September Newsletter

Education News

LEARNING TO PLAY

It might appear as if play is just for kids. Or it might feel as if certain types of people are wired for play and others are simply not. Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child and co-founder of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX regularly spoke to the power of play in connecting with the children in our care.

Play is more than just fun; it is critical to child development. “Play has shown to have many benefits for the brain because it not only engages children in activities that promote cognitive development (e.g., problem-solving, collaboration, mental flexibility, creativity) but it also removes barriers to cognitive development (e.g., fear, anxiety, stress). Likewise, play promotes development of a wide range of socio-emotional skills, such as self-regulation, listening, negotiating, independent thinking, taking other perspectives, persistence, and curiosity,” writes Sheri Parris, a Research Scientist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU. Children who are not given the opportunity to engage in play often miss developmental milestones.

But it is more than just a critical component in typical child development. Play is a tool for parents to help the children in their care. Dr. Purvis once said: “Play disarms fear, builds connectedness, and teaches social skills and competencies for life.” While it may seem like a simple idea, play is fundamental to forming trust-based relationships. Play permeates the therapuetic model Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) through each of the three core principles: empowering, connecting, and correcting. For those of us who are parenting kids in care or children who joined our families through adoption, play is the “magic tool to connection.”

Understanding how our children play and how we play best is an important part of findings ways to engage with our children, especially for those who might think they are too mature or uncomfortable to be silly and play “well.” According to research by Dr. Stuart Brown, there are eight different types of play personalities: the joker, the kinesthete, the explorer, the competitor, the director, the collector, the artist/creator, and the storyteller. You can take this simple quiz to learn your play personality, but as is often true, you might be able to discover your play personality best by reading about the different types. Take time in the coming month to educate yourself about play and find ways to implement play in your family with intentionality. See if playful engagement helps your family connect.


Adoption News

HELPING MORE FAMILIES ADOPT

We know that for many, the financial expense of adoption can be difficult, and it is our desire to help remove the financial barriers families often face to adoption. CFLM supports Christian couples in the state of Georgia through our Adoption Assistance Grants. Historically, we have funded our grants through an annual fundraising campaign we have called Both Hands.

We have officially closed out our 2019 campaign, and we want to thank our donors and community for your support of our 2019 Both Hands Project! This year we had over 150 volunteers join us in working at the homes of 13 women in our local community. These women were overjoyed to receive help to finish projects and complete tasks that they, alone, were not equipped to do. We were able to transform their homes and create beautiful friendships. Thank you for playing such an important role in making that possible. 

Through sponsorship, our volunteers helped us raise $85,926! Every dollar goes directly into our Adoption Assistance Grant Fund. Every penny will be given to Christian couples throughout the state of Georgia who are adopting. Children who are currently living without the love and protection of a family will be able to come home to their new family because of the money you gave! Thank you for providing for these families and ushering their children home.

Although our 2019 Both Hands Project has come to a close, you can still support adopting families with financial support. Over the years, the number of grant applications our ministry receives has grown exponentially. Our third quarter of grant applications recently closed with 15 grant applications received. A directed gift toward our Adoption Assistance Grant fund will go directly to helping more families with their adoption expenses in upcoming grant cycles. You can give online or simply write a check and indicate “Adoption Grant” when you give.


Foster Care News

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR FOSTER FAMILIES

CEU RESOURCE

Part of our goal is to educate and equip families to care for the children in their homes, so we are always on the lookout for resources that we can share. We recently found an easy and FREE resource that may be helpful for your family.

As you know, the state requires each licensed foster parent to receive 15 continuing education credits each year. For some families working with certain licensing agencies, a new requirement has been added to receive one hour in the following four subjects: Bullying, Behavior Management, Trauma, and Internet Safety. Again, this is not a requirement for all Georgia foster families, so check with your caseworker to confirm if this addition applies to your family. Regardless, this resource is available to all licensed foster families, and it may be helpful to your family. The Georgia Center for Resources and Support offers an expansive list of online courses through their Virtual Certificate Training. Simply select the course and follow the listed instructions to receive access to the material and to receive the necessary CEU certificate.

