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CPS Archives • Upbring

All In the Rose Family: A Story of Foster Care Adoption

Rose adoption groupIn 2009, foster parents James and Marlene Rose joined Foster In Texas (FIT) through our Mesquite office. At that time they had four children in their home, placed through another agency.  Before long, the kids were reunified with their family.  We didn’t know the Rose family very well at the time, but they were adamant that they leave four beds open in the event the siblings were to return into care.  In the course of that year, they only fostered a few kids, so they could be available and there would always be space if these four children came back.

The Roses were so attached to these four children, they worried and thought about them constantly – Were they being taken care of adequately? Were they safe? Around Thanksgiving of 2009, Juan, Thomas, Chris, and Jasmin came back into care, and CPS called and requested the Rose home – filling the empty beds as planned. Then in August 2010, in an event the Roses call “a miracle,” the children’s mother had another baby and baby sister Lea was also placed with the Rose family.

Along the way, the Roses accepted PMC (Permanent Managing Conservatorship or legal guardianship) for the children, and on July 17,2012, they will all officially become Roses, and the name change will be final!

James Rose expresses gratitude for the support and encouragement of LSS-FIT in their journey to the adoption of the children. “We have been so blessed with these kiddos and know that we would never have made it without LSS-FIT being there and helping us help them. Now they really are our children and we wouldn’t want it any other way! Thanks for all everyone has done to make us all one family!!”

Wild About Krause & the Krause Kids

zoo entrance The first Healing Hearts benefit for Krause Children’s Center was an out-of-Africa experience called “Wild About Krause” held at the Houston Zoo on March 3rd. While guests were welcomed and entertained by hyperactive chimps, nosy giraffes, and conga drums, the night was really about the children who reside at Krause, the residential treatment center in Katy for abused and troubled children.

In his remarks to guests and supporters, LSS CEO Dr. Kurt Senske answered the question: “Just who are the Krause Kids?” Because most people are curious, or don’t understand, about how children find their way into residential treatment, these remarks are well worth repeating. This is how Dr. Senske summed it up: [below, or see the video]

“Krause is a long-term residential treatment center for both boys and girls, ages 11 to 17. They stay with us an average of 6 to 9 months, and are referred or placed at Krause by Child Protective Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice. Trust me when we say that we would love to go out of business. Sadly, this side of Heaven, I don’t think we ever will.

Currently, there are 29 boys and 28 girls; about 1/3 are Caucasian, 1/3 African-American, and 1/3 Hispanic. What each child has in common is that every one of the Krause kids has been abused – sexually and/or physically.

Only those who have been the most traumatized and severely abused are admitted to Krause. They come to Krause angry, depressed afraid, and alone. They come fighting, biting, and cursing. There is never a dull moment. A dull moment would be good!

So you can imagine how vigilantly the staff has to supervise and care for them – 24/7/365 – so they won’t hurt themselves or each other. The boys and girls have separate – very separate – dorms. The only time they intermingle is at school.

Along with therapeutic care, spiritual care, and a loving, caring staff, our intensive one-on-one educational system is a game changer and part of the healing process! As you can imagine, virtually all of our Krause Center kids are several grade levels behind educationally. Mandatory attendance at the on-site Trinity Charter School gives them a great opportunity to catch up – gaining lost credits, reaching the appropriate grade level, and establishing confidence, often for the first time, that they can become a success in school.

While at Krause, many of the kids discover talents they didn’t know they had: in music, art, cooking, and sports. They receive daily therapy and services to teach them social and independent living skills, and as they progress in the program are rewarded with outings to prepare them to return to mainstream living – for some it means going home, for some it means foster care, for some a forever adoptive home.

This is why we are here this evening. To give these children a chance that they deserve – an opportunity to give them a new life.”

A resident of Krause then spoke to the crowd about what Krause has meant in his life, and the evening continued with live and silent auctions, music, and even a conga line!

It was a beautiful night at the zoo—a “Wild About Krause” adventure that raised more than $106,000 for the Center and gave participants a deeper understanding of how young hearts can be healed at a special place like Krause.

LSS Foster In Texas Now Offering Low-Cost Online Foster Care Training To All Texas Foster Families and Child Placement Staff

business couple on a laptopAUSTIN, TX [Sept. 27, 2011] – Foster In Texas (FIT), a program of Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. (LSS), announced today the availability of online training for all Texas foster families in need of mandatory training hours. Training is open to all foster parents regardless of their child placing agency, as well as state child placement staff members and social workers in need of CEUs and training hours. Live training classes via interactive webinar are provided on a variety of pertinent subjects and are taught by subject matter experts in each field. The cost of each session is $6.00 per hour per person outside of the LSS FIT network. Training is free to current LSS FIT foster parents and staff.

“All Texas foster families with a broadband internet connection can now take advantage of low-cost training from the convenience of their own home,” said Betsy Guthrie, chief operating officer and president of LSS. “Receiving training at home saves people time and money on gas and babysitting costs, and the webinars are scheduled during convenient day and evening times. This service has been available to our current foster families for over a year. The training covers the most requested subjects, and the feedback has been very positive.”

