will keep them safe now and in the future.
There was much media attention last week about a Bucks County, PA, woman who allegedly absconded with her 9 year old daughter, presumably used a co-worker's ID and money from an unknown source and called police stating that she and the child had been abducted. An "Amber Alert" had been issued for the daughter, and a nationwide search had begun for the mother and daughter. The pair was later found at Disney World in Florida, and the mother was taken into custody for identity theft and filing a false police report.
There has been much speculation about the woman's state of mind and the reason for her bizarre behavior, but little attention has been paid to the potential impact this event will have on the daughter who went along with her mother, presumably for a vacation to Orlando. KidsPeace Clinical Director Dr. Peter Langman says that this incident and the coverage it has had in the media has the potential to cause problems for the child. "A great deal depends on the maturity level this child has reached," Langman says. "It is unclear how much of this she understands and how much anxiety this causes her." Langman explained that the child may be confused and most likely does not understand the legal implications of what her mother has done. "A 9 year old child may not be mature enough to process the concepts of identity theft and false police reports and the consequences of these acts," according to Langman.
Langman explains that the child may not be able to internalize this information at her age, which would make it difficult for her to articulate in words what she is feeling. This could lead to acting out and an inability to put the incident behind her. Langman suggests that the child be watched carefully for changes in behavior. He says that the way her family responds to what has happened and the opportunities they give her to talk about it will directly affect how this young girl will come through this trauma.
Finally, the daughter's ability to deal with this event will depend a great deal on how the story is received by her schoolmates. "If her peers make fun of her or her mother's behavior, she may have a much harder time getting back to 'normal,'" Langman says. Some children may envy her noteriety and say unkind things to upset her. Her teachers will likely try to prevent other children from blowing this new-found fame out of proportion and from making the girl the center of attention and gossip. "If her friends and classmates rally around her, she will adjust much more easily and be able to put this incident behind her," Langman concludes.