Kevinee Gilmore talks fashion, foster care and making a difference: Fashion Flash (photos, video)

By Allison Carey, The Plain Dealer
Kevinee Gilmore, 33, Cleveland
Digital activist behind her HashtagFosterCare campaign, landlord, public speaker, social media consultant and trainer for foster and adoptive parents.

I grew up in foster care. I was in 13 different homes. I think foster kids are looked down upon; at least that was my experience. It shapes your entire life. At 18 years old I was out of foster care with nowhere to live so I went to Cleveland State and lived in a dorm. I never thought I was smart enough for college but my social worker suggested it. I got a degree in social work. Fifty-four percent of kids in foster care don't have a high school diploma. They often do that on purpose so that they don't get put out of foster care. On my 18th birthday I was in court getting emancipated while other kids were having graduation parties.
After college:
In 2007, with the help of a social worker who is still in my life, I got an internship on Capital Hill working for John Kerry's office and then I got the opportunity to work in Hillary Clinton's office. I lived in a dorm at Catholic University. I was in a program called the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. It helps foster youth get internships in a senator's office with the goal of getting the foster youth to get the senators to sign off on child welfare bills. After that, I began taking classes toward a master's degree.

Foster mom seeks donations to help teens in foster care buy school clothes


A local foster parent is partnering with S.A.F.E., a Franklin company that supports foster families, to have a gift card drive for Williamson County teenagers in foster care.
The drive is called “Teens Dress for Success.”

“We want our teens to buy their own clothes and get to shop and live like normal teens,” said Julie Sutton, a foster mother partnering with S.A.F.E for the project. “What we’re trying to do is get VISA and MasterCard gift cards. We’re trying to get at least $100 in gift cards for each teen. The deadline is July 25 because we’d like to get them to the kids so they can shop before school starts.”

Sutton says that teenagers are generally left out, so the card drive was a special way to honor them.'

To read more on this story Click Here.

Fostering Success program helps young professionals who grew up in foster care

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - Children who are raised in the foster care system sometimes lack the exposure and foundation needed to succeed in life, but a summer program at Barry University is working to help that.
Fostering Success is a two-week program at the Barry University School of Social Work.    

"I was placed in the foster care system at 13," Renee DuPont, who is studying to be a nurse practitioner, said. "I was in seven different foster care homes or group homes. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good."

DuPont has been determined not to let her time in foster care affect her dream of become a nurse practitioner.
She is one of 12  young professionals from Tallahassee who were once in the foster care system and who are now spending two weeks at Barry University's School of Social Work for the summer program.
"We have been working on self-care, conflict resolution, resume and cover letter writing -- anything that will help them," Tatum Drazen, director of Fostering Success, said. To read more on this story Click Here.

RHS grad helps foster care kids

19-year-old former foster child and 2016 Ridgefield High School graduate wants to help those going through what she’s experienced over the years.

That’s why Grace Burns did a fund-raiser for Together We Rise, a national organization focused on helping children in the foster care system.

“I used to be a foster kid and I really wanted to contribute back,” she told The Press.
All the money Grace raised — over $1,000 — went toward buying suitcases for children in foster care, so they could put their belongings there — instead of the black trash bag they’re usually given when it’s time to move.

Grace’s mom, Kristen Burns, has made fostering one of her life’s missions and maintains relationships with her foster children even after some of them are reunited with their families.
“She [Grace] knew that some kids are taken out of their parents’ homes suddenly and they throw all their stuff in a black garbage bag,” said Kristen.

“That’s the most common way that kids have to transport their stuff from home to home; sometimes they go to shelters first or group homes and it’s not very dignified — many kids who were foster kids complained about that feeling of just having a black trash bag,” she said. To read more on this story By Ivanha Paz Click Here.

Kansas Foster Care Contractor Sees Benefits Of Trauma-Informed Training

By Meg Wingerter

The foster care system I
n Kansas has problems, but a national child welfare group sees one area where it could lead the way for other states.

