The Holidays in Foster Care
Prepare the foster youth in your care for the holidays in your home. Have a discussion with them about your family’s holiday customs. Do you celebrate over multiple days, or is there one “main” celebration? Are there religious customs? Will gifts be exchanged? What should they wear? Who will they meet? What preparations need to be done in advance? Will there be visitors to the home? Will they be taken on visits to the homes of other family or friends? Knowing what to expect will help decrease anxiety around the holidays. Avoid surprises and you will decrease seasonal tensions. Of equal importance is to help them talk about their memories of the holidays. Be prepared for anything from fantasies to reports of no memories of anything at all. Give them space to talk and be prepared to validate any feelings they may share with you. Find ways to incorporate any traditions they remember into your family’s celebration.
It is important to understand and encourage your youth’s own traditions and beliefs. Encourage discussion about the holiday traditions your young person experienced prior to being in foster care, or even celebrations they liked while living with other foster families. Incorporate the traditions the youth cherish into your own family celebration, if possible. Use the opportunity to investigate the youth’s culture and research customary traditions. If the young person holds a religious belief different from yours, or if their family did, check into the traditions customarily surrounding those beliefs.
Be understanding if they pull away during this time of year. Despite your best efforts, a young person may simply withdraw during the holidays. Understand that this detachment most likely is not intended to be an insult or a reflection of how they feel about you, but rather is their own coping mechanism. Allow for “downtime” during the holidays that will allow the youth some time to themselves if they need it (although some youth would prefer to stay busy to keep their mind off other things — you will need to decide based on your knowledge of the young person). Be sure to fit in one-on-one time, personal time for your youth and you to talk through what they are feeling during this emotional and often confusing time of year.
Kansas Care Provider of the Month
I have been in foster care for over 33 years. I’ve always had a love for kids, and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children besides just my own biological children. I first started because I was working at FSGC as an attendant care provider with a young man that was very challenging, but had so much potential. He was about to be removed from his family’s home and the parents asked if I would be willing to take him into my family. The family and I had grown close and the relationship I had established with this young man was great. So, the decision to say YES was very easy!
I continue to help other children because I feel there is still a need for foster parents, and I feel that I still have something valuable to offer to our young men. The most rewarding thing for me in foster care is the multiple phone calls and Facebook messages that I receive almost weekly from young men that I have blessed to house in my home. They keep me posted on what’s been going on in their lives (good and bad). They often times ask me for advice. Some even attended my mother’s funeral and walked in with the family because that’s exactly what these young men have been to us, FAMILY!!! They call my kids their siblings, my siblings their uncles/aunts, and my mother and father their grandparents. I never respond to these young men as my foster sons, they are called my BONUS SONS! Truth be told, they have probably been more of a blessing to me than I have been to them. I take pride in making sure that they are respectful, work hard in school, keep up with personal hygiene and chores. The same things that I would ask from my biological children.
We hope everyone who attended our foster parent holiday parties had a great time! We sure had fun providing, planning and seeing everyone! Here is a recap of some of the parties we enjoyed!
- For the 7th year in a row the Grandview Methodist Church in Winfield, KS, hosted our Winfield party. They provided the families with a meal, gifts and bags for all foster children and decorated the church for us.
- Our Parsons foster families party had a total of eight families celebrating together and 40 total attendees. The Wesley United Methodist Church gladly hosted and helped gather donations from their church members. Also, a group of lovely ladies from Wesley United Methodist provided a home cooked meal for our foster parents and the kids to enjoy together. Those moments of family mealtime together mean so much.
- Our Topeka party was hosted by the Topeka First Methodist Church. We had about 50 guests who enjoyed dinner, bingo, activities, and Santa at their party!
- Our Fort Scott party had a total of seven families or 25 total guests. The Fort Scott party was hosted by our wonderful foster family, Tracy and Kathy Dancer. The local Fort Scott Rotary Club sponsored the party, providing gifts for all youth in attendance. With these gifts, the children enjoyed a game of a white elephant gift exchange.
- Our Pittsburg foster families celebrated at the PittNaz Church and had a total of 42 attendees!
For those who were unable to make it, we hope your holiday is filled with love and joy! We wish you a happy and healthy holiday, and as always, we appreciate the work you do!
