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Between Families – August 2021

By August 6, 2021October 5th, 2023No Comments

Back to School

Just like that Summer is nearly over!
Here are some helpful tips to help prepare foster children for their return to school.

  1. Make the return to school EXCITING!
    Ensure your child is aware of the opportunities at school that will be available, especially activities and interests specific to the child. If he or she loves music, involve them in band or vocal. If your child loves sports, encourage them to try out for basketball, football or other athletic teams he or she is interested in.
  2. Involve them!
    Let your child be part of picking out their clothing, school supplies and packing their lunches.
  3. Develop a sleep routine!
    Develop a sleep routine and ensure your child is getting eight hours a sleep a night to be fully rested for the school day. Getting the right amount of sleep can give the body what is needed to function correctly. Once you identify a bed time that works best for your child, stick to it!
  4. Connect with Teachers!
    Reach out to your child’s teacher and give the teacher an overview with information concerning the child without breaking confidentiality. Let the teacher know of challenges the child is facing and strengths/needs that will help the child excel in the classroom!
  5. Get Involved!
    Stay connected with the teacher/principal to monitor your child’s academic/social progress. Volunteer in the school regularly or sign up to help with special projects/events. Participate in the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), or attend on-going monthly school meetings. Any of these options is a great start to staying involved!

Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month

Blair and Morgan Wilkinson have been fostering with TFI for more than a year and have had multiple siblings placed in their home. They go above and beyond for any child in their care to ensure their needs are meet. If a child in their care is in need of additional services, they advocate on behalf of the child to ensure services are obtained. They understand the importance of keeping siblings connected and placed together in their home. They value the importance of bridging with the birth family to keep the parents and children connected. Since becoming certified, they have shown to be exemplary foster parents. We are blessed to have such an amazing family and really appreciate everything they do to care for children in DHS custody.


Oklahoma News


Oklahoma foster parents are invited to attend our monthly virtual support group meetings. Our next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. August 17. There are door prizes given throughout the one-hour meeting as we discuss parenting tips, any policy changes and invite participants to participate in discussion of pertinent information. An invite will be sent via email to all foster parents prior to the meeting and a reminder email sent the week prior to our meeting. You will receive one hour of training credit for attending. Please join us in August. If you have any topics you would like to discuss, please talk to your worker or their supervisor prior to the meeting.

Texas Care Provider of the Month

This month we would like to highlight foster parents Shaun and Janessa Skiles. The Skiles reside in Tom Bean, Texas, where they are raising their amazing family. The Skiles became licensed foster parents with TFI in December 2016. Since then, they have fostered-to-adopt a group of five siblings.

The Skiles family enjoys spending quality time by going to church, the zoo, nature walks, gardening, playing outside, and roasting marshmallows together. Janessa enjoys homeschooling the children as well. “One most memorable moment was being at counseling for one of our children when the counselor asked some questions,” she said. “Our child responded, ‘That’s OK, my parents are enough. I’ll talk to them about it.’” They graduated from counseling that day!

We are so proud to highlight this exceptional family as a Texas TFI Foster Family. They exemplify everything our mission to strengthen families is all about.

Kansas Care Provider of the Month

Kansas would like to recognize Summer and Cory Boren. These two work very hard for the children they have taken in! This year they took on another child that has behaviors.

They would never give up on the girls they have taken in and are dedicated to giving them the best care possible no matter what. Whatever the needs of their children, they go out of their way to deliver without complaint. They love them and spoil their foster children!

Training Corner

Preparing Kids for a New School Year

As day-to-day functions become more normal, some students are questioning what the return to school this fall will look like. The feeling of uncertainty results in anxious feelings for students of all ages, no matter if they are part of your biological family or youth that you are fostering. There are many strategies to help ease anxious feelings and the stress of this transition, while helping children become excited about the next school year. Some of those strategies are listed below. (Keagan Schlosser, 2021)

