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December 2017
Calendar:
19- Holiday Party
22- Office will be closed
25- Merry Christmas 
December Birthdays: 1st - Amanda Funk, 4th - Glenda Reynolds, 12th - Barb Hackney, 17th - Jay Warner, 20th - Kim Meier, 30th - Chris Zuelke. 
In-Service:
The Holiday party will take the place of December In-service.
This will be a networking opportunity for fellow CASA and CRB volunteers. 

Foster Care & The Holidays 

By: Dr. John N. DeGarmo, Ed.D. 

The stockings are hung, by the chimney with care, in hopes that...In hopes of what? For many children who have been placed into the foster care system, they have come from homes where there was no Christmas, there was no hope. They have come from families that did not celebrate a holiday. They have come from environments where there were no presents, no tree. They have come from homes where there was not holiday joy or love.

The Holiday season is upon us. Christmas, Hanukah, New Years, Kwanzaa; these are times that can be extremely difficult for many foster children. During this time of Holiday Cheer, many foster children are faced with the realization that they will not be “home for the holidays,” so to speak, with their biological family members. When they wake up Christmas morning, and are surrounded by people who just may be strangers to them, strangers who are laughing and having fun, it can be a very difficult time for them, indeed. To be sure, it is a day that is a stark reminder to these children that they are not with their own family. It is during the holidays when families are supposed to be together, yet these children in care are not. They are not with their families, and they may not know when they will see them next.

Along with this, foster children also struggle with trying to remain loyal to their birth parents while enjoying the holiday season with their foster family. There are those moments when a child from foster care may feel guilty for experiencing joy and laughter with their foster family, they may feel that they are not only letting their birth mother or father down, they might even be betraying their birth parents and member of their biological family, causing even more grief, guilt, and anxiety within the child during this season of holiday joy. Indeed, this can be a very emotionally stressful time for all involved.

As one who has fostered many children, myself, during the holiday time, I have found that it is important to address these issues beforehand. Before Thanksgiving, before Christmas, before Hanukah; even before family members and friends come to visit, foster parents need to prepare their foster child ahead of time.

To begin with, foster parents can best help their foster child by spending some time and talking about the holiday. Perhaps the holiday being celebrated in their new home is one that their birth family never celebrated, or is a holiday that is unfamiliar with them. Let the foster child know how your family celebrates the holiday, what traditions your family celebrate, and include the child in it.

Ask your foster child about some of the traditions that his family had, and try to include some of them into your own home during the holiday. This will help him not only feel more comfortable in your own home during this time, but also remind him that he is important, and that his birth family is important, as well. Even if his traditions are ones that you do not celebrate in your own home, try to include some of his into your own holiday celebration, in some way and some fashion.

Far too many children have come to my own home and have never celebrated their birthday, have never sung a Christmas carol, have never opened up a present. Perhaps you have had similar experiences, as well. Sadly, this is not uncommon for children in foster care. It is important to keep in mind that many foster children may come from a home where they did not celebrate a particular season, nor have any traditions in their own home. What might be common in your own home may be completely new and even strange to your foster child. This often includes religious meanings for the holiday you celebrate. Again, take time to discuss the meaning about your beliefs to your foster child beforehand.

More than likely, your foster child will have feelings of sadness and grief, as he is separated from his own family during this time of family celebration.

After all, he is separated from his family during a time that is supposed to be centered AROUND family. However much you provide for him, however much love you give to him, you are still not his family.

Like so many children in foster care, they want to go home, to live with their family members, despite the abuse and trauma they may have suffered from them, and despite all that you can and do offer and provide for him. Therefore, this time of holiday joy is especially difficult.

You can help him by allowing him to talk about his feelings during the holidays. Ask him how he is doing, and recognize that he may not be happy, nor enjoy this special time.

