Foster Care Blog

Rudolph Round-Up Holiday Toy Drive

Rudolph Round-Up Holiday Toy Drive

We invite you to join Heartland for Children in our 17th Annual Rudolph Round-Up Holiday Toy Drive. With your help, our goal is to help make incredible holiday memories for over 1,500 local children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect.
 

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LoBo Ranch Recharge

LoBo Ranch Recharge

This weekend, LoBo Ranch, one of our community partners, rounded-up volunteers to serve 23 kiddos and their 12 caregivers through their Ranch Recharge Program.

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4 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

4 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

So you've been considering fostering? Here are 4 Steps to Become a Foster Parent!

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Barbara & Barney Prestridge

Barbara & Barney Prestridge

The Prestridge Family has started their foster care journey about 8 years ago and they have fostered about 100 children! Read their story here.

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Foster Families Ranch Recharge

Foster Families Ranch Recharge

There is no doubt that we live in a community that cares! This past Saturday, our community partner, LoBo Ranch, hosted a Ranch Recharge for foster families!
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Rachel & Sean Lyttle

Rachel & Sean Lyttle

Rachel and Sean have been major supporters of uniting sibling groups and co-parenting with the biological families of their kids. Read more about their story.

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Sharon & Eric Haller

Sharon & Eric Haller

Meet the Haller Family! One of our foster families who are always willing to take in sibling groups and teens – our greatest need! Read more about their story.

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Violet & Ronald Sims

Violet & Ronald Sims

Meet the Sims Family! For over 13 years, Violet and Ronald have opened their heart and home to youth in their community and have even adopted 6 of their children. The Sims do an excellent job being a support to the children in their care and their families. Their partnership with the children's parents and families have led to successful reunifications and they still stay in touch and visit to this day.
 

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1K for 1Kid - Foster Care Awareness

1K for 1Kid - Foster Care Awareness

Help us raise awareness for foster care all month! We’re partnering with All Pro Dad, iMOM and families across our community through the 1K for 1Kid campaign! Whether it’s biking, running, swimming, or walking, you can help us in our mission to find homes for children by participating in a 1K activity of your choice between May 21-31.
 

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Ashley & Kelly Grogan

Ashley & Kelly Grogan

Ashley & Kelly began their foster care journey back in 2017. Ashley shares, “We had 3 young biological children at home when we started our foster care journey. Kel and I had lots of conversations about how fostering would affect our family - we worried about how it might change our children. Be assured, foster care will change you. You cannot experience the things of foster care and stay the same. We have all become more compassionate and empathetic individuals.”

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Foster Family of the Month: Hargrove

Foster Family of the Month: Hargrove

Meet the Hargroves, our Foster Family of the Month!

In 2018, Maria & Daniel began their foster care journey and decided that they only wanted to foster teens (our greatest need)! Since the beginning, they have been very involved in co-parenting, facilitating visits with bioparents and making sure the teens are able to stay connected with family. They champion and advocate for every teen that comes through their home, including the 15 and 16 year olds that are currently with them.

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Easter Baskets for Kids in Foster Care

Easter Baskets for Kids in Foster Care

Kimberly Hernandez decided that she wanted to do something for children in our community who are less fortunate and contacted Heartland for Children about donating Easter baskets. She shared that she was originally going to put together 40 baskets but when she heard that there were over 1,500 kids in foster care she decided to do more and was able to connect with her friends and put together 110 Easter baskets for our kids in foster care.

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Foster Care Success Story: Amanda Cruce

Foster Care Success Story: Amanda Cruce

As a foster/adoptive parent, Amanda Cruce has welcomed more than 50 children from Florida’s foster care system into her home. Most have been teenagers. She learned early on that loving foster children as your own kids and then seeing them return to their biological family is a complicated experience, but that’s the goal of fostering. 

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Foster Family Appreciation Week

Foster Family Appreciation Week

It's Foster Family Appreciation Week! We have an amazing network of 250 foster families in Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties and we are excited to highlight how they make a difference in the lives of our children & families every day!
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Dustin & Beth Ann Prickett

Dustin & Beth Ann Prickett

It's Foster Family Appreciation Week! This week we are highlighting just a few of our 250 amazing foster families. Meet Dustin and Beth Ann Prickett. 

