Posts filed under Foster Care

Back to School ….It Isn’t Just for Kids

Adulting isn’t easy! 

Written by Yolanda Webb

 Returning to school as an adult

Returning to school as an adult

When we are kids we always say, “I can’t wait until I’m an adult!”  But that reality sets in once you reach that milestone of 20, 30,40,50  and beyond.  Whether it’s marriage, career, kids, bills, health concerns or just the everyday of keeping the everyday moving.  Adulting is hard. 

And sometimes on top of all the everyday stuff is that dream of going back to school to finish, to get a higher degree or just to improve your own potential. 

But, earning a degree is different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school.   Now that you’re at a different time in your life with more defined goals, life skills and experience your focus on going back to school can be for different reasons.

But as you ponder your next steps before or after retirement what do you need to ask yourself about taking the plunge and going back to school?

Will I Have Room in My Schedule?

Balancing a job, family, and other obligations with school won't be easy.  But it can be done. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.

Beyond this plan, you'll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.

Have I Been Out of School Too Long?

In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you've participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.

Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind.

Am I Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology?

Online programs, these days are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.

Will I be Able to Manage the Cost of My Education?

An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to save time and money. And remember, you can always take one or two courses to start and not a full course load.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Remember, age can play in your favor when going back to school. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess, things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.

Remember going back to school now means you are doing this for you and for your own dreams, aspirations and goals.

Summer...Summer...Summertime

Tips For Enjoying the Sights and Sounds of Summer 

written by Yolanda Webb

 Summer Tips

Summer Tips

I know it when I hear it!  “Summer summer summertime Time to sit back and unwind…”

The sounds of summer almost always begin with Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ushering in summer time with the song that has become the anthem of every backyard barbecue or family reunion.  

Summer Time.  Young or old you know the song.  And if you listen to the lyrics they take you back to your youth and inspire you to days gone by.

But let’s be honest...it’s hot as...well you know.  That song while it inspires us to get outside doesn’t prepare us on how to take in that summer heat.  And let’s face it for many of us that are now while past that prime of summer time, rules on how best to take care of ourselves and those we serve are what’s needed right now.

So how do you sneak in that much needed vitamin D and unwind by spending more time out in the sun?  Try a few of these health tips for summer living outdoors.

  1. Hydrate - Drink water before, during and after any outdoor activity.  Whether a party in the park or running those exercise laps, drink at least 4 ounces of water for every 20 minutes you are outside.

  2. Protect yourself - Everybody needs sunscreen.  And I mean everybody. It does not matter how much melanin you have in your skin you need sunscreen.  Apply a waterproof broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. If you are using a towel while standing at that grill to wipe your face...reapply every two hours or so.

  3. Eat Fresh Fruit - The biggest reason I love summer...the number of local farmers markets or fruit and vegetable vendors selling locally.  When I was a kid growing up we would visit my grandmother in Mobile and everyday, Bump...yep that was his name...Bump would come around in that fruit and vegetable truck and give each kid a plum or peach.  My grandmother would buy ears of corn, watermelon, strawberries, pecans, grapes and more.

  4. Check the time - Did you know the best time to be outside is before 10 a.m and after 4 p.m?  The sun’s rays are often their hottest between those times.

  5. Protect others -  If you have children or an elderly parent or client, protect their face, neck and shoulders with a large brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of summer and to help kick off your summer time enjoy this listen of Summertime by Will Smith (The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff) 

 
 

June is World Elder Abuse Month!

written by Alex Williams

 World Elder Abuse Awareness

World Elder Abuse Awareness

Every year we dedicate June to Elder Abuse. On June 15, we observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day is an opportunity to raise awareness of elder abuse and neglect and renew our commitment preserving the rights of older adults. For Elder Abuse Month, we would like to give you the signs of elder abuse.

What to Look For: Signs of Abuse provided by the Tennessee Department of Human Services

Physical Abuse

  • Bruising, especially on the torso or head
  • Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents"
  • Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists 

Emotional Abuse

  • Isolation of the vulnerable adult or refusal to allow visits with the vulnerable adult alone
  • Threatening, belittling or controlling behavior by the caregiver that you see
  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
  • Behavior that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking or mumbling
  • Outbursts or extreme anger or punishment like the silent treatment 

Sexual Abuse

  • Frequent genital or urinary tract irritation and infection
  • An indication of bruising to genitals, upper torso or upper thighs
  • Vulnerable adult indicates discomfort with the caregiver while bathing, dressing, or toileting
  • Vulnerable adult has little or no privacy for bating or dressing which bothers him or her
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We are partnered with Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA). CREA’s services are intended for individuals over the age of 60 who may be abused and who are seeking services in response to elder abuse. With this partnership, we are able to better advocate and protect the elderly!