POLICY CHANGES REGARDING VACCINATIONS

DFCS has recently updates their policy regarding required vaccinations. The new policies are as follows:

  • All children who are household members are required to be up-to-date on immunizations unless immunizations are contrary to the child’s health as documented by a licenses health care professional.

  • All household members who will be caregivers of infants (age 12 months and under) are required to have an up-to-date pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination unless the immunization is contrary to the individual’s health as documented by a licensed health care professional.

  • All household members who will be caregivers of infants (age 12 months and under) and children with special needs are required to have an up-to-date annual influenza vaccination unless the immunization is contrary to the individual’s health as documented by a licensed health care professional.

August Newsletter

Education News

LEARNING TO CARE WORKSHOP

REGISTER TODAY FOR OUR NEXT FREE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY

Join us on Monday, September 16, for our next Learning to Care workshop: “Looking Through the Eyes of the Vulnerable.” Danny Stevens will share experiences from his 38 years in child welfare. The workshop will explore the lives of children involved with the foster care system. Using case examples, Danny will review the lessons learned throughout his career through the eyes of some of the children he served, looking at the emotional impact of the policies, practices, and good intentions of the adults who surround them.

Danny Stevens is the Coordinator of the Athens-Clarke County Family Treatment Court and a part-time instructor with the University of Georgia. He retired from DFCS in 2013 as program manager in the State Permanency (Adoption) Unit. His primarily role with the Department was in the adoption and foster care areas. His graduate research focused on infertility, adoption and marital satisfaction.

To register for this free 2-hour workshop, follow this link. Don’t forget, childcare is free, but space is limited!


Adoption News

NEW ADOPTIVE PARENT SUPPORT OPPORTUNITY

EMPOWERED TO CONNECT: PARENT CONNECT COURSE

THE COURSE
We are offering a nine-week course this fall for adoptive parents. The curriculum was created by Empowered to Connect (ETC). The course will begin on Thursday, September 19, and run for nine consecutive weeks, meeting each Thursday from 7:30-9:30. The cost will be $125 which will include five books, course work, and access to additional readings and videos.

To register, click here.

ETC Parent Trainings equip parents with a holistic understanding of their child’s needs and development while empowering them with the tools and strategies to effectively meet those needs, build trust, and help their child heal and grow. The ETC Connect course is an interactive learning experience designed specifically for parents and caregivers whose children have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, and maltreatment. This course was developed by Michael and Amy Monroe and relies heavily on the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) model developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and her colleagues at the Karyn Purvis TCU Institute of Child Development.

ABOUT EMPOWERED TO CONNECT
Empowered To Connect (ETC) has a long and fruitful history of serving children and families. ETC was started in Irving Texas as a part of Tapestry Ministries of Irving Bible Church by Michael and Amy Monroe with the support of Dr. Karyn Purvis. In collaboration with Dr. Purvis, Michael and Amy went on to write two Empowered To Connect parent training courses, based on the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) model. 

In 2009, Show Hope and the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development held the first Empowered To Connect conference. In the years since, the conference has been held 19 times, simulcast to thousands of locations and reached countless caregivers and professionals with a message of hope undergirded with truth and compassion. 

In 2018, the ownership and program rights of ETC were transferred to the care of the Memphis Family Connection Center (MFCC), a holistic family care clinic based on the principles of TBRI. MFCC co-founders Mark and Tona Ottinger have been ETC parent trainers since 2010 and are deeply invested in ETC and supporting its continued growth for years to come.

ABOUT THE TRAINERS
In July 2019, Sam and Amanda Greavu traveled to Memphis, Tennessee for a three-day course following a seven-week online training. This training certified them as as ETC Parent Trainers and equipped them to teach Prepare and Connect Courses.

Sam and Amanda have been married for 9 years. Sam is a Physical Therapist with Athens Orthopedic Clinic and Amanda works on staff at CFLM as our Director of Communications. They have two sons, both of which joined their family through adoption. Their oldest son was adopted at birth through domestic adoption. Their youngest son was adopted through international adoption from China at two.


