Giving Tuesday

August 20th

#GivingTuesday is Tuesday, November 28. Find out more about this 24-hour, special opportunity to make 2X impact, click here.

Uncategorized Archives • Upbring

0

Waiting Children – Bulgaria | August

Upbring International Adoption – the primary provider facilitating adoptions from Bulgaria – partners with New Beginning Association, a foundation accredited by the Bulgarian government, to find loving and compassionate adoptive families for children living in Bulgarian orphanages.

 

Meet the children currently waiting to find their forever homes:

 

AIDEN, PENELOPE AND ZOEY

 

 

AMARA

 

 

AVA

 

 

CORA

 

 

ISLA

 

 

JASPER

 

 

JULIAN

 

LUCY

 

 

MADELINE

 

 

MEGAN

 

 

POSIE

 

 

SILAS

 

 

STACEY

 

 

VINNY

 

If you would like to find out more about children available for adoption in Bulgaria, contact Upbring International Adoption by emailing [email protected]. You may also call 800-396-4611 and ask to speak to our International Adoption team.

6

Announcement of New CEO

Upbring CEO, Dr. Kurt Senske, announces plan to step down in 2020 after nearly 25 years with the organization

The Austin-based nonprofit names current President and COO Michael Loo as Senske’s successor.

AUSTIN, TX – May 8, 2019 – Dr. Kurt Senske announced that he will step down as chief executive officer of Upbring, effective December 31, 2019.  Senske has served the organization for almost 25 years, 22 of those as chief executive officer. Michael Loo, currently the agency’s president and chief operating officer will succeed Senske and hold the title of president and CEO.

“On behalf of the Upbring Board of Directors, I want to thank Kurt for his remarkable leadership as CEO,” said Upbring Chairman of the Board Sig Cornelius. “Kurt oversaw the evolution of the organization’s rebranding from Lutheran Social Services of the South, refocusing on its origins in child welfare. Kurt’s passion for Upbring’s mission to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities is evident to all who know him, and he has served the organization exceptionally well.”

During Senske’s two-plus decades of service, he helmed the organization while it more than tripled in size. Upbring’s significant growth has made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of children and families each year throughout the state of Texas as well as in parts of Louisiana.

An innovative trailblazer inside the child welfare and education arenas, Loo joined Upbring in 2013 as chief financial officer before his promotion to the role of president and COO in 2015. Loo has broad experience in areas ranging from strategic planning and operations to technology and finance. Under his operational direction, Upbring programs have experienced exponential growth with the current trajectory showing great promise to lead to systemic change in child welfare and social services.

“While Michael’s professional skills and talents led him into the business and industry sector, his passion for helping families, inspired by his love and dedication for his wife and three children, called him to his current role in the nonprofit sector,” Cornelius said. “We are profoundly grateful for the leadership Michael has already brought to the organization through his innovative strategies and growth of operations. We are fortunate to have an exceptional visionary in Michael to take the organization into the next decade and beyond.”

Prior to joining Upbring, Loo spent more than 25 years in business operations roles, 20 years of which were in higher executive management positions such as executive vice president and chief financial officer. He has held these positions in complex organizations that range from start-ups to large corporations. He formerly served as vice president of finance and administration of Kamehameha Schools, a private, multibillion-dollar endowed trust that was the largest private commercial, residential and agricultural real estate landholder and private school system in the State of Hawaii. He also spearheaded the initial public offering efforts of Sopogy, Inc., a technology provider in the micro concentrated solar power sector and was vice president – controller and treasurer in the restructuring of Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

Senske and Loo will continue to work closely together and with Upbring’s senior leadership team to provide for a seamless transition and ensure the organization’s strong momentum continues.

 

About Upbring

Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s wellbeing: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

0

What You Need to Know About Fostering Siblings

Each day, children who have experienced abuse and neglect enter the foster care system. The need for loving, compassionate and patient foster parents is evident. But, what might not be so obvious is the need for foster parents who provide for a specific population of children in foster care, such as sibling groups. Research has shown that siblings placed in foster homes together often feel more secure and can help each other adjust to their new family and community. We sat down with foster parent Hannah* to discuss the rewards and complexities that come with fostering sibling groups.

 

Hannah has worked for Upbring for almost five years, several of which she spent as a caseworker for Foster In Texas. After much thoughtful consideration and prayer, Hannah and her husband decided to begin their foster journey. Not too long after their training was complete, and licensing was approved, they received a call and chose to accept not one child, but two young sisters into their home.

 

Why is it important to keep siblings together?

