Erin was sixteen when her foster care referral came across my desk.
The year was 2004. I had been a case manager for a few short years and had very little experience working with girls. As I read about her, I could tell that she was headed down the wrong path and hanging with the wrong crowd. I knew foster care could help her, if she only wanted to accept the help.
She stood before me, uneasy, quiet and definitely apprehensive of me and her future in foster care. She was quiet but not timid, opinionated, but not disrespectful. I could immediately tell that she was bright, both street smart and book smart. And I could immediately tell that I was going to like working with her.
Erin was placed with foster mother, Delphi Barker. Delphi was an experienced foster mother who had worked with countless teenage girls in her time. She also had several biological children who were foster parents with Necco. Their support system was exactly what Erin needed. For the first time in her life, Erin had roommates, chores, homework, structure, and the love of family. She thrived on it. It became a pivotal point in Erin's life. She finally felt that she had all the tools she needed to be successful. Erin stated, "Going to Delphi's was life-changing. She accepted me as family. Being in her home put me on the right track."
After you guys came into my life, I was able to go to college. That was a completely different path than what I was looking at. None of my family had been to college.
Erin was enrolled into college at age 17 and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. She married Delphi's grandson, Mike, and the two have a daughter, Jasmine.
Erin was now focused on all that was right in her world. She and Mike were working, raising a daughter, and enjoying their family time. She had put her past behind her. That was, until she and Mike were watching a story on the news one evening. It was about how many children need a foster home.
"I was hesitant in the beginning. I was afraid that my history in foster care would disqualify me, or something. I worried about even applying. But I knew that there were kids out there who needed us, and we could love them."
I looked at Mike and said "Let's just do it!"
Thirteen years after a foster family helped Erin, she was certified to do the same for a child who needed her. It just so happened that Erin and Mike became certified on June 7th, the same day as their daughter's birthday. Jasmine so so thrilled that her parents were going to help other children. She exclaimed "This is the best birthday present ever!"
Erin says that she has had nothing but positive experiences in her time as a foster parent. "We get a whole lot of support from Necco. The first night, our Case Manager, Amber Parsons, called 3-4 times to check on us. They send us thank you cards in the mail, we are invited to trainings every month and we are going to the Halloween party tomorrow night."
We are in the right spot.
Now as a foster parent, Erin says that she sees all sides of a system that she was once placed in. She has shifted her way of thinking. She knows now that her foster care experience has only enriched the way she fosters her children. She is able to give back in the same way that her foster mother did for her.
It is so rewarding. At the end of the night, when we are all in our pajamas, and everyone has a full belly, it is the best. I know that everyone is safe and everyone is happy.
Erin, seeing you become a foster parent with Necco is the highest reward this retired Case Manager could ever receive. #WeBuildFamilies