Our 30 Days to Family® Specialist Patrick received the case of six-year-old Andrew when Andrew came into foster care due to physical abuse at the hands of his mother. At that time, five of Andrew’s relatives were known to Patrick. Patrick started looking for more family members right away. The day after Andrew came into care, a court hearing was held and Patrick attended. While there, he saw that a few of Andrew’s relatives had also attended, so he seized the opportunity to speak with them. Andrew’s maternal grandmother expressed a strong desire to care for Andrew. Both Andrew’s mother and grandmother gave Patrick the names of additional relatives. They did not know anything about the paternal side of Andrew’s family, though, except that Andrew’s father was in prison. Patrick kept digging and within seven days, he had found 84 more of Andrew’s family members. Patrick also called Andrew’s father, Mark. Although he had never met Andrew, Mark still felt obligated to help his son. Mark gave Patrick the name and phone number of his father, whom he had not spoken to in years. Before ending the conversation, Mark told Patrick that no one on his side of the family knew Andrew existed. Undaunted, Patrick called Mark’s father to tell him that, not only did he have a six-year-old grandson, but that his grandson needed his help. Andrew’s grandfather was surprised, to say the least, but still overjoyed to learn of this addition to his family. He offered to do whatever he could for Andrew. Now, Andrew is living with his doting maternal grandmother and visits with his paternal grandfather once a week! Without the help of 30 Days to Family, it is doubtful that Andrew ever would have met his paternal family.
Selena was only seven-years-old when she came into foster care due to severe neglect–Selena had missed months of school–and homelessness caused by her biological mother’s drug addiction. Selena had been in care for two years when the Coalition’s Extreme Recruitment® program received her case in late 2014. When our recruiter Edna got the case, she knew the names of nine of Selena’s relatives, including two siblings. Edna searched the Children’s Division file, court records, and the internet for more relatives. Eventually, she found 77 more, including four more siblings. One of those siblings was Schonda, who was married with four children of her own. Schonda, too, had suffered from their mother’s drug addiction and left the family as soon as she was old enough. When Edna called her, Schonda immediately volunteered to help. She started spending a lot of time with Selena, taking her to the park and the movies. Soon she was trying to provide for Selena’s every need. Edna knew in her heart that Schonda’s family would be the perfect match for Selena. Edna also knew that with four children of their own already, Schonda and her husband would need some help.
One obstacle challenged their plan right away. Schonda’s husband had a warrant for unpaid speeding tickets totaling more than $900 in fines. A foster child cannot be placed with someone who has a warrant, but the family could not afford to pay the fees right away. Edna, known as The Closer, would not let this fine stand between Selena and her forever family. At Edna’s urging the Coalition’s Executive Director contacted a local law firm and persuaded them to help Schonda’s family pro bono. They were able to get the fines reduced to $600. The family could afford to pay $300. Again, not wanting $300 in fines to prevent Selena from being with her family, the Coalition paid the final $300. But Edna was still not done! She helped Schonda’s husband find a higher paying job so he could better provide for his growing family. In May of 2016, Selena was officially adopted by the Schonda and her husband and has four adoring siblings.
First-grader Derrick was suspended for 10 days because he kept running out of his classroom and school whenever he thought he was getting in trouble. Derrick’s foster parent called our Educational Advocate for help because she thought the school was misunderstanding Derrick’s behavior and motives. The foster parent confirmed that Derrick had come into foster care due to abuse and had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Advocate then met with the teacher, principal, and the School Resource Officer (SRO), the police officer who worked at the school. The Advocate also observed Derrick in school to determine where, when, and with whom these incidents were occurring. She noticed a definite pattern. Derrick got agitated during group restroom breaks. He would start pacing, breathing heavily, and balling his fists when he stood in the restroom line with the rest of his class. Based on her conversations with the school officials and what she learned from the observation, the Advocate determined that once Derick became agitated, he would then try to leave the bathroom, which the teacher would not allow. The principal and SRO would typically intervene outside the bathroom and be quite authoritative. This interaction would further alarm Derrick, triggering his fight or flight instinct.
The Advocate felt confident that these bathroom breaks were triggering Derrick to think about his previous abuse, which made him tense and want to leave. Then, when adult males tried to stop him from leaving, Derrick instinctively fled in order to protect himself. Once the Advocate explained this pattern to the school, they were quite willing to help create a plan to keep Derrick feeling safe and calm. They agreed that Derrick would no longer take bathroom breaks with his class, but instead would be escorted to the nurse’s office by the teacher’s aide of whom he was quite fond. The Advocate also helped the teacher and aide identify the early warning signs of Derrick’s anxiety and how to calm and support him. A couple of weeks later, the school and Derrick’s foster mother reported that Derrick’s elopement episodes had decreased dramatically, and everyone was feeling confident that Derrick would continue to progress.