 

Posted on June 6, 2018 and filed under Foster Care.

February Foster Parent of the Month!

 February Prize Patrol Winners with Meritan Foster Care Staff!

February Prize Patrol Winners with Meritan Foster Care Staff!

Foster Care Parent of the Month was created to recognize foster parents for their dedication in working with any foster youth that enters their home. A prize patrol parent is chosen monthly to represent each month of the year. Foster Care of the Month was initiated in September 2017.

 Meritan February Foster Care Parents of the Month Winners! Congratulations!

Meritan February Foster Care Parents of the Month Winners! Congratulations!

During the fourth staff meeting of every month, the TN Foster Care staff recommends 3 foster parents who have met the criteria of being the Foster Care Parent of the Month. In order to be chosen, there must be proof that the foster parent met the criteria for 4 consecutive months.

The criteria is:

  • Submission of timely documentation 
  • Completion of ongoing training 
  • Successful collaboration with Meritan, DCS, and other Involved Adults, 
  • Active participation and 
  • Transportation to any form of appointments, family visits, and school visits.

The responsible foster care staff makes sure that all psychological, social, and educational needs have been met. Once the Foster Care Parent of the Month is chosen, a surprise visit to the home with as many foster care staff as possible, is conducted. The foster parent is presented with a gift basket with a card signed by the foster care staff and sweet treats. 

Congratulations to our February Foster Care Parents of the Month winners!

Q and A about our Foster Care Parents of the Month winners, the Wardlows.

Where are the foster parents from? The foster parents are from Tennessee.

Interesting Facts? The foster parents are very involved with any child placed in their home socially and educationally. The Wardlow's provide ongoing support in every aspect to each foster youth. 


What made you choose them to win? The TN foster care staff selected the Wardlow's as the Foster Care Parents of the Month for February based on their hard work and dedication in fostering. They met the necessary criteria to be chosen as the Foster Care Parents of the Month!

Posted on March 7, 2018 and filed under Foster Care.

Why I foster...

 Kerry Connors

Kerry Connors

Home. That’s really what we are talking about in foster parenting. A place to rest. A place of calm. Consistency. A place where you can know love. A place of safety and security.

Thinking about foster parenting is hard. It’s difficult to think about kids who are without these very basic things we take for granted. Why would you take on someone else’s problems? There are going to be all these things, all these appointments, all this everything.

But it’s not about any of that. It’s about real, actual children. This isn’t a hypothetical anymore. There are children, right here in our community who are in need. Their parents are not currently able or perhaps not even capable of taking care of them. Parents may need a hand to learn skills in parenting, managing their time, anger management, life skills like keeping a clean house, making sure there are groceries in the house, or managing their money. The foster care system provides the space and time for a parent to do the work they need to do, and a child to be cared for in a loving, supportive home.

Do you think “I’m sure there’s somewhere kids go in a situation like that?” Well guess what? There’s not. There’s no such thing as some nice big happy place where kids all get together in a big school type setting and have a wonderful caring older woman who lovingly tends to her charges. This is it, foster care is the system. Individuals, like you, are who make this work. Kids don’t need an institution, they need real people. An actual foster parent to open their home and their heart, to let them know that there are adults who will care. Who can provide. Who will be there. Who won’t let them go hungry. It’s you. You are the person who can fill in the piece missing in their hearts where they know that all these things are supposed to happen, but they haven’t experienced it yet. They know other kids who seem to have these things, but for some reason it hasn’t been true for them.

Hopefully, their parent or family member will receive the training and support that they need to be able and willing to parent. The goal is to keep families together. Your role as a foster is to help during this transitional time. To model appropriate behavior. Show the child that adults can be counted on. That you will make promises and keep them. Food will always be available. That education and working hard at school are of the highest priority and you will help them to pursue their best.

When you’ve done your job you’ve shared your heart. You have to give it freely, and you send a little piece of you away with your foster child when they return to their family. In the time they spend with you, you can create believers. Believers who know that they are safe, that they are loved, that home is a real concept. You can change something in a child who might have believed that they weren’t worth all the things they deserve, that maybe they were the reason things were unstable at home.

