Help America's Premature Foster Care Infants !

by Angels In Waiting
Vetted
Exciting news for Angels in Waiting!
Under the reign of President Lyndon B Johnson, a program was created that would allow nurses to provide medically fragile foster children quality care from the comfort of their own homes. Though this program has been in existence for over 50 years, it lied dormant in every state. In 2013, Angels in Waiting resurrected this bill in the state of California, and today thousands of nurses are providing care for these medically fragile foster children through Medi-Cal. 
Recently, a loving woman from the great state of Texas inquired about her ability to provide this type of loving home care in her state. Sadly we needed to inform her that this program is dormant in her state. Well, this wonderful woman decided to take it upon herself to jump through the hoops in order to ensure this program in Texas! 
Lori Mendoza, working in conjunction with a state represenitive, is spearheading the Angels in Waiting bill in the Lone Star state! With AIW's knowledge and her dedication to this wonderful cause, we are so hopeful to see AIW's bill on the legislative docket this fall! 
If you live in the state of Texas, please keep an eye out for AIW when it comes time to vote! With your help, so many Angels in Waiting will find loving homes to provide for them! 
Team Angel Wing
Team Angel Wing

Introducing Team Angel Wing!!!

 

Angels in Waiting is excited to introduce, in partnership with LA County Department of Children and Family Services, our new Team Angel Wing program. This community awareness and outreach program is designed to work directly with major hospitals within LA County to help ensure placement of their medically fragile foster children with Independent Nurse Providers who can care for their specialized needs from home.

 

These children often spend weeks to months at a time in NICU and PICU wards, as their specialized care cannot be safely handled in regular foster homes or institutional care settings and group homes are full with no availability for these precious souls. Angels in Waiting ‘s new State Law gives Independent Nurse Providers priority consideration for the placement of these medically fragile infants and children. AIW’s innovative nursing program provides the needed nursing care to help this population thrive, and they do so through the loving hearts and hands of nurses, in the comfort of loving homes, receiving the special care they deserve.

 

Angels in Waiting has created special “gift baskets” for our medically fragile foster care population as an awareness and outreach campaign for LA hospital’s pediatric units. AIW’s “Team Angel Wing” campaign includes brochures about our nursing program, an award winning Children’s book called “The Wish”, about the plight of America’s foster children, and Sammy, our “crisis comfort penguin”. Sammy was created to help our medically fragile foster care children cope with numerous painful medical procedures and frequent placement into numerous foster homes. Not only does Sammy come with angel wings, he comes with a special pouch, in which these children can write or draw out their fears and tuck them into Sammy’s pouch for safekeeping. Indeed, AIW’s therapeutic stuffed toy was summoned to help many Newtown Connecticut children in crisis heal in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting.

 

With each donation Angels in Waiting receives, we can help supply Sammy’s crisis penguins and The Wish story books for these children to learn they are not alone and people do care. These children lack the safety and security that most children never have to doubt. Every little thing Angels in Waiting can do in order to help these children feel safe on their journey to finding forever homes is one small step in the right direction.

 

Go Team Angel Wing

Autumn & Sammy
Autumn & Sammy
Our Team Angel Wing Crate for Pediatrics Units
Our Team Angel Wing Crate for Pediatrics Units

Links:

James and his family
James and his family

ANOTHER AIW NURSE'S ANGEL STORY

When we first met James he was four and a half years old and weighed only 28 lbs. James behaved wildly and was completely non-verbal. He could not form words and only mumbled non-coherently. It was painfully obvious how deeply he had been neglected at home. His hair had never been cut and was obstructing my ability to administer his breathing treatments. I later obtained a court order allowing him his first haircut. When we would play, he couldn’t identify the differences in shapes and colors or differentiate between letters and numbers. James never would establish eye contact with us or anyone. In his previous home, he spent so much time in a play pen that even his walking skills were underdeveloped.

Because of James’ combative behavior, the hospital wanted to ensure I could effectively care for him and required us to do seven hospital visits with James before he could come home with us. James’ anger was valid—he never had one person to focus loving and consistent attention on him. Those first weeks together required a great amount of patience, love, understanding and compassion in order for us to build trust, but slowly we became a family.

Now James is a rambunctious, Lego-loving 6-year-old and in school. He is reading independently and ahead of most of his classmates.Due to his early neglect, he struggles the most with his social skills when interacting with others. He is an active kid that loves to play and eat. Except for a few days of hospital care to treat his nine cavities, four extractions and two crowns, James has not required extended hospitalization since he has been with us. We are trying to keep his life as ‘normal’ as possible even though daily he takes about 15 medications and  does three and a half hours of breathing treatments. He now walks and talks freely and makes eye contact when you engage him. When I took him back to the hospital for an appointment, the staff that used to care for him did not even recognize him.

