These are busy times at Athens County Children Services! As we recognize National Foster Care Awareness Month, plans are in store for our Foster Parent Appreciation Banquet as well as our 2nd Annual Foster Care Awareness Walk. We're beginning work on a new campaign that will encourage parents to make good choices about their partners; this campaign will kick off later in the month. Ground has been broken for our community garden, located behind our visitation center. Finally, a group of agency employees and our board chair just wrapped up three days of planning for the future of the agency.
As always, we encourage you to forward this newsletter to your friends and family who may be interested in the work that Athens County Children Services does each day to support families and keep children safe.
Insights Editor and Public Relations & Community Events Coordinator
|An introduction to Placement|
When children come into the custody of Athens County Children Services, the Placement Unit is responsible for securing a safe environment for the child to live in. Children grow better in families; therefore, our primary goal is to find a relative or foster care providers who are willing to provide temporary care for the child. While the child is in this placement, his or her family work through the issues that led the child to be removed.
When a relative cannot be identified for the child to be placed with, foster parents provide care until family reunification with a family member can occur. If reunification is not possible, the child can become eligible for adoption or remain with his or her foster parents, who make a permanent commitment to care for the child.
Additionally, the Placement Unit is responsible for recruiting and licensing foster parents. There is a specific need for foster caregivers who are:
Able to provide a caring environment for children until they are able to return home.
Are willing to parent children of all ages, including teenagers.
Able to parent a sibling group of two or more children.
Reside in Nelsonville-York, Alexander Local, Athens City, Federal Hocking, and Trimble school districts.
The Independent Living Program is another part of the Placement Unit. Our Independent Living Caseworker works with teens who are in foster care, teaching them basic life skills as they transition to adulthood. The program is educationally-oriented and encourages youth to remain in high school until graduation. It also assists participants with their post-secondary educational needs and training.
We are excited to announce the addition of new supports for kinship families. A Kinship Caseworker is being added to the Placement Unit to meet the needs of the growing number of kinship families who are caring for relative's children in Athens County. We expect this program to be staffed and begin providing services during the summer!
|The ACCS Garden Project |
An update from AmeriCorps Member Shannon Healey and Master Gardener/ACCS Board Chair Nancy Schell
This spring marks the start of the ACCS Garden Project. We hope that through the process of starting and maintaining a garden, families at the Visitation Center will learn more about growing cycle, nutritious eating habits, and healthy family activities.
Many of the families who come to the Visitation Center have limited access to fresh vegetables. Through this venture, we aim to not only provide them with fresh produce, but also facilitate a robust learning experience to show how gardening is cost effective and benefits the mind, body, and spirit. While this is a new initiative, it is one we plan to continue annually with possible expansion in the future. We will plant a variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables so that families will have a wide breadth of exposure to healthy food that is not normally available to them.
The community garden plot is 20x20 feet, and is located behind the Visitation Center. The garden has fencing to protect is from deer and other wildlife. Children will decorate the fencing and be included on the overall design of the garden itself. OSU Master Gardeners will assist on construction, planting, development, and the teaching of an educational component. The curriculum will be structured so that families can determine their own level of participation, ranging from sporadically weeding to a steadfast commitment with lessons for each phase of the growing cycle.
Through the experience of caring for a garden, we hope that each family will take away memories of nurturing both the earth and one another. We hope that each child will gain a greater understanding of where their food originates and that those lessons will foster healthier eating habits in the future. Our ultimate goal is for families to take ownership of this project and have fun growing fresh food, so they may be encouraged to grow gardens at home.
Editor's note: I walked out to the garden this morning, and I'm happy to say that the fence is up and seeds for red kale and lettuce have been planted.
|Upcoming Events |
Foster Care Awareness Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month aims to educate families and community members on what child abuse is and how to prevent it by supporting parents and strengthening families.
May 14, 2010
Foster Parent Appreciation Banquet
The hard work and dedication of Athens County foster parents will be recognized at our 32nd Annual Foster Parent Appreciation Banquet.
May 26, 2010
Choose Your Partner Carefully Kick-Off
Join us as we kick-off our newest campaign, Choose Your Partner Carefully. The training session will take place in the basement of Building 14 at Athens County Children Services. For more information, please call Sherri Oliver at (740) 592-3061.
May 28, 2010
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
2nd Annual Foster Care Awareness Walk
Join staff, foster parents, youth and community members as we embark on our second annual Foster Care Awareness Walk. Making our way from the Athens County Courthouse to the front lawn of Athens County Children Services, we hope to increase community awareness surrounding the reality of foster care in our community. A high school graduation party for youth currently in care will be held from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. For more information about the walk, contact Tracy Whitmore at (740) 592-3061.
Editor/Public Relations and Community Events Coordinator
Athens County Children Services
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please call:
(M-F, 8:00am - 4:30pm)
(After-hours, weekends, holidays)
If you would like more information on foster care and adoption, please call:
(M-F, 8:00am - 4:30pm)
Shelton is a teenager that loves to be outside. He enjoys fishing or doing any kind of outdoor activity. He also enjoys woodworking projects and creating different things. Shelton is a kid who values people more than material possessions and says that his adoptive family wouldn't have to have a lot of money. As long as they are kind to him, pay attention to him, and do activities with him, Shelton says he would be happy. Shelton's foster parents describe him as a "hard-working kid" and enjoy having him in their home.
Shelton has an IEP at school. He takes medication to manage his behavior. Shelton is emotionally much younger than his chronological age. He has siblings with whom he would like to stay in contact. Shelton is in counseling and would need to continue.
Please visit our website for more information on Shelton.
Courtney is a very inquisitive girl who likes to talk and ask questions about anything and everything. She has a quirky sense of humor and can, at times, be very blunt about what's on her mind! She is a good artist and especially enjoys working with beads.
Courtney is in counseling to work through a very painful past. She needs a committed family that would be willing to participate in counseling and help her process these past issues. Although Courtney can be affectionate once she has learned to trust and feel safe, she struggles with personal boundaries. She will need a family that can be firm and consistent.
For more information on Courtney, please visit our website.
We would like to congratulate ACCS
employee Mandi Knowlton on accepting a new position as a full-time
Family Support Worker. Mandi has worked at ACCS
for close to three years as a part-time Intake Screener. Congrats,
We'd like to welcome Katie Murphy to our Family Services Unit. Katie was an Ohio University UPP Intern, and has been hired as a part-time Family Services Aid. Katie will begin her full-time work as a Family Services Caseworker at ACCS after graduating from Ohio University in June. Congrats, Katie!