NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

“Never talk to strangers.” This important lesson in personal safety often involves a period of confusion and anxiety as young children try to understand who is a stranger and why it’s okay to talk to some strangers and not others. From the point of view of a child who has just been admonished not to talk to strangers, parents…

SEX FOR SALE

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

People talk about the sex trade and sex trafficking. The problem is that it’s not sex that’s being sold—it’s people. Poor people. Young people. Poor young people. It should not surprise us that the most vulnerable among us are the most likely to fall prey to sex traffickers. Some of these are people who are so impoverished that they…

WHY WON’T SHE TELL ME WHAT SHE WANTS?

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

This question came from a friend who had opened her home to a young woman I’ll call Anna, who was attending a summer program in her community. My friend wanted her guest to be comfortable; she wanted to make sure that some of Anna’s favorite foods were on hand, that she had the information she needed to navigate the…

CASEWORKERS MATTER

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

For children who have to leave parents behind and enter foster care the caseworker is one person who can bring stability to their lives. As Alexus Colbert writes about her time in foster care, caseworkers who are can and do make an important difference for children whose lives are filled and uncertainty and loss. Alexus…

HOLIDAY SADNESS

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

We know that holidays are not always merry and bright. Certainly, we are acutely aware of that this year, with the tragedy of Sandy Hook still fresh in our minds as thoughts of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy had barely been absorbed. For many, the holidays will provide a distraction from the enormity of…

WHAT IS THE SOUND OF UNMET NEED?

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

All too frequently, the Referral Coordinator at A Home Within receives calls like this one from Sam*. He has aged out of our foster care system and is now homeless and struggling with drug and alcohol use. Sam:  You told me to call you if anything changed in my situation. I’m having a really hard time right now. I…

THERE IS NO POVERTY SO GREAT AS A CHILD WITHOUT A FAMILY*

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

The hunger of parentless children is palpable, as a visitor to a Haitian orphanage captured so eloquently in her blog. Unfortunately, we do not have to travel to watch children who live without families beg to be held—both physically and emotionally. Children in our foster care system, who have been separated from parents who are…

HUBRIS

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

It’s been several days since a colleague alerted me to a lawsuit that has been filed in South Carolina by the parents of a child who was adopted from the foster care system. I have been unable to understand how the foster care system could have failed a child so utterly and completely. According to this report a child who…

THE COMPLICATIONS OF HALLOWEEN

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

Suppose that you are a foster parent with four children in your care. One of the children is excited about going trick-or-treating. One child knows nothing about the holiday. One comes from a family that does not celebrate the holiday for religious reasons. The fourth is a new arrival who is easily frightened and who…

HE WON’T SIT STILL

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

This is the complaint of a foster mother who last month had three-year-old Jesse delivered into her care. Not only will he not sit still, he fidgets while she is trying to read him a story and gets up from the dinner table without asking. He frequently bumps into things when he wanders around the house because he doesn’t…