Interested parties can go online to see a menu and calendar of upcoming classes and instructions for registering and paying. Training topics are divided into four categories: Children’s Health, General Parenting, Minimum Standards and Best Practices, and Trauma-Informed Care. After each session, trainees are able to download and print a certificate of completion for their records.

Texas foster families are required to complete anywhere between 20-60 hours of training per year per home. Child placement staff, managers, and social workers are required to complete between 15 and 30 hours of training annually.

About Foster In Texas

Foster In Texas, a program of Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. (LSS), has a longstanding, award-winning history of success serving vulnerable children and families, with offices in 16 communities throughout Texas. The mission of Foster In Texas is to improve the lives of children who have been removed from their families due to neglect and/or sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, by placing them in stable loving homes and providing therapeutic care as needed. FIT families are actively recruited and trained to foster basic needs children as well as large sibling groups, troubled teens, and children with special medical needs.

Krause Kids Climb Through Window of Hope

rtcwoh4On Saturday, July 9, 2011, 8 kids from The Krause Center joined up with 50 other teens from Houston to bring the hope of Jesus Christ to Houston’s less fortunate. The event is called Window of Hope, which is an inner city mission experience for teens that trains and equips them to serve others; specifically the homeless.

The Krause kids attended Window of Hope all day Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Their day started off with highlighting their favorites Bible verses in copies of the New Testament that were going to be given away with the sack lunches that they packed. After spending a good hour and a half packing lunches and highlighting Bible verses, the Krause kids & other participants were split into groups and were dispersed throughout Downtown Houston.

One 16 year-old female resident at Krause wrote, “I enjoyed being involved in Window of Hope because I got to experience how good it feels to give to those who are less fortunate. It’s a true reward to be the one responsible for the smiles put on their faces. I’d love to come back and do it again.”

On their downtown journey, the groups sought out members of the homeless community and ask them if they wanted a sack lunch. Many times this simple gesture would lead to conversation and would end with the groups praying over homeless men and women. It was incredible to watch the Krause kids be bold in their faith and be the ones to offer help, healing, and hope in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Another Krause female resident, age 17, had this to say, “On the morning of July 9, 2011, a group of youth and church ministers set out on a journey that would change them. On that hot summer day they set out to help people that needed it. I got to be a part of that group of youth and I had a great time. Doing something good for the less fortunate was a wonderful experience. Myself and the group from the church set out on a mission to feed and give prayer to the ones who needed it. It felt wonderful to see the faces on the people who we gave to. Everyone was so happy! By the time we got up and moved along it made me feel good inside and out. It was a great experience and we really did open a window of hope for the people who are less fortunate. It is something I would consider doing again next year. Seeing all those people made me very grateful for the life I have because a lot of people have nothing. I praise the Lord for allowing me to live my life and praise Him for leading me to window of Hope to help the people we did.”

I truly believe that it is these types of experiences that will aide in the healing of the kids in Krause’s care. Experiences like Window of Hope teach teens to be selfless and helps them embrace a new identity: Child of God & Co-heir with Christ. Many kids in Krause’s care have given themselves a negative & false identity due to the abuse they’ve been subjected to, but when they experience Jesus through service opportunities, relationships with Christ-centered adults, and spending time with God, their false identity starts to be replaced with who God says they are. It simply amazes me when I see a child who has been through so much, set aside their own hurt in order to care for another.

Adoption Coalition Gets the Award But the KIDS are the Biggest Winners

AdoptionCoalitionLogo Permanently changing the lives of children in foster care. If that sounds like a lofty goal, it is. It also happens to be the purpose of the Adoption Coalition of Texas, a nonprofit collaborative partnership of child placing agencies that verify and approve foster and adoptive families. The Coalition is founded on the belief that children should not age out of foster care without the support of a family system.

The Adoption Coalition was recently selected from among 807 applicants as the recipient of the 2011 Collaboration Prize, a $162,500 national award funded by the Lodestar Foundation, a grant-making organization that supports nonprofits by encouraging philanthropy.

The Collaboration Prize shines a spotlight on collaborations among two or more nonprofit organizations that gain greater impact by working in partnership. Lutheran Social Services, a founding partner of the Adoption Coalition, was instrumental in the organization becoming a reality, through a grant written by LSS grant writer Cecelia Blanford in 2002.

The Adoption Coalition focuses on increasing the number of adoptions among hard-to-place children of all ethnicities, including teens, sibling groups, and medically fragile children. The success and true impact of this organization is best understood through a simple statistic: In the early days of the Coalition, adoptions in Texas Region 7 averaged 370 per year. They are now up to 780. It is noteworthy that many older kids who were in the system for a long time are included in this group.

“The Collaboration Prize is a tremendous honor,” said Tracy Eilers, executive director of the Adoption Coalition for its first seven years, now a member of the board of directors. “It means that our collaborative approach, focused on doing what is right for the children, has a ‘seal of approval’ from national corporations and foundations. But the legacy that keeps us going every day is the number of kids who now have forever families and opportunities for the future.”