Tracey Feild, director of the child welfare strategy group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said work on childhood trauma by KVC Kansas, one of the state’s two foster care contractors, could be a model for others. The Casey Foundation sponsors the annual Kids Count report and other child-focused research.

KVC partnered with Child Trends, a nonpartisan national research group, to find out if training foster parents and caseworkers about childhood trauma would result in fewer moves for foster children. Childhood trauma includes experiences such as such as being exposed to violence, experiencing economic hardship or living with parents or guardians who abuse alcohol or drugs, are mentally ill or served time in prison.

KVC and Child Trends found that if adults understood the effects of traumatic events, children were more likely to stay in one home during their time in foster care. Children working with better-trained adults also were observed to have better behavior.

7 Foster Care Skills You Need Before Becoming a Foster Parent

Regardless of what we would like to believe, being a foster parent is a tough job. Over 400,000 children in the USA enter foster care every year. Even before studying the laws governing foster care in your region, you should examine yourself to determine whether or not you are ready to become a foster parent. Do you really understand how foster care program works? If you lack any of these skills, you can take the time to develop them before going ahead to adopt a child. Here are 7 skills you need before becoming a foster parent:

#1 — Patience
Patience is one of the most important skills in foster parenting. Your friends, kids and even wife might not exactly understand your decision or may not offer sufficient support. The new child will be starting a new life, and it might be considerably different from what he or she was used to. Your house already has its culture and rules, and the child will need to take some time to understand them. Some will even need more time to appreciate the new schedules. If you have no support from your own family, you will have to exercise your patience even more.
In many cases, children who end up in foster care have a history of physical or emotional abuse. This greatly affects their capacity to communicate and also influences their overall self-esteem. Many foster fathers have unrealistic expectations that the child will be very happy to be in your home since their previous family was abusive. However, this is rarely the case since these kids are already used to the abuse.
As the foster father, you will need to understand the situation and dedicate yourself to providing unconditional love to the child.
#2 — Communication Skills
As stated earlier, children in foster care usually lack self-esteem, given their past. Talking to you about their lives can be a form of therapy and will do a lot to help them grow into emotionally strong people. As a foster father, you should be able to encourage children to talk, even when the subject is not very pleasant. Some kids have trouble communicating because of conditions such as autism. Proper skills will help you understand the form of communication appropriate for such young ones.
Good communication skills will also help you get your family through a potentially difficult time raising a foster child. At the end of the day, you will experience emotional fulfillment from the whole activity.
#3 — Proper Disciplining Skills
In general, children communicate through behavior and actions. Just like all other children, foster kids need to be taught proper behavior so that they can grow up into responsible adults. In many places, it is illegal to discipline children by inflicting physical pain. This includes having them perform exercises because of their wrong actions. That form of punishment has also been identified as less effective ways of instilling discipline in children.
#4 — Be a Team Player
Raising a foster child is not a one-man activity. If you have a wife, you have to work with her to raise the child. When you fail or have no idea what to do, your wife and friends should be there to help you out. You also have to be in constant contact with the child’s birth family.
In many places, foster parents have to engage with social workers continuously. During the meetings, you will exchange ideas on how to best raise your foster child, and knowing how to participate in these activities will help you manage your kid properly.
#5 — Adaptability
Men who quickly adapt to different situations will find it easier to be foster parents. The child might have medical and emotional issues, which could disrupt your regular routine. You may end up having to drop many social functions and events because of your new commitment. Are you ready and capable of changing your schedules at the last minute to attend to your foster child? If your response is in the affirmative, then you are well placed to be a foster parent.
Over time, you will also develop a bond with the child. Again, being a flexible man will help you say goodbye when the time comes for the child to leave your home.
#6 — Motivation and Energy
Foster children are not always easy to deal with. In fact, because of what they might have gone through in the past, they are likely to be very difficult to handle. Many times, you will have to move swiftly in order to diffuse a situation with your foster child. Although the laws don’t provide for an upper age limit of foster parents, it is important to evaluate your energy levels before making a decision to adopt a child.