In December, Nebraska staff were still celebrating the licensing of three new homes in less than 30 days. In the first seven days of December, two placements were made. The Nebraska team may be small in size, but are large in heart!
Heartland Lutheran conducted a gift drive for TFI after Supervisor Anne Peterson and FCW Allison Beacon spoke to their high school. Thoughtful students and staff will help put gifts under the tree for foster children. By the time Christmas arrives, TFI Nebraska will have several children celebrating their second Christmas in a TFI foster home.
Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month
Christopher and Mary Stacy have been fostering with TFI since 2019. They had been kinship foster parents with OKDHS and fell in love with foster care. Christopher and Mary have never shied away from taking in large sibling groups and children who might be dealing with some difficult behaviors. They are always very positive about everything and try to find the best in every child. The Stacys show consistency, love, and guidance to the children in their home and have done an excellent job! Thank you, Christopher and Mary Stacy, for being amazing foster parents!
This season the Marble Slab Creamery in Broken Arrow, OK, participated in a toy drive for TFI foster children. We received two big bags of toys and overall, had a very successful turnout of community involvement! TFI Oklahoma really appreciates all the help and passion that Marble Slab Creamery in Broken Arrow has provided for us! They are always willing to let us camp out and talk about foster care, be involved in any events they are participating in, and have been a great partner for TFI in Oklahoma.
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TFI would like to thank Hostess Brands in Lenexa, Kansas and Frito-Lay in Topeka, Kansas for their generous donations and their help in making our recruiting efforts a success. Hostess Brands is a leading sweet snacks company that makes, markets, and distributes snack cakes and other delicious treats throughout the US. Hostess donated over 4,000 snack cakes to TFI for our Recruiters to pass out at the Arkalalah parade in Arkansas City, Kansas. A subsidiary of PepsiCo, Frito-Lay is a snack food company that has been around for over 75 years. TFI Recruiters were also able to secure over 700 bags of potato chips for the Arkalalah parade thanks to the generosity of Frito-Lay. The Arkalalah parade is attended by thousands of people from all across Kansas and we wanted to ensure everyone knew about TFI. Our Recruiters placed TFI stickers on every snack cake and bag of chips to spread the word about the need for foster parents and the great work TFI is doing across the state. Each donation from Hostess and Frito-Lay helped TFI spread joy as well as knowledge about our children and families in care. We greatly appreciate the kindness of Hostess and Frito-Lay and their support for our mission to strengthen families.
In addition, we would also like to thank Butterball, a meat packing distribution center located in Carthage, MO. They are one of the most well-known turkey brands throughout the United States and have been around for over 60 years. They are well known for their “Never frozen, Gluten free, raised without hormones on American farms” turkeys. Foster Care Recruiter, Shelby Grissom, reached out to Butterball in October in hopes of getting turkey donations towards our Christmas parties for our foster families. Debra, with Butterball, was quick to respond and happy to help! She made a few phones and was able to get an additional 20 turkeys added to the shipment that had already been placed. Debra was very helpful. She stated that if we are ever interested in having Butterball donate towards TFI’s Christmas events to let her know and they would be happy to help!
Our Fostering Holiday Joy Golf Ball Drop raised $5,000 for Christmas Gifts for TFI foster children! We also had our online Giving Tree up as well as Angel Tree Tags on Christmas Tree’s in the lobbies of local businesses across all of our states we serve. Thank you to all of our staff who went above and beyond to help pull Christmas together for the kids and families! Thank you to all the families and friends who bought the gifts for the kids. It’s really a team effort every year! We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the time with your family & friends.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any contacts, questions, or fun stories of generosity.
Thanks for all you do!
Oklahoma/Texas: Steven Mandeville | 918-728-3378 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kansas/Nebraska: Sheila Kearney | 785-213-6161 | email@example.com
Events & Volunteer Coordinator: Libby Hayden | 785-294-6606 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for opening your hearts and homes to children in need.
Ray & Karen Berry
Matthew & Erin Crank
Richard & Kerry Tice
Seth & Amanda Lickteig
Richard & Amy Sparks
Zachary & Courtney Young
Cynthia & Jordan Manhannah
Jason & Andrea Anderson
Jason & Leah Graves
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