The Adoption Coalition of Texas, working with the Austin Community Foundation and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, collaborates with five child-placing agencies: CPS, Arrow, LSS, Marywood, and Pathways.

Another Side of BP

KrauseBPTcmp We are all painfully aware of the toll that the BP oil spill has taken on those who live along the Gulf Coast. Livelihoods have been profoundly impacted, the ecosystem and wildlife received a significant body blow, and the cleanup will take years. There continues to be anger and distrust aimed at everyone BP employs, assuming a widespread guilt by association.

Allow me to share another side of this complex, world-wide organization. During the past five years, BP subsidiary BP Energy, based in Houston, Texas, has quietly and effectively gone beyond the call of duty to care for abused and abandoned children. Partnering with the Krause Children’s Center, a residential treatment center located in nearby Katy, Texas, that serves children with severe emotional and behavioral problems, the BP Energy employees have “adopted” these children as if they were their own.

BPfencerscmpTwice a year, 80 to 100 BP Energy employees spend an entire day at Krause to paint, landscape, build fences, lay tile and sod, construct cabinets and bookshelves, and make whatever repairs the campus and buildings need at the time. Preparation for these workdays begins months in advance. Other BP Energy employees volunteer their time to help the 65 young residents, and numerous other employees donate funds to the Krause Center on an individual basis, with parent BP America matching their hard-earned gifts. BP Energy also sponsors and participates in an annual golf tournament, raising significant financial support for the Krause Center.

This partnership permeates throughout the entire BP Energy organization, from the traders at the trading desks to individuals like Orlando Alvarez, the organization’s Chief Operating Officer and emotional leader of this project, and Herb Vogel, its President. When you walk into the lobby of their six-story headquarters on the BP campus, the first thing you notice is a large framed photo and accompanying story depicting their support of the Krause Center. Every day, employees are reminded of the difference that they are making in the lives of the least of these.

At the invitation of Herb Vogel, I and several others had the opportunity one recent Monday morning to meet with his leadership team to strategize how we can take this relationship to the next level. They made time to meet with us even as they struggled to regain their balance after the disaster. Not once did anyone ask or suggest how this might benefit BP Energy. This was not about them or their company’s image. Their total focus was to learn more about the needs of the Krause Center and how they could best help.

Organizations like BP are often no different than you and me. We are, in the words of Martin Luther, at the same time sinner and saint. In my many conversations with various BP Energy staff it is clear that they are sensitive to past miscues, and it is evident how deeply they care for their community, family, and children in need. All of us are often too quick to judge those we read about in the daily press―sometimes sadly even enjoying being a spectator to the pain of others. It is my prayer that we not forget about the other side of the faces and human beings that make up BP.

Child’s Choice Gives Foster Kids a Voice

DSC_0042Child’s Choice is a pilot program within the Texas foster care system that gives kids a say in picking their foster homes. Successfully implemented in other states, Child’s Choice is the wave of the future for foster care in Texas. Melody McDonald, a reporter with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently filed this in-depth story about Child’s Choice at the Nelson Center.

Here is an outline of how Child’s Choice works:

Kids end up in the foster care system for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect by the biological parent is far too often the reason. The trauma a child faces at home in an abusive situation is often compounded when they’re removed from the home and placed into foster care. It’s an unsettling time in an already unsettled life. Depending on the severity of the trauma, some kids will act out to the point where their foster families are unable to control them.

Typically, those kids are sent to a residential treatment center (RTC) like the three operated in Texas by Lutheran Social Services of the South: The Nelson Children’s Center in Denton; the Krause Children’s Center in Katy; and the New Life Children’s Center for girls in Canyon Lake. Once a child successfully completes a program at an RTC through hard work and achieving certain goals, the child is ready to go back to a foster family. Historically, that child won’t meet their new foster family until the day they are discharged from the RTC.  This can lead to a new traumatic situation that erases all the progress and hard work made by the child at the RTC. The Child’s Choice program aims to address this problem directly.

Child’s Choice pairs potential foster families with a child preparing to successfully exit an RTC program. During a 6-8 week period before being discharged, the child and the prospective foster family will have the opportunity to get to know each other. Based on that experience, the child, often for the first time, is empowered with the opportunity to decide if that family is the right one for him or her. This process is believed to help alleviate the anxiety and potential for further trauma in that child’s life.

Initially, the child fills out a simple questionnaire with some ideas about the kind of family that child might like, what they like to do, what their interests are. Caseworkers go to work matching a prospective family with that child. A participating foster parent typically visits the RTC to meet and get to know the child. They may go out on excursions together, or the child may sleep over at the house on a weekend. Potential foster parents may attend therapy sessions with the child. If all goes well and the child chooses to be fostered by that family, then they have a sense of where they are going and what to expect. If, for whatever reason, a child feels uncomfortable with a prospective foster family, they can say “no” and caseworkers will then screen another prospective family.

DSC_0012The Nelson Center in Denton is one of the first RTCs in Texas to implement Child’s Choice; two children are already placed with families and more are pending. New Life Children’s Center in Canyon Lake is also in the process of implementing Child’s Choice.

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