Our dream for James’ future is for him to maintain his health well enough to eventually give back to his community. James is warm and charismatic and has the charm and personality of cuteness—he has a great heart and could do big things in this world. James has brought great love and joy into our lives and we are constantly in awe of his amazing achievements despite his struggles. James is an amazing person. We are very appreciative of Angels in Waiting’s work to bring kids like James into the homes of nurses. I know our consistent love of James combined with skilled medical care has given him the opportunity for a joyful childhood. Thank you for supporting AIW!

THANK YOU FOR MAKING YOUR 2015 TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION TO AIW TODAY!

Sophia
Sophia's drawing of her family.

AIW NURSE SHARES HER ANGEL’S STORY

As I peeked into the swaddled blankets surrounding my newest “patient” on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a major hospital, I fell in love almost immediately with the precious little, 4-pound infant girl who had been born with Gastroschisis just 2 weeks earlier at 34 weeks. Gastroschisis is a birth defect that causes the intestines to protrude from a hole in the abdomen. Gastroschisis is an extremely variant disease and affected infants can present with minimal to severe damage. Sophia’s case was very complicated, and she was hospitalized from birth to 11 months of age.

After my first shift of caring for Sophia, I signed up to serve as her “primary nurse.” The NICU where I worked strongly encouraged the role of primary RN because it provided vital continuity of care that was essential for critically ill babies. As a primary RN, you become so attuned with “your” baby that you recognize even the slightest fluctuation in their medical status and can quickly implement appropriate interventions. Far beyond her lengthy hospitalization, this adorable “lil peanut” would take me on a journey that not only challenged my nursing skills but stretched my heartstrings fully and completely.

For approximately 4-6 months of Sophia’s stay in the NICU, we were in an isolation room – just her and me. With no other patient to care for and no other nurse to talk to, Sophia received my undivided attention for 36-48 hours per week. Needless to say, a strong bond developed. I sang to her, read to her, held her and prayed over her. I bought her clothes and blankets. I took them home and washed them. I nursed her through multiple painful and difficult surgeries. I advocated for her in multiple ways, often leaving detailed instructions regarding her specific needs/cares for other nurses to follow on my days off.

However, due to the many post-surgical complications related to her intestines, we were still unable to feed Sophia via her stomach, so she remained on intravenous Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN). Long-term TPN can cause permanent liver damage. She had a gastrostomy (G-tube) that leaked excessively and wasn’t useful for feeding directly into her stomach. A jejunum (J-tube) was also placed in the hope that bypassing the stomach and feeding directly to the small intestine would allow a decrease in TPN administration. The skin on her abdomen easily became excoriated from gastric acid leakage and required frequent wound/skin care.

When Sophia was approximately 9 months of age, I began training her mother for discharge home. At a little over 10 months of age, the medical team decided to transfer Sophia from the NICU to the Pediatrics Step-Down Unit, where they could better manage her care and facilitate discharge planning. Exactly a month later, I carried Sophia in my arms outside to a waiting car. I watched the captivated expression on her little face as she felt the soft whisper of a gentle breeze for the very first time. I watched her drive away and my heart was hopeful that she would thrive in her mother’s care.

Sadly, in the ensuing four months, Sophia was re-hospitalized many, many times. I learned her mother was not compliant with medical directives. Sophia was suffering as a result. When Sophia was 15 months old, Child Protective Services removed her from her mother’s custody. She was subsequently placed into a pediatric sub-acute facility. I visited Sophia often while she was in the facility and quickly recognized that she was not receiving the level of medical/nursing care she needed. I watched the “light” go out of her eyes. I knew she simply could not thrive there. I came home after one visit in particular and told my husband that I feared for Sophia’s life. I asked him if he would consider opening our “empty nest” to this precious little girl so we could provide not only the appropriate nursing care, but also the love, stability and security she so richly deserved. He agreed and we began the foster parent process.

With the help of Angels in Waiting, we were finally approved as a nurse foster provider. Sophia was 21 months old when she arrived at our home. She still had severe leaking issues with her G-tube and J-tube, her abdominal skin was painfully compromised as a result. She had frequent stool and vomiting and was unable to eat food due to extreme oral aversion; she was not yet walking and she received TPN through the Central Venous Line in her chest for 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. She basically required 24/7 round-the-clock nursing. I subsequently took a leave of absence from my job on the NICU. I was totally confident that Sophia would thrive in our care. And she did.