You can do this. It is scary to take the leap, but you won’t be alone. Your agency will be there to help. There will be appointments, but they are by providers who are part of your network of supporters who also want great things for your foster child. You may have extra meetings at school to set up accommodation for a child who might have fallen behind or need extra support. If you do this for them now, they can sustain these positive changes when they return home and will have an added safety net of professionals who care about them.

Be the one who notices and does what needs to be done. Make children believe in goodness. Build community. Be better and more than you thought you could be. The most simple things you provide are the things these children need to most. You can’t regret sharing your heart. You can make a home.

Posted on March 9, 2017 and filed under Foster Care.

Markitta's Story - My Life: Transcendence through Foster Care

My name is Markitta Washington, and I'm a former ward of the state of Mississippi. I am currently majoring in the field of social work at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. In my eyes, I have made tremendous strides to become something more than just another statistic. I wanted to be more than that. I made it my mission to graduate high school and I will do the same for college. I did not want to use the excuse of being a "foster kid" to hinder my success. I didn’t use the fact that I was in foster care as a crutch. Instead, I used it as a stair step. I took advantage of each and everything that the foster care system gave me.

My placement in foster care was not an easy one. I did not show it on the outside, but on the inside I was battling with my emotions. I came from an abusive home and put all the blame on myself. I am the oldest of three children, and it was my job to take care of my younger brothers. My birth mother had hallucinations where she did not know where she was or who we were. This resulted in bruises and battered behinds. I was the shield for my siblings, and it broke my heart when I was separated from them during the process of being placed in state custody. I thought that if I didn't tell the authorities about the physical and sexual abuse, I would’ve still been able to protect them. But if I hadn’t notified the proper people about my situation, I would not be where I am today.

Foster care gave me a chance to discover myself. I did not have a chance to be a child in my mother's household. I was too busy taking care of my brothers to ever focus on myself. In foster care, I was given a chance to love myself and to think about me. I was surrounded by love in this new environment. From my foster parents to my social workers, I was spoiled with attention. I never had this kind of attention growing up. I blossomed under this special devotion, and I went from being shy and meek to being outgoing and bubbly. I am happy, and you can tell this by the glow on my skin. I have never had this much love envelope me. It was foreign to me at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.

When I was younger, I used to hear all kinds of horror stories about foster homes. Luckily, I was placed into a loving home, a home that dispelled all the rumors I had heard. I was treated like family. My foster parents welcomed me with open arms, and I thank God every single day to have been blessed with this wonderful family. I have been with my foster family for seven years, and I’ve joked with them that they haven’t kicked me out yet! Even after my emancipation from the state, my foster parents still hold me near and dear. Eight years ago I would have never dreamed of this outcome.

Eight years ago, when I entered the foster care system, I did not see a bright future for myself. Eight years ago, I also could not have seen myself graduating from high school or attending college. Eight years ago, I could not have envisioned myself as the young lady I am today. Because of foster care, I thank my lucky stars for the chance to restart my life for the better.

 

Posted on June 15, 2016 and filed under Foster Care.

CaDana' Story

According to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Memphis has the largest number of children in foster care than any other city in the state. Statistics also show that foster children after the age of 18 have a 60 percent higher chance of being incarcerated, homeless, and pregnant than their peers.  These figures are alarming and disheartening to me, as a young woman who spent 7 years in the foster care system in Memphis, Tennessee from the ages of 6 to 13. I lived in 9 different foster homes and was separated from my five biological siblings. I remember that some of my foster homes were very nice and left pleasant memories. I also lived in homes as a foster child where I encountered physical and verbal abuse as well. Those were the challenging times, because I felt like no one was fighting on my behalf and that people were not protecting me from harm, even while I was in the system. I remember consistently  being labeled and judged by those negative statistics and feeling like it was my job to disprove them. 

Even after all of my experiences in foster care, I still remember people in my community giving me a chance, in hope of not making those negative statistics a reality in my life. Since being adopted at the age of 13,  I have worked with foster children and advocated for them to give them the same hope that was offered to me. As Miss Shelby County, I have been trying  to personally work with children in foster care programs throughout the area, while also connecting them with positive outlets in our communities. My ultimate goal for this advocacy program is to show children that they have the power to change the future regardless of their past or current circumstances. Additionally, I will be attending the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphrey College of Law in the Fall, not order to achieve my dream of becoming a children's advocate attorney to promote and protect the well-being of our children in state custody. My ultimate goal is help children in foster care go from victim to victorious in their lives.