Foster Care News

BACK, BACK, BACK TO SCHOOL

PENCILS, MARKERS, AND GLUE…

As the calendar approaches August, we all know it means one thing: Back to School! Starting a new school year can be hard for any child, but for kids in care, returning to the classroom can carry additional difficulties. We want to help equip kids in care and the families that serve them to have the very best school year possible.

With that in mind, CFLM has facilitated school supply support for children in Clarke and Oconee counties for the last three years. Compass Community homeschool group reached out to CFLM three years ago wanting to help provide school supplies for kids in foster care. For the last three years, they have helped us do just that! This year, with the help of our donors, Compass Community and CFLM teamed up to purchase school supplies for 63 children in care throughout Clarke and Oconee counties.

In addition, this year the President of the Foster Parent Association in Walton county reached out and asked for assistance. Funding provided through a grant to CFLM, enabled us to purchase 50 backpacks and fill them with supplies. The backpacks were distributed at the Walton County Back to School Bash held at the Walton County DFCS office.

TRAUMA IN THE CLASSROOM

Studies show that classrooms are filled with children who have experienced childhood trauma. The CDC ACE study tells us that “almost half the nation’s children have experienced at least one or more types of serious childhood trauma.”

In the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study, the ten types of childhood adversity measured were:

  • physical, sexual, verbal abuse

  • physical and emotional neglect

  • a parent who’s an alcoholic (or addicted to other drugs) or diagnosed with a mental illness

  • witnessing a mother who experiences abuse

  • losing a parent to abandonment or divorce

  • a family member in jail

That is certainly a humbling set of statistics, but we believe that with a lot of work from compassionate caregivers, children and youth can begin the hard work of healing from these complex and difficult experiences. Teacher play an integral role in that process. To help equip the classrooms in our community, we’ve provided some helpful links below. Teachers, we want to help you see the need behind the behavior and meet the need, so that you may continue the difficult work of strengthening and stretching young minds. Parents, feel empowered to advocate for teacher by sharing this information with your child’s school.

  • a helpful blog from an adoptive mom and former elementary school teacher

  • a list of several resources from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development

  • information about ACEs and the science behind it

July 2019 Newsletter

EDUCATION NEWS

SAVE THE DATE: 2020 CHOOSING TO CARE ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE CONFERENCE

We are excited to announce that our 2020 Choosing to Care Conference will be held on Saturday, February 1, at Prince Avenue Baptist Church from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dr. Sharen Ford will be joining us as our speaker for main session, and as always we will offer breakouts covering various topics related to adoption and foster care, allowing you to customize your experience to best meet your needs.

Dr. Sharen Ford is the program director for Focus on the Family’s adoption and orphan care efforts. She helps raise awareness of the need for adoptive families to provide loving and stable homes for the more than 100,000 waiting children in the U.S. foster care system. She also makes post-placement resources available for adoptive families.

Ford has spoken at a variety of conferences on adoption and orphan care issues including the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) annual conference, Bethany Christian Services’ annual conference, the White House Conference on Adoption and the Federal Children’s Bureau Child Welfare Conference.

Please save the date and make plans to join us. As always, this is a free event, and free (but limited) childcare will be available. Registration will open later this fall. We look forward to serving you and your family at conference in 2020!

 

ADOPTION SUPPORT NEWS

NEW ADOPTIVE PARENT GATHERINGS

Chosen for Life Ministries began as a small group of couples who met in the living room of our Chair and Vice Chairwoman of the Board to discuss and address the need for resources and support for adoptive parents in our community. In the past, this support for adoptive families primarily came in the form of financial support through our Adoption Assistance Grant. However, we have always believed that the adoption journey does not end when you welcome your son or daughter home; the journey is just beginning.

With that in mind, CFLM is excited to begin offering additional forms of support for adoptive families. This fall we will be offering monthly Adoptive Parent Gatherings. These informal evenings will provide an opportunity for local adoptive parents to find community and share with one another. Adoptive Parents Gatherings will occur on the fourth Monday of each month, beginning Monday, August 26. To register, follow this link.

 

FOSTER CARE NEWS

CREATIVE WAYS TO SERVE IN FOSTER CARE

We so encouraged when local churches find ways to serve and love the foster care community. This summer two local churches found opportunities to through Vacation Bible School. Faith Presbyterian and Redeemer Presbyterian saw the opportunity that VBS provided and chose to talk to the kids about the value of our local DFCS staff and what they do for kids. Both groups made gifts and cards for our Compassionate Listening team.

