We recently sent out a "thank you" to one of our partners in giving, We-Care.com, for the recent reminder that kind acts can be found everywhere, and how a little kindness goes a long way. When facing the enormous needs of the populations that nonprofits serve, it is often hard not to feel overwhelmed and turn away from the enormity of the problems. At A Home Within we often remind ourselves that if we offer hope and kindness in small packages we are more likely to find inspiration and motivation than guilt and resignation. When our therapists agree to see one current or former foster youth in weekly pro bono psychotherapy "for as long as it takes," that act of kindness is simultaneously both large and small. It's only an hour a week, but it is an hour a week, every week. When they open their office doors, our clinicians open the doors to their hearts—and they carry these young people with them long after therapy has ended.
We are currently raising funds to expand the quality and quantity of services we can provide foster youth. We are a national organization, and some of our national chapters have clients waiting for services. In others, we have therapists waiting for clients. We want to close both of these gaps. We have begun a three-pronged campaign for donations so that we have the funds to recruit more therapists where they are needed and to alert foster youth and foster carers that we are here for them. Everybody is involved in raising funds for A Home Within--even staff members. We believe in what we are doing here, and hope you do, too.
One of our goals at A Home Within is to inform other professionals about the unique needs of foster youth with regard to mental and emotional health. We want every single foster youth to have their needs met, and the first step is ensuring that clinicians, agency staff, and volunteers have the tools they need to help these youth.
To that end, our Executive and various Program Directors offer classes and lectures, and they publish regularly.
We are proud to announce the release of our most recent book: Treating Trauma: Relationship-Based Psychotherapy with Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Authored and edited by A Home Within staff and volunteer clinicians who have worked closely with foster youth, Treating Trauma is a fantastic resource for anybody working with traumatized children.
The funding we get from your generous donations goes a long way to helping us provide materials and resources like Treating Trauma to those who need them. In turn, what clinicians can learn about treating foster youth will only improve the services they offer and give these youth a stronger hand up.
You may be wondering about some of the people your donations will be helping. Here is an example of one call we received from former foster youth Sam (name changed to maintain confidentiality):
Sam: You told me to call you if anything changed in my situation. I'm having a really hard time right now. I am living out of my car, I'm trying to stop using drugs and have lost my best friend. I know I'm not at bottom yet, but I can see myself getting there and I don't know where to start.
A Home Within (AHW): I'm really glad you called. I’m afraid that right now we still don’t have an available therapist we can match you with. Let's see what we can do to get you some support more immediately. Do you currently have a place to sleep?
Sam: Yes, I'm alternating between sleeping in my car and at a friend’s.
AHW: OK, let's connect you with some housing resources so you can have more options. Can you describe your current drug and alcohol intake?
Sam: No hard drugs, but I'm drinking a lot and smoking pot. The problem is, every time I do, I feel terrible about it and ashamed that this is how I am getting by. I don't really have a home to go to, which it makes it harder. I can see myself having some kind of an addiction in the future if I don't change things. And I've been trying. I have. it's just not working.
AHW: OK, what I'm going to do is give you the telephone numbers of some places that specialize in substance use. They may not be long-term services, but can be helpful until we can get you matched with one of our long-term therapists. How does that sound?
Sam: Do you know how long I’ll have to wait to get a therapist?
AHW: I’m sorry, but at this point I really don't know. We’ll do the best we can.
Sam: OK, thanks. I wouldn't have known where to go. Someone gave me your number and said I had to call you. I'm so glad that I know this place exists, now. I can’t do this without help.
Sadly, Sam’s predicament is too common. The unmet mental health needs of foster children and youth are extraordinary. By some estimates only 25% receive treatment. This year we have been able to match 50% of those referred to us. That’s better, but we still have work to do--we would like to reliably provide services to all the current and former foster youth in need.
Fostering Relationships is an A Home Within program designed to support staff and volunteers working with foster youth. Without resources, staff burnout and turnover is alarmingly high. This website provides resources, curricula, and expertise in Relationship-Based Practices for the benefit of staff and youth alike.
Our new Fostering Relationships website is officially up and running! Visit us at www.fosteringrelationships.org—we love its new look and content! We’ve added a new LGBTQ-friendly curriculum that focuses on identity development and a curriculum for staff working with parenting teens. Every program has a beautiful and inspirational deck of cards, and many of the photographs used to decorate the cards were taken by Fostering Art students—another way to highlight the ingenuity and creativity of foster youth. Two decks already have Spanish translations and others are in progress. Registration is easy: You can create a new account in just seconds (either from the top right menu on the home page or from the sign up page that appears when you visit a restricted area of the site). Once a staff member confirms that you have created a valid account, your membership will be activated and you can explore the site at will. We hope you come check it out!
Thanks to your generosity, we are beginning 2013 well positioned to continue to offer high quality, lasting mental health services to children and youth whose lives have been touched by foster care. The financial support of individuals and foundations, coupled with the professional time of our extraordinary network of clinicians who volunteer their services, allows us to create an impressive return on investment. Depending on the size of the Local Chapter, we offer weekly therapy at a cost ranging from $200 to $1000 annually. The structure of A Home Within allows our chapters to grow without increasing overhead costs—this means that we can stretch the dollars you donate to see more foster kids—children and youth in desperate need of services. Foster youth are three times as likely to suffer from serious mental health issues as the general public and are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression. Sadly, foster kids are also almost twice as likely as U.S. war veterans to suffer from PTSD. Because of your help, we will continue to offer therapy that averages more than three years per child—in contrast to the average of 1.3 sessions provided in community clinics. These services give foster children and youth the foundation they need to build healthy relationships.
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