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A Message to All of Our Foster Parents
By South Bend, IN, Staff

 This wonderful letter to foster parents appeared in the South Bend, IN, newsletter, but it is relevant to all foster parents, so we are copying it here.

…We would like to encourage each and every one of you as 2011 nears an end to take a moment, stop and enjoy the positive aspects of your lives. Enjoy the good times and try to let go of what is out of your control.

The changing seasons are like the changing times in Foster Care. The state is pushing for relatives to take children before they are placed in foster homes, and this is leaving a huge need for those most difficult to place children: our teenagers. KidsPeace is getting referrals for teenagers who have difficult behaviors. Some, unfortunately, have given up hope and give off a persona of no longer caring. Respect is something that, as foster parents, you may not feel you are getting from these children. The ability to consequence and hold children accountable may also become difficult with these children as they simply repeat the words, “I don’t care…what are you going to do about it?” It is in these difficult times that we need to pull together as a second family and support each other. We are getting difficult children who need loving, encouraging, uplifting foster parents to keep them safe and lead by example. We want these children to be part of a functional family unit and witness what healthy relationships are all about. Trust us when we say the children in your homes, regardless of their actions, are impacted by what you do for them on a daily basis. It is vitally important that these teens have a support system they can count on -- someone dependable who will not give up on them as so many may have done in their past.

What we want each of you to hear and understand is that we know you are in a difficult situation. We are giving you difficult children. We expect you to set up limitations for these children and hold them accountable for their actions with a firm and loving therapeutic discipline style. We expect all of this and still want more from you. What we want, what we need is for each of you to take a clear and intimate look at your lifestyle and determine if you have the ability to work with these teenage children we are getting. There may be times when you feel hopeless. There may be times when you feel there are no other options because the children break curfew, or leave the house without permission, or break the very rules we set to keep them safe. The truth is some of these children are going to break these rule regardless of where they are living. What we want from you, what we need from you, what the children need is for you not to give up on them. Even if you are feeling helpless and feel you are unable to enforce the rules you set, we need you to commit to working through these hard times. You may face times when you think you are not getting through to these children and that they will never listen; but your are helping by not giving up. Be that person who stops and says, “This behavior is not acceptable, and I know that your are capable of doing better, but nothing you do will make me want you to leave this home.” Be that person who changes the pattern of these children going from home to home. If you don’t do this, who will? Examine what you are capable of doing and ask yourself, “Can I love these children with everything I have, give them every opportunity to succeed and take them back time and again if they fail?” KidsPeace will be here to help you. So, the next time you are looking at the negative behaviors a child may have or are hesitant to take a teenager due to the fears of what may come, remember that everything has a silver lining. Each child brings something special, and each child has something that will impact your life in a positive way. Take a chance by taking one of our teenagers who need you. Someone has to step up and help these children. We think each and every on of you has the ability to do this. Love a teenager enough, care enough to think big and be that special person in a teen’s life who says, “I am not giving up on you.”

Foster Care Associate Reaches Milestone in Merrillville, IN
Program Manager of FCCP Jen Brown from Merrillville, IN, was thrilled to tell us about a great accomplishment by Family Resource specialist Kim Daley who just licensed her 100th foster family. This is a large career milestone, so we all send our congratulations to Kim and thank her for her hard work in placing children in great foster homes.

South Bend News
• Arizona is on the honor roll and reading at grade level
• Nathan has decreased his behaviors of defiance and anger
• Dianna made the step team at her high school
• Stuart is doing great in 5th grade
• Andrew and Emma are excited and anticipating adoption
• Sarah is in the drama club and has a part in the Christmas play

The foster parents of the quarter are Myron and Kim. They have worked with a medically fragile placement and ensured the child’s safety, going above and beyond their trainings and working through difficult medical situations and sticking with the child despite the difficulties. They also have a previous placement who has returned to their home, and they are supporting her in court and other areas. They promised to never give up on this child and live that promise every day regardless of what occurs.

• A reminder to constantly supervise what your foster children are watching on television. Set passwords for certain programs and for ordering movies so that your foster children do not run up your cable bill.
• Remember that every foster home must have a working carbon monoxide detector unless it is totally electric. We will be looking for these detectors during our home inspections.

Changes that will occur in January 2012 include:
• The State Department of child services will be dictating per diems for every foster parent regardless of your contracting agency.
• It is DCS policy to place in the homes of relatives if possible, and to use county foster homes as the second alternative.
• DCS is making every attempt to get children out of residential facilities and into less restrictive care whenever possible, meaning that more difficult kids are entering the foster care system.
Praise for Family Case Manager in South Bend
Program Manager Nancy Klopfenstein sent us an email from Family Case Manager Joan Evans from DCS in St. Joseph County about Family Consultant Cory Headly from our South Bend, IN, FCCP office. According to Joan’s email, she very much appreciates Cory’s assistance on an particularly difficult case. Joan noted that Cory had helped her in a case that became more complex over a tow-month period. She stated that no matter how intense the case became, Cory was “always available, professional and focused on the best interest of the child.” This is high praise from a customer, and we all congratulate Cory on her great work.

