There is a great need for the work Uspiritus does

By Abbreial Drane, CPA, MBA
Uspiritus President/CEO

Sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves why we do the work we do and just how many children need our help. The following is from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services describing foster care:

When children have experienced abuse or neglect and must be separated from their parents or other relatives, they are most often placed in the temporary and safe care of approved foster parents.

While children are in temporary foster care, the main goal of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is to reunify them with their birth parents as soon as the parents have received services to provide a safe and stable home. While working toward the goal of reunification, the child’s worker will complete a relative search and possibly place the child with relatives. The main focus is for children to have a permanent home, where they can be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

In some cases, children may not be able to be reunified with their parents or placed with relatives. The courts may terminate the parents’ rights and legally free the child for adoption. In many cases, foster parents choose to become the permanent and legal adoptive parents of children who have been in their foster homes. A temporary situation (foster care) then becomes a step forward to a permanent and lifelong commitment (adoption).

Why are children placed in foster care?

  • Some birth parents simply aren’t able to give appropriate physical and emotional care or appropriate supervision.
  • Some parents and some children can’t control their behaviors.
  • Some families have temporary crises, like health problems or loss of income and housing.
  • Some parents have serious parenting problems because of drug abuse, mental illness or other conditions.
  • Some birth parents voluntarily place their children for adoption.

How many Kentucky kids need foster care services? More than 7,500 children are currently in CHFS foster care and more than 900 of those children are in residential care. Last year, more than 700 children in CHFS foster care were adopted and more than 80 percent were adopted by their foster families.

Uspiritus is doing great work for children across the state with foster care, residential placements, family preservation and outpatient care services. There are many children who need our help. I’m glad children have a safe place like Uspiritus to help heal their hearts and minds.

Small steps result in big changes for a family

By Slim Nash
Director of Community Based Services, Western Kentucky

It is the time of year when many of us have made wonderful New Year’s resolutions and already shifted our focus to other things, allowing our hopes for change to fall by the wayside.

Often when we think about change, we think about the major changes we hope for and fail to recognize the small steps we have taken along the way that are still leading us toward our goals.

The case managers with the Family Preservation, Reunification and Diversion programs work daily to help families make changes and encourage them to notice the strengths they do have and the small steps they are taking toward their goals.

Recently, one of our case managers has been working with a family that is currently living in a motel in a very confined space. The single mother and her daughter have been referred to the program for assistance in obtaining more permanent housing and to increase the positive interactions between parent and child. These are big goals for a four-week intervention, but the case manager recently received the following feedback from his client:

“Someone must have switched children on me because this one looks like [my child] but is being very sweet.”

“Wait until you see how much better our room looks; so much better and we did it together!”

The case manager believes the operative word in the latter statement is “together.” The change occurred when Mom realized that being an Authoritarian or Permissive parent does not work. She became an Active Parent by utilizing empathy (listening to her child, allowing her child to participate in decisions, etc., and having consistent rules and fair consequences).

Recently, the case manager told the mom that her way of communicating was exacerbating her child’s anger. A few days later, Mom told him, “I never realized that I was whiny until you mentioned it. You’re a [explicative] genius!”

Today, the family is still living in a motel but has plans to move into assisted housing soon. They are confined in a small space that can hinder even the best relationships, but they have hope for their relationship and a commitment to improve it together. While the surface situation may appear the same to others, they have taken some very important small steps toward big change.