  1. Talk with the children in your home – In the weeks leading back to your child’s first day of classes, begin talking to them about what school may look like this fall. With the rise in COVID cases across the country, it’s important to begin talking to them about the possibility of changes that may occur during the semester, and those changes will be OK. Discuss what that would look like for your family.
  2. Provide Stability/Structure – Structure, routines and stability can provide comfort when children’s lives are faced with uncertainty. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to start them on their typical school year routines. Create a schedule that can be posted somewhere the child will see it daily to help remind them of what they can expect. Have a picture of your schedule for children that aren’t strong readers yet and a written schedule for older youth. The bathroom is a great place to post it for them to see. Things to include are morning routines, after school routines for the late afternoon and evening/bedtime routines.
  3. Talk about worries/anxieties – Ask the children in your home what they are looking forward to about the upcoming school year and what they think might be different. This is a great way to figure out how they’re feeling. Stick to facts and remove your own anxieties and opinions from the conversation. Talking about the items they seem anxious about is important. Discuss with them coping skills and role-playing situations, while providing opportunities for breaks. Be sure to offer hugs, and appropriate touches can also help them reduce the feelings of anxiety they are experiencing.
  4. Talk with them about making new friends – Many kids, especially those starting at a new school, experience anxiety as it pertains to making new friends. These fears and anxieties tend to surround fears of isolation or not being accepted by peers. Coaching your children on how to introduce themselves and asking an individual if they would like to play together, sit together at lunch or walk together in the hall is a great way to prepare them for these social interactions. Making eye contact and role playing what to do when they meet someone new are both great ways to prepare them for making new friends.
  5. Get them familiar with their school – Many schools have staff present the first week of August as well as during the enrollment period. Allow your child to attend enrollment with you or find a time to take them up to the school so they can see where their classes are, identify teachers rooms and locate the school nurse, counselor, principal and social worker’s offices. Be sure to make your child aware that all of these people are safe to go to when you are feeling big emotions or need help.
  6. Include the children in your family in the preparation process – Letting the children in your family help get ready for going back to school helps them become excited about school. Let them pick out their backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies. Let them help plan a menu of what they would like to have packed in their lunch boxes.

Read the article below, fill out the quiz and send to your worker for credit. 

Need Additional Training?

Check out these other training opportunities in August

Recruitment Spotlight

We are in the middle of the summer heat and I’m not sure about all of you, but I’m ready for those 40-degree temperatures again.

The TFI Recruitment Department has a lot going on this coming year, and we are excited to share it with all of you as the year progresses. We have a lot of new staff in our recruitment department, and I want to take this time to introduce everyone so you know who your recruiter is.

Curtis Anderson – Recruitment Supervisor:
Cathy May – Kansas Southern Recruiter:
Torianna Zabel – Kansas Northern Recruiter:
Tom Porter – Oklahoma Recruiter:

Be on the lookout for all the great things we have coming at you. Be sure to check your emails on a regular basis. If you find us in your spam folder, please add us so we show up in your inbox.

Don’t forget, we continue to offer our Ambassador referrals starting at $500 for each family you refer who becomes a TFI Licensed Foster Home. The more families you recruit – the more you can make.

Thanks again and as always, “Happy Recruiting!”

Jason Cecil
Director of Regional RecruitmentFund Development

It’s back to school for all the kiddos, and we will be having our annual Back to School Fundraiser. Please keep an eye out for emails and social media posts about the fundraiser.

The next event on our calendar is our Blues, Brews & Bites which will be at Ward Meade Park in Topeka, Kan., on September 11!  Our last festival was in 2019 and it was an amazing event. TFI partners with The Topeka Blues Society, and they bring in bands from all over the U.S. There’s still time to sponsor, donate to our silent auction or buy your tickets!

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any contacts, questions, or fun stories of generosity at 785-213-6161 or at Thanks for all you do!

Oklahoma/Texas: Steven Mandeville | 918-728-3378 | 
Kansas/Nebraska: Sheila Kearney | 785-213-6161 | 
Events & Volunteer Coordinator: Libby Hayden | 785-294-6606 |

The winner of this month’s newsletter giveaway is Emily Lock. Emily, to claim your $25 Amazon gift card, please email your foster care worker and tell them you won the giveaway. You must email your worker within the month of August to accept your prize.

Happy Anniversary

Thank you for opening your hearts and homes to children in need.

16 Years
Harold (Ed) & Suzette Rakestraw

15 Years
Barbara Carter

10 Years
Matthew & Eva Preston

5 Years
Jonathan “Jon” & Joanne Yoder

1 Year 
Jessica & Rachael Navarro
Richard & Steffanie Cox
Andrew & Emily Hendrich
Barry & Karen Morgan
Jason & Michaela Farquharson
Christopher “Ryan” & Holly Tullous
Daniel “Danny” & Angela “Angie” Sartain
Arianna McGee
Linda Harris