More Praise for FCCP IN Staff
Nancy Klopfenstein also sent us an email sent to KidsPeace praising the efforts of Tami Maire from the South Bend, IN, office. Family Case Manager Angela Whittaker from Indiana Department of Child Services wrote to compliment Tami on work with a very challenging child. She says that Tami “is consistently there to provide support and encouragement to the foster parents, attend meetings and assist in coming up with solutions. She does an excellent job of staying in contact with DCS and informing me of situations involving the child.”

Congratulations to Tami for her hard work and attention to this and all of her other cases.

South Bend Holiday Party and Recognition
On December 15, 2011 the South Bend office hosted an open house for foster families and foster children (the biological children of the foster parents were welcomed) to celebrate Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Claus were there for the children to visit. We asked families to bring in canned goods so that the families and children could be apart of giving back. The food items were donated to the local food pantry. The South Bend office received a $250 donation specifically for the party and one of the foster mothers, Tammy Baletine, gathered "goodie bags" from her co-workers and friends to give to the foster children. At the South Bend office, there are currently 85 children in care and 72 licensed foster families, so all the donations were very much appreciated. Snacks and drinks were provided at the open house.

Program Manager Nancy Klopfenstein sent a big “Shout Out” to the following family consultants: Mandy Ballge, Cindy Calhoun, Dawn Harris, Cory Headley, Kristie Jacobsen, Tami Maier and Lucia Taylor as well as the family consultant supervisors: Stacie Bert and Emily Magagula who have worked extra hours above their normal duties to help make our new programs successful. In addition to our therapeutic foster care services, we were awarded a contract on July 1, 2011, to do community-based services including: Homemaker/Parent Aid services. Family Preparation for Special Needs Adoptions, Supervised Visitation and Child Preparation for Adoption. The office has received more than 20 referrals and is currently providing over 100 hours of these services a month. As stated these hours are in addition to our associates’ daily responsibilities. Nancy is very proud of the staff and want to recognize their hard work and efforts.

South Bend at the Zoo
Program Manager Nancy Klopfenstein reports that, on October 21, 22 and 23rd, the South Bend KidsPeace office had a booth at Zoo Boo at Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, IN. Three staff members dressed up and passed out candy as well a literature about the need for foster parents. The attached pictures below show, Jennifer Cygert and Matthew Fischer, both Family Resource Specialists, dressed up all ready to promote KidsPeace. Zoo Boo is an annual event allowing children and their parents to trick and treat while walking through the Zoo. Numerous vendors attended and passed out candy as well as information about their businesses. KidsPeace has had a presence there for several years. It is a fun way to promote the need for foster families.

Muncie zoo

Muncie Foster Care Billboard Recognized
The Muncie FCCP office was notified recently by one of its billboard vendors, Eagle Advertising, that a KidsPeace "Think Big" billboard posted in Madison & Grant counties last fall won a 1st place national award from the Eight-Sheet Outside Advertising Association (eight-sheet is the size of the smaller billboards we've advertised on). Program Manager Jodi Reinke will be receiving a plaque and additional details on the criteria used to assess the ad, which will be forwarded to Creative Services Manager Shawn Parker who designed the winning billboard. Congratulations to Shawn and to the Muncie office for this positive recognition.

Muncie Foster Care News
The Muncie FCCP office is always busy and sends great news stories to “Community.” The office hosted its annual Foster Parent Reception that featured a light dinner, cake and lots of recognition. After the dinner, a local detective from the Anderson Police Department gave a presentation/training on prescription drug abuse. The Model of Care winners were Juanita McClung for Dignity, Steve and Angie Finney for Safety, Carlos Blanchard and Josh Vigar for Relationships and Belonging, Kemper and Julie Smith for Empowerment, Rob and Stefanie Harper for Character and George and Irma Drumm for Transformation. Additionally, Eric and Chandra Ford and Frank and Terri Hicks were recognized for 5 years of service and Mike and Lisa Cline, Juanita McClung and Steve and Angie Finney received plaques for 10 years as foster parents.

Some achievements by the foster kids placed by our Muncie office:

• Amir graduated from Head Start
• Casey has a part-time job and is saving money for a car
• Draven is now able to dress himself
• E’Maree graduated from Daisy to Brownie
• Haleigh is doing a great job feeding herself
• Jesse is wearing his glasses and rolling from his side to his back
• Jordan is adjusting well
• Koltyn is an awesome singer
• Madelyn is feeding herself
• Matthew graduated from speech therapy
• Reanne completed cheer camp
• Taylor has his license and is driving

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