There are so many reasons why we should all focus on keeping siblings together. I can’t imagine the trauma of being removed from your home and everyone you know. That alone is a significant event for any child. Beyond that, imagine getting into a car with a stranger and watching your sibling get into a different car. You both drive off, and you have no idea where either of you is headed. The security of knowing where one of your loved ones is has a profound impact when experiencing hard things. My girls have a significant connection. In the beginning, as they were getting to know us, they found comfort in each other. The older sister would watch her little sister fall asleep each night refusing to sleep herself until she knew her sister was safe and sleeping. To this day, after living with us for seven months, if they are ever apart, they constantly ask about each other. They comfort and teach each other daily.

 

Are there any additional requirements to be approved to foster siblings?

Not at all. Just let your agency or caseworker know you are interested in more than one child and they will make sure your license reflects that.

 

What if we don’t have the ability to foster a sibling group? What will happen to the other siblings?

It is my understanding that keeping siblings together will always be a top priority for Child Protective Services and foster care placement agencies. If all options are exhausted and that is not possible, then the children might be placed in separate homes. Again, this only happens after all other options have been exhausted. Even after placing them in separate homes, if a home that will accommodate all siblings is later found, then the children could be moved to that home instead.

 

How can we help siblings stay connected if they are in different foster families?

If a sibling set is separated, it’s not a matter of how you can help but more of a requirement of the state. CPS will likely require sibling visits. Creating positive relationships with the biological family and the other foster families is helpful. Sometimes the use of technology is available depending on the age of the child and circumstances of the case. Facetime, texting and phone calls can be a great aid to maintaining connection.

 

Will fostering siblings mean extra meetings, appointments and family visits?

Typically, the siblings will share family visits with their bio family. Most of the time CPS can make sure that meetings and appointments required in their services apply to all siblings. When it comes to medical appointments or appointments with schools or teachers, each child will have their own scheduled times, although many doctors will make sure you can do the appointments back to back or even all together at the same time!

 

What are the rewards and challenges that come with fostering siblings?

They are each individuals and have different needs. They require different parenting methods or redirections. They each have different motivators, personalities and schedules. It’s a challenge to get to know more than one child and learn the things that make them tick. The transition can be stark. Our family went from a family of two to a family of four overnight. There was a season where we were all figuring it out, learning each other, and setting boundaries, those things were hard; but, they were such a blessing too. The rewards of having our girls together are endless. There’s not much I wouldn’t do to preserve their love for each other and the connection they have. Their relationship helps me to understand who they are. When one can’t articulate an emotion, feeling or memory, the other can help. They are also able to comfort and bring each other joy in a way that I’m not sure anyone else could. They feel safer knowing their sibling is also safe. I earn the trust of one child when they watch me with the other. They make each other feel safer, and together they make me a better parent.

 

Every child is a gift, and you can be a warrior who fights for the dreams of children in your community as a foster family. If foster care is something you’ve been considering, or you’ve experienced firsthand what a difference a supportive, loving home can make in the life of a child in foster care, why not consider saying “yes” to siblings? Your “yes” can help us break the cycle of child abuse. To request more information about how you can begin your foster journey, visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo where you can fill out our Foster Inquiry Form.

 

*While Hannah’s story is true, we used a pseudonym to protect her identity.
0

Foster Friday: Welcoming Teens Into Your Home

Whether it’s reading a romantic novel, flipping through the pages of a family scrapbook or watching a breath-taking sunset, we all have something that tugs at our emotions.

Mark*—an amazing foster parent who has welcomed several children into his home throughout the years— gets a little choked up over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “One of the kids I fostered loved that cartoon, so every time I see it, happy memories come to mind,” Mark said.

Mark has adopted three children and opened his home to others as a foster parent. While some families prefer to foster younger children, Mark has a heart for helping teens and tweens. Equal parts mentor and parent to the kids in his care, Mark stresses the importance of going to school, working hard for what they want and raising the bar for their future.

“Many of the kids I have fostered have experienced abuse or have seen the consequences drug addiction and violence can have on a family,” Mark said. “At first, it can be difficult for them to envision anything different. But when kids have someone who believes in them, they open their minds to other possibilities like a job, trade school or college.” Mark said it is at those times when he feels just as excited as the kids do!

Mark knows that the children he fosters will eventually move on to the next phase in their lives. But they always have a place in his heart. When asked to name his greatest wish for the kids he fosters, Mark said, “For them to believe in themselves and work toward their dreams.”

Right now there are hundreds of teens in Texas who need someone like Mark to provide a safe and loving home where they can learn, prepare for the future, and simply enjoy a typical high school experience. To learn more about what it is really like to foster a teenager, please complete the short inquiry form at www.upbring.org/fosterinfo and one of our knowledgeable Foster In Texas team members will be happy to answer your questions.

*Mark’s story is true, but his name and identifying information have been changed to protect the privacy of the children in his care.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent yourself, we’d love to hear from you! Visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo to submit our Foster Inquiry Form.