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Subscribe to Parent's Corner

Subscribe to Parent's Corner

Hey Parents & Caregivers!

We are excited to announce that we have launched our monthly Parent's Corner Newsletter. Once a month, subscribers will receive an email packed with helpful resources, safety info and parenting tips to strengthen you and your family.

SUBSCRIBE HERE and check out January's Parent's Corner.

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ECHO Ministries: Meeting the Need

ECHO Ministries: Meeting the Need

What started as 3 families that were interested in becoming foster caregivers from Lakeland's Harvest Church has now developed into a ministry that meets the immediate needs of children being removed from their homes for abuse and neglect on a weekly basis. We love to see our community partners, like ECHO (Everyday Christians Helping Orphans) Ministries Florida, being highlighted for the amazing service they provide to our children and families! Thank you, ECHO for being a part of our community that cares! 

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HFC's 2020 Year in Review

HFC's 2020 Year in Review

Despite all of this year's challenges we saw our community rise up to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children and families. Let's take a trip down memory lane and remember all of the amazing things that happened this year!

Happy New Year to you and your family!

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Rudolph Stories: Meet the Stantons

Rudolph Stories: Meet the Stantons

Meet the Stanton Family! Check out their story on how our community has made a difference in their family through the Rudolph Round-Up Toy Drive!

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Case Manager Corner: 11/12/2020

Case Manager Corner: 11/12/2020

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work

IN THIS EDITION:

- Jill Gellibert at CHS
- Amanda Followell, Niki Putsolka, Lisette Colon, Angela Findley at OHU
- Sherry Bickel, Lakesha Brathwaite, Emily Kue, Michelle O'Connor at Devereux

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Rudolph Round-Up Toy Drive 2020

Rudolph Round-Up Toy Drive 2020

Rudolph Champions are needed to help make holiday memories for over 1,500 local children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect.

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Case Manager Corner: 1/28/2020

Case Manager Corner: 1/28/2020

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.

IN THIS EDITION:

- Roger Vazquez, Monaya Crossen & Trina Stevenson at OHU
- Shane Bishop at CHS
- Minoo Khordehpaz, Michelle O'Conoor, Alfreda White, Maria Cartegena, Julie Bartle, Mariel Sepulveda, Roshonda Lofton, Mykira Johnson, Kathryn Marini, Lisa Pyles, Amensha Willix, Katelyn Davis, Karla Diaz, Shedlie Desraines, Candice Hailey, Rachelle Louis, Adrianna Williams-Rice, Tangela Coleman, Rodina Lynch, & Valderria Mitchell at Devereux

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Case Manager's Corner: 8/16/19

Case Manager's Corner: 8/16/19

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.
 

IN THIS EDITION:
- Leticia Gilchrist, Krystal Garza, Becka Kampman,Tammy Cleveland, Shantel Lyons, Becky Distler, and Drake Sherwood  at OHU
- Danielle Williams, Laura Civetta, Renee Cummings and Sherry Bickel at Devereux
- Fabiola Thelemaque, Michael Harris, at CHS

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#ReunificationMonth - A Success Story

#ReunificationMonth - A Success Story

Heartland for Children celebrates #ReunificationMonth every June & Daniel is one of our parents who is a true success story. Now, he comes in & talks to prospective Foster Caregivers & new case managers in training. He tells his story to inspire & encourage not only bio parents eager to reunify with their kids, but also to Caregivers, urging them to not be afraid to work in unison with the bio parents & co-parent.  VIDEO - https://vimeo.com/343733189

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CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 6/24/19

CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 6/24/19

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.
 

IN THIS EDITION:
- Lora King, Danielle Meinke at OHU
- Alfreda White, Katelyn Davis, Rachelle Louis, Shedlie Desravines at Devereux
- Christina Ware at CHS


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CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 4/23/19

CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 4/23/19

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.
 

IN THIS EDITION:
- Austin Morgan, Nena Cizewski-Baird, Pam Brack, Gail Werley, Dorcas Statham-Walker, Kimberly Helmick, Brittany Pinkney, Tammy Cleveland, Pamela Brack, and Natasha Hardin at OHU
- Tyrica