Otherwise, you will burn out and lose the child quickly. It might also become too stressful for you, and can even potentially affect your health. If you don’t have the capacity to handle stressful kids, there isn’t really a need to subject yourself to the pressure.
#7 — Ability to Show Love to Children
Kids in foster care often have a history of love depravity, and this often affects their behavior and emotional state. Knowing how to show them your love and appreciation will go a long way in correcting the wrongs in their past. This will help them grow up into responsible adults. A warm personality and a capacity to know what to say to your child will make them feel loved and appreciated.
Taking care of such children is a sacrifice, and the only thing that will keep you going when things get tough is a wealth of love. With the ability to show love to children, you will naturally know how to become a foster parent.
Becoming a foster father can be a fulfilling experience. It will change the life of a child, and teach you many lessons regarding kids and life in general. However, taking care of foster children is a hard job. So, what do you need to become a foster parent?
Typically, parents with the above skill sets have an easier time filling this role. If you lack any of the skills, you should take the time to learn. Some people even advise to first gain some experience taking care of children before deciding to take the role of foster parenting. Once you feel capable of handling the task, you should go through the local laws to learn the steps to becoming a foster parent.

By Patrick Watt of The Good Men Project.


Alabama's foster children finding better outcomes than national averages

                                              By William Thornton | 
The numbers for Alabama's child care services are good, when compared to national averages.
That's according to an Alabama-based consultant who once headed the state's Department of Human Resources as it sought to extricate itself from a federal court order.

Page Walley, of Casey Family Programs, gave a presentation Monday to the Governor's DHR Task Force in Montgomery, showing where Alabama ranks in terms of foster care services and outcomes nationally. The numbers were positive, but also showed areas for improvement.

The task force was created by Gov. Robert Bentley by an executive order earlier this year. The 9-member panel is tasked with analyzing "ways to improve the delivery of services by DHR." Bentley also gave the group a deadline of Jan. 15, 2016 to report any suggested changes to state law and departmental policies.

Walley was the state's DHR commissioner in 2008, when it was finally removed from federal court supervision. Prior to that, DHR had operated for 17 years under a consent decree which set in motion reforms to its child protective care system

Foster care nonprofit building $4.6 million outreach on Northlake

Place of Hope plans to open the Lane Outreach Center on Northlake Boulevard just east of its main campus by the end of 2018. It will use about half of the 18,000 square feet of office space in two buildings for its purposes and lease out the rest for professional office space by a tenant such as a lawyer or insurance company. Rendering provided by Place of Hope. To read more on this story Click Here.


Only 3% of foster care youth graduate college. Felicitas Reyes is one of them.

Photo: Vannessa Sanchez)

Only about 10% of former foster care youth will attend college, and only about 3% graduate, according to a California-based nonprofit dedicated to foster children.

But Felicitas Reyes is one of the few who have succeeded despite the very long odds.
“I’ve been very lucky,” Reyes told USA TODAY College.

Reyes just graduated from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she finished magna cum laude — no small feat for someone from her background.

Reyes says she had two major stints in foster care while growing up, spending about a year in foster care when she was five, and another two years in foster care while in grade school.
While Reyes was in foster care for a relatively short time — some spend their entire childhood in the system — she noted that even when she was back with her parents, social workers were a constant presence.

“I’ve been connected to social workers for most of my childhood,” she says. “But I’m lucky in that I’ve always been connected to my family. I’ve never felt abandoned or unloved.”
Read more on this story ,Click Here.

You Paid For It:

Story By Mark Douglas

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The executive director of Eckerd Kids told a room full of child welfare advocates assembled in Tampa on Tuesday that her private agency is working its way out of a $2.3 million deficit and improving the $73 million publicly-funded foster care program that you paid for in Hillsborough County.

“We have a lot of people in training and we have recently increased retention rates as well,” said Jodi Grutza. That can’t happen soon enough. Performance data released Monday by Eckerd Kids indicates that a third of foster care caseworkers in Hillsborough County have caseloads of 26 kids or more. There’s also been a 58 percent turnover rate for caseworkers during the past 12 months. The number of foster kids neglected or abused while in Eckerd’s Hillsborough foster care system is in the “red zone.”
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