1

8 Last-Minute DIY Halloween Costumes

Fall is a busy time in households across the U.S. with school, extracurricular activities and the holiday season in full swing. Between navigating homework assignments and driving to soccer practice, meal planning and bedtime, some like-to-do list items are bound to fall through the cracks – like finding the perfect Halloween costumes for your family that won’t break the bank!

Halloween is a fun time for children to create lasting memories as they use their imaginations to become a fairy, a dragon or even a superhero! Invite your children to join you as you find creative ways to put together costumes from items easily found around the house or at the dollar store. Below you’ll find 8 DIY costumes that are sure to bring a smile to their faces:

 

1. An Emoji

Emojis are everywhere, from movies to pajamas! Cut a giant circle out of yellow poster board and have your child use markers to draw his or her favorite emoji face. Punch two holes at the top, attach string to both sides so they can wear it like a really big necklace and you’re ready to go!

 

2. A Train

Grab some empty boxes and help your children paint them to look like the engine of a train. You can use paper plates or leftover cardboard to create wheels and a battery-operated light to complete the look. Use string or rope to create two straps and you’re ready to send your children chugging along!

 

3. A Minion

Paint two paper plates to look like eyes, glue them onto a headband and dress your child in a yellow shirt for a look that’s sure to bring joy and laughs.

 

4. Salt and Pepper

If you’re taking two children trick-or-treating this year, grab a black t-shirt and a white t-shirt and use paint pens to draw an “S” on one and a “P” on the other. For an added bonus, you can make a shaker “lid” hat out of tin foil.

 

5. A Bunch of Grapes

Blow up purple balloons and glue or tape them to a black or green t-shirt. Just be careful not to sit down!

 

6. A Lego

Cut head and arm holes into a large cardboard box and attach paper bowls with glue for the “pegs” – then paint the whole thing your child’s favorite color. If you’re taking multiple children trick-or-treating, you can make a Lego in each color and have them “stick” together!

 

7. A Ghost

For a unique take on the classic “sheet ghost costume,” use layers of tulle (and ribbon to keep it together) to make a fluffy, spooky spirit! Use construction paper to make eyes and glue them to the tulle to complete the look.

 

8. A Donut

Glue construction paper sprinkles onto a round pool float for a simple and fun costume.

 

With a blank t-shirt or a cardboard box, the Halloween costume opportunities are endless. And spending time creating, making a mess, and maybe even a mistake or two will create memories that will keep your family smiling.

 

What are some of your favorite costumes from childhood? Let us know in the comments! Happy Halloween!

 

 

1

Hurricane Harvey: The Road to Rebuilding

Tomorrow, as the sun rises on a new day, one can’t help but think back to this time a year ago when windows were boarded up and grocery store shelves were empty as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in South Texas. It’s hard to believe 365 days have passed since the destructive storm terrorized our state – shattering records, leaving 68 people dead and making a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands. Homes and streets were flooded. People spent days lofted on their roofs waiting for rescue teams to alleviate them from increasingly high waters. Food and water supplies diminished too quickly. Several regions of our state were in chaos.

But as always, we as Americans showed our resilience and banded together to help impacted families. With support from generous friends, not only in Texas but across the country, Upbring stood with the community, helping families find food, clothing, medical assistance and safe, clean shelter. We also had the resources to provide our Foster In Texas families with stipends that helped cover essentials like travel costs, temporary housing, clothing and diapers. For those affected by this horrific storm, the generous support and donations that poured in helped ease their minds and allowed them to focus on rebuilding without the fear of where their next meal would come from, if they would have a roof over their heads and if their children would be comforted after days of living in fear.

Together, we stood strong in the face of tragedy and made an immediate difference in the lives of families who needed our help. Still, thousands more are continuously working to rebuild their lives, and Upbring will stand with them. Our Disaster Response Team is preparing to mobilize and take over case management for families in need in South Texas. We ask that you keep our team and the families they will serve in your prayers.

 

ICYMI: We shared six tips to help you prepare for a hurricane. Check them out here.

0

Your Summer Road Trip Survival Guide

The community pools are open, school is out until August, and the temperatures are high. For many of us, summer break means summer vacation season, whether it’s a small “staycation,” a quick day trip or a longer road trip with family. These are amazing ways to create fun memories and introduce our kids to new, exciting places…but we have to get there first!

Here are 5 simple road trip survival guide tips to help you enjoy the journey as much as the destination:

Read More

0

32 Fun Summer Activities For Kids

Summertime is finally here. The days are longer, the temperature is higher and children are out of school. Summer break provides the perfect opportunity to create lifelong memories with your children that will keep them smiling through the fall and winter months. Here are 32 fun ways you can spend time with your children this summer.

1. Visit your local farmers’ market

Support local farmers by buying fresh fruits and vegetables or homemade treats. For added fun: Buy ingredients to make a homemade meal or a healthy dessert or buy fresh flowers to create a beautiful floral arrangement for your home or to gift to a friend.

Read More

12