Once Resurrection Presbyterian heard about the Compassionate Listening ministry, they asked if they could send a gift or snack once a month with the volunteers to encourage the local DFCS staff. We are so encouraged by the creative ways that churches find to engage in caring for vulnerable children and the people who serve them.

If you are interested in helping your church find a way to serve the foster care community and share Christ’s love, contact us. We would love to help you. If your church is located in Clarke or Oconee county, contact Kelly Brooks. If your church is in Region 5, but not in Clarke or Oconee county, contact Jessi Williams.

June Newsletter

EDUCATION NEWS

REGISTER TODAY—UPCOMING LEARNING TO CARE

INSIDE THE MIND OF A CHILD WITH TRAUMA AND DISRUPTED ATTACHMENT

Spots are still available for our next Learning to Care Workshop. On Monday, July 15th, Angela Mains, MA, LPC, and Registered Play Therapist will join us for our next workshop. Angela currently leads the counseling program at Lifeline Children’s Services.

When encountering a child who has been traumatized and has experienced compromised attachment, parents and professionals are often baffled by the seemingly bizarre behavior that follows movement to a new home. It can feel as if children who have been neglected and abused find ways to sabotage good placements. They may rage, steal, lie, remain detached, and so much more. What is going through their minds? What motivates their behavior? Come to gain understanding.

WORKSHOP DETAILS

Monday, July 15, from 6 to 8 pm at Faith Presbyterian Church (Free childcare is available, but limited. Register soon!)

Register Here

SAVE THE DATE

We are pleased to announce that our next Choosing to Care Conference will be Saturday, February 1, 2020, at Prince Avenue Baptist Church! Save the date, and make plans to join us for one of our favorite days of the year.

ADOPTION SUPPORT NEWS

WRAPPING UP OUR BOTH HANDS PROJECT

Our goal is to raise $100,000. Every dollar donated to our Both Hands Project funds our Adoption Assistance Grant. To date, we have raised $76,247 this year to help Georgia families with their adoption expenses. We want to help eliminate financial barriers to adoption so that more waiting children will come home to their forever families. Our giving period is coming to an end soon…how can you help us meet our goal?

HOW CAN I HELP?
Every dollar makes a difference to these adopting families. Each family is always so thankful for the financial support!

If you would like to make a donation to our Both Hands Project, you can do so in one of the following two ways:

  1. Mail a check. Please make your check payable to Both Hands and indicate CFLM 2019 on the memo line.
    Both Hands Foundation
    PO Box 2713
    Brentwood TN 37024

  2. Give online. Visit bothhands.org/chosenforlife2019 to donate online.

Please note: Your money is donated to Both Hands Foundation and they graciously manage all the finances for our event and pray for and encourage us, all at no cost. When the event is over, Both Hands Foundation sends 100% of the money raised to CFLM, so feel confident that 100% of your donation goes directly to helping Georgia families adopt. Donations may also be made online. Both Hands Foundation and Chosen for Life Ministries are approved 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. Your donation is tax deductible. Both Hands Foundation and Chosen for Life Ministries are members of the Evangelic Center for Financial Accountability.

FOSTER CARE NEWS

REUNIFICATION MONTH

June is National Reunification Month. Reunification occurs when children and youth in foster care are able to return into the custody of their biological parents. Although adoption tends to be highlighted as a common outcome for children in care, the primary and preferred permanency goal is reunification with parents. National Reunification Month is about recognizing the people and efforts that help families to stay together.

With that in mind, on Monday, June 10, Children First and Home in 5 hosted a Declaration and Celebration event at the Athens-Clarke County City Hall. Mayor Kelly Girtz, Juvenile Court Judge Robin Shearer, Clarke County DFCS Director Mary Barrett all spoke along with parents who have worked to bring their children home safely and successfully reunified. The goal of the event was to officially declare June as Reunification Month in Athens-Clarke County and to celebrate families who overcome many challenges to work bring their children back home.

You can watch a video of the event and view photos provided by Children First, Inc.