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The OHU System of Care Provides a “New Set of Eyes”

In 2013, the System of Care Program in Collinsville, IL received a referral for a child, Marc*, in a specialized foster home.  Marc had a history of setting fires and destroying property, making him at high risk for placement in a residential program. Prior to his placement in the specialized foster home, Marc experienced multiple moves and instability in his life.  He was not living with his siblings and his parent’s rights were in the process of being terminated.  Marc struggled to communicate with the adults in his life and was making minimal progress with his therapist. 

The OHU System of Care was asked to serve as a “new set of eyes” for this child who was struggling by assessing current efforts and making recommendations for changes to his treatment plan. The SOC worker spent the next 45 days meeting with and discussing permanency planning with Marc’s service providers. The SOC worker was able to recommend changes to Marc’s treatment plan, including suggested interventions to help the child express himself to the adults in his life.

The System of Care worker also provided recommendations to Marc’s therapist on ways to utilize the child’s strengths in therapy, as well as incorporating non-verbal communication into therapy.  Most importantly, the SOC worker was able to provide much needed support to Marc’s foster parent, who was interested in adopting him. 

Marc’s placement was stabilized through System of Care services, which provided new insights into the services Marc was receiving. Over time his verbal abilities have improved with his foster parent and the other adults in his life.  When the case closed, Marc’s caregiver mentioned that Marc now communicated, in small increments, with her on a daily basis, a big improvement from when SOC services started.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the family.  Photo is a stock image.

The Foster Parent Café

One Hope United staff members Corinne Fish, Kristen Kinnear, and supervisor Brionne Rhodes are part of the Madison County Permanency Action Team, a group focusing on foster parent retention. Recently, the Team spearheaded a collaboration with Be Strong Families and the Department of Children and Family Services to provide a Foster Parent Café in the community.

The Café was designed to provide foster parents peer support and help them realize they are not alone in caring for their foster children. Many foster children have experienced difficult situations and their needs can be difficult to meet at times. The Café offered a place for Foster parents to come together and share their struggles and discuss resolutions.

One Hope United System of Care staff worked to bring in donations from community members to provide refreshments and child care during this event. The manager of the Alton, IL, Applebee’s – Sue Sprinot – donated food for the children during the Café. One Hope United System of Care staff also worked with DCFS staff to provide care for children ages 18 months to 14 years old. This allowed a safe place for foster parents to bring the children and enjoy the evening of support.

During the Café, One Hope United was able to offer craft activities for the children, games, and other activities to keep their little bodies busy while their caregivers were able to sit back and enjoy themselves. The event proved to be a success as participants indicated interest in attending future events like this.

One Hope United looks forward to continued collaboration with other community agencies to provide support to the foster parents who so ably serve our children. One Hope United System of Care worker Kristen Kinnear, and all staff, continue to spread the word in this collaboration and to remember this: “On your worst day on the job, you are still some child’s best hope.”

“Mixed Up” No More

Sally*, a seven year old living with a foster family, works with the System of Care program in southern Illinois. The System of Care (SOC) program provides Sally and her family with extra skills and supports needed to address Sally’s behavior problems. As happens with children in foster care, Sally experienced heightened anxiety when preparing for a visit with her biological mom and siblings. Sally also experienced anxieties in the classroom, explaining that her head often felt “mixed up” at school.

During an in-home meeting after a particularly challenging day at school, the SOC worker tried to talk with Sally about her difficulties at school. When Sally refused to discuss her day at school, the SOC worker took a different approach. Gathering construction paper, crayons, and markers from her mobile supply closet (the trunk of her car) the SOC worked asked Sally to draw pictures of her day. The SOC worker suggested different types of pictures like one of her family and one of her friends at school. After several different pictures, Sally drew a picture of a classroom friend who asks many questions. Sally described how the constant questions annoyed her and made it difficult to concentrate.

Seizing on this bit of information, the SOC worker asked Sally to draw a picture of what happens in her head when she can’t concentrate. This time, Sally’s picture revealed that rather than concentrating on her math homework, Sally’s head was filled with concern about her biological mother and trying to figure out ways that she could take care of her mother. With a better understanding of Sally’s concern for her mother, the foster family and the SOC worker were able to develop ways to help Sally address her anxieties.

Shortly after the drawing session, another piece of the puzzle for Sally fell into place. During a visit to the eye doctor, it was determined that Sally’s eyes do not naturally cross the “center line of sight.”Sally’s right eye could only see on the right side and her left eye could only see on the left. The doctor prescribed vision therapy to help train her eyes and brain to create the “natural crossing” action.

After several months of vision therapy and addressing Sally’s concerns about her biological mother, her school work and behavior are improving. Through the SOC program and her foster family’s support, Sally now has the tools she needs to better address the distractions inside and outside of her head.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the family.

Collinsville Staff: Raising Awareness

The Collinsville Staff at One Hope United, celebrated GO BLUE month in all programs by raising awareness in the community. Workers in the Family Support Program, Visitation Program, Intact Services, System of Care, Functional Family Therapy, and Multisystemic Therapy all shared knowledge throughout the month with those they came in contact with to acknowledge Child Abuse Prevention Month. This awareness was made by sharing knowledge during community interactions and supporting the cause by wearing t-shirts designed by supervisor, Brionne Rhodes for all staff. These shirts help spread the word of child abuse month and allow the workers to support the cause while the carried out their daily work working with our families in their homes.

Staff all met together on 4/29/14 to share in the support of child abuse prevention month.  Way to go!

From L-R: Corinne Fish (SOC) Tammy Wick (VS), Brionne Rhodes (Supervisor), Brigette Spellbring (Intact), Rebecca Chavez (Intact), Cherrel Beck (FSS), Amy Sanders(Intact), Kristen Kinnear (SOC), Tina Reed (VS), Michelle Rommerskirchen (FSS), Kara Lowry (FFT), and Jayne Wetzel (FSS)