Nancy McKenzie Executive Director Director’s Report As the cold weather settles in, I love a good book and time for reflection. There is much to learn from others who share their experiences and stories, and many of those stories remind me that I have much to be grateful for, and that others are less fortunate. As we wrap up another year at PATH, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with an organization that gives so much throughout the year to others who need our help, guidance, and encouragement. It is a blessing to accept this task. None of it could happen, of course, without the caring and commitment of our foster parents and staff. There is a great deal of focus on giving during this Christmas season, yet the giving happens every day from these wonderful people. PATH youth, every day, are given the gifts of love, caring, support, and hope as they grow and learn. We continued to develop our programs and skills this year, growing our outpatient trauma clinic services, implementing a regular foster care level, implementing a new assessment process, laying the groundwork for a new intensive treatment foster care level, and more. We believe that in order to be the best we can be, we need to continue to change, to learn, and to stretch ourselves beyond the known to find additional ways to help children and families. That value is a critical part of what makes PATH the special entity it is. I hope all of you have a blessed holiday season and that you feel the “gift” of true gratitude and appreciation for all that you do. NOV/DEC 2018 | 26 Let me close with a favorite quote: This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays! – D.M. Dellinger Happy Holidays! Saying goodbye is hard to do. Feelings experienced by the extended family and continued interactions with the child after s/he exits highlighted the level of attachment families feel. “My in-laws are so much a part of our kids’ lives that when two boys were adopted after two years of being part of our family, they continued to call them grandma and grandpa and still keep in touch...,” one foster parent said. Rules, rules, rules. Rules regarding confidentiality and state boundaries affected engagement of extended foster family. The biggest challenge was the rule that inhibits overnight stays with extended family: “So, if I had to go out of town…, my Mom would… watch my biological child, but… she couldn’t do the same thing with the foster child. That’s not normal… One child can stay with grandma and grandpa, but the other one has to go to a stranger’s house?” one parent wondered. We are here, too! Extended foster family members are sometimes invisible to the foster care system and the state. Foster parents suggested that extended family could benefit from training and need recognition for the role they play. “The Agency is great about sending me thank yous and things like that, but sending it to my mom, because she’s a big support, or having a fun day at the zoo for the biological kids? I think those things would go a long way,” one foster parent suggested. Thanks to the participating foster parents, we have learned a great deal about extended foster family members and their involvement in foster care. We will use what we have learned to enhance the positive role they play and to inform training and policy that affects extended family member involvement.
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