Look for signs of depression, sadness, and other emotions related to these. Allow him space to privately grieve, if he needs to, and be prepared if he reverts back to some behavior difficulties he had when he first arrived into your home. You may find that he becomes upset, rebellious, or complains a lot. Along with this, he may simply act younger than he is during this time. After all, he is trying to cope with not being with his own family during this time when families get together. These feelings and these actions are normal, and should be expected. You can also help your foster child by sending some cards and/or small gifts and presents to their own parents and birth family members. A card or small gift to his family members can provide hope and healing for both child and parent, and help spread some of the holiday cheer that is supposed to be shared with all.

Each family has that crazy old Aunt Ethel, loud and obnoxious Uncle Fred, and the ever hard of hearing and over whelming Grandma Lucy.

Your family is used to these relatives and their personalities, your child in foster care is not.

If you have family members visit your home, prepare your foster child for this beforehand. Let him know that the normal routine in your home may become a little “crazy” during this time, that it may become loud, and describe some of the “characters” from your own family that may be coming over to visit. Remind him of the importance of using good behavior and manners throughout this period. Along with this, remind your own family members that your foster child is a member of your family, and should be treated as such.

Remind them that he is to be treated as a member of the family, and not to judge him or his biological family members, or fire questions at him. This also includes gift giving. If your own children should be receiving gifts from some of your family members, your foster child should, as well. Otherwise, your foster child is going to feel left out, and his sadness and grief will only increase.

Be prepared, though, for some in your family not to have presents and gifts for him. Have some extra ones already wrapped, and hidden away somewhere, ready to be brought out, just in case.

With a little preparation beforehand from you, this season of joy can be a wonderful time for your foster child, one that may last in his memory for a life time, as well as in your memory, too. After all, the gift of love is one that can be shared, not only during the holidays, but all year long.

fosterfocusmag.com


Book of the month:
Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir  
By Shenandoah Chefalo
Shenandoah Chefalo is on a wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug-and alcohol addicted parents. She endures numerous moves in the middle of the night with just minutes to pack, multiple changes in schools, hunger, cruelty, and loneliness. Overcoming many adversities, Shen became part of the 3% of all foster care children who get into college, and the 1% who graduate. Despite her numerous achievements in life though, she still suffers from the long-term effects of neglect, and the coping skills that she adapted in her childhood are not always productive in her adult life. Garbage Bag Suitcase is not only the inspiring and hair-raising story of one woman’s journey to over- come her desolate childhood, but it also presents grass-root solutions on how to revamp the broken foster care system.
It is the season of giving and many people are looking for more personal ways to give other than monetary donations but it is also a very busy time so CASA has come up with a "wish list" of specific items that would benefit the program. Some of the items from this list can be found on the programs Amazon list: https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/19YF9Y97OKBEI/ref=cm_wl_huc_view  CASA's wish list was also featured in the Wichita Eagle:
 http://www.kansas.com/entertainment/holidays/article186596863.html
The list will be maintained and update year round on Amazon and the programs website: http://www.9thcasa.org/give.html. If you know of anyone who would like to support CASA but does not have time to commit to being a volunteer please consider sharing this information. Items purchased from the wish list will help keep administrative costs low. All items will be used for volunteer recruitment & training, volunteer support and mass communication to volunteers and donors.
Giving Tuesday is a National movement that takes place every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. CASA would like to thank board member Kathy Wiens for opening her home to host an open house this year for CASA on Giving Tuesday. 
Thank you to Barb Hackney, Kathy Wiens, and Kristen Mosel for all of their hard work to make this event successful! Watch for the CHAIRishing CASA kids event in 2018 and let us know if there is anyway that you would like to be involved. 
Amazon makes holiday shopping easy plus a portion of your purchase will be donated to CASA when you use Amazon Smile. 


CASA: A Voice for Children, Inc. is a United Way Partner Agency.






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CASA A Voice for Children, Inc. · Harvey County Court House · P.O. Box 687 · Newton, KS 67114 · USA

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