Progress was achieved incrementally. One-by-one obstacles were overcome as I worked closely with her medical team. The gastrostomy was surgically closed. After trial and error, a formula was found that could be administered through the J-tube without diarrhea or vomiting. Leaking remained an issue, but creative ways to address the leakage and protect the skin were employed frequently. Consistent and sterile line care eliminated her prior frequent hospitalizations for line infections. In fact, Sophia did not have one line infection from the time she arrived in my home until it was surgically removed two years later. Increased administration of formula via the J-tube allowed the infusion of intravenous TPN to be decreased as well. I began to seek out occupational therapy to help Sophia overcome the oral aversion. For a year and a half, I drove her to 4 hours round trip to Children’s Hospital of Orange County two times a week so she could participate in one of the best occupational therapy programs on the West Coast. Slowly, she learned to tolerate a variety of textures and tastes of food, albeit in very small amounts. The ability to eat by mouth – combined with the rate/amount of formula now tolerated through the J-tube – allowed us to stop the TPN altogether.

Today, Sophia is 6-1/2 years old. She has been with us for 5 years. It is truly miraculous to witness the joy of this beautiful, precocious, and intelligent little girl who has overcome so much to run and play and laugh. She loves us (her Nana and Papa) and our home. She is a blessing to everyone she meets. The last hurdle to overcome is the removal of her J-tube. For now, she gets supplemental formula feedings during the night in order maintain her weight. She eats food just like any other kid; however, she doesn’t absorb the nutrients as effectively due to her shortened bowel. Nonetheless, we remain optimistic. Three years ago, we were granted legal guardianship of Sophia. One year ago, we filed to adopt her. The ending has yet to be written. But one thing is certain. Sophia is a gift from Heaven. We will always be thankful for her in our lives.

Honorable Karen Bass and AIW Founder Linda West
Honorable Karen Bass and AIW Founder Linda West

Angels in Waiting (AIW) is Working to End Child Sex Trafficking

Every year, in Los Angeles alone, at least 120 minors are sold into sex trafficking and the number of unreported child victims is likely much higher. Eighty percent of these youth are foster children. With few community and familial resources, these minors are often lured into the trade by trafficker’s deceptive offers of emotional and financial support—the lack of a stable and safe home makes these children vulnerable to the trafficker’s grasp. Once forced into the sex trade, children face violence on a daily basis and too many have been the victims of murder. Unfortunately the problem is systemic; often girls are recruited from group foster facilities by other foster kids on behalf of sex traffickers. Child welfare agencies throughout Los Angeles are diligently coordinating to provide innovative preventative and rehabilitative services to at-risk and rescued sex trafficked youth, but they need our help.

At a town hall meeting on November 21, 2015 AIW came together with local foster advocacy groups and government officials—including the Honorable Congressmember Karen Bass— to address this issue as a community. When asked to speak, our founder Linda West-Conforti, RN highlighted the ability of nurses to work against child sex trafficking if only the law (Title 22) was amended to include nurses as foster care providers of at-risk youth. With over 300,000 nurses in California alone, AIW could play an enormous role in bringing at-risk foster children into the hearts and homes of nurses. Nurse foster parents are skilled, comprehensive caregivers that can provide loving and supportive home environments. A stable home and supportive childhood is the best defense in preventing sex traffickers from preying on our children. The Honorable Karen Bass immediately agreed that nurses have great potential in providing stability and safety to this vulnerable population.

AIW is now beginning the process of working with Karen Bass’ office to change Title 22 so that nurses all over the country can be first responders in providing homes for foster youth threatened by sex trafficking. With your support, we will grow our administrative and strategic efforts in order to make change in the law as soon as possible—these youth are growing up in life threatening circumstances and can’t wait.

Your donation will allow us to be more effective and swift in laying the ground work for impacting the law. In 2005, AIW changed California law in order to give nurses priority consideration in the placement of medically fragile foster infants and children. Your support will enable nurses to lovingly serve this equally vulnerable population of children. Thank you for protecting and saving the lives and childhoods of foster youth through your support of AIW!

Photo Caption

The Honorable Karen Bass and AIW Founder Linda West-Conforti, RN at the ‘Foster Youth and the Link to Sex Trafficking’ town hall meeting in Los Angeles 11/21/15.

 

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Organization Information

Angels In Waiting

Location: Blue Jay, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.angelsinwaitingUSA.org
Project Leader:
Linda West-Conforti RN
Blue Jay, Ca United States
$50,877 raised of $100,000 goal
 
1,247 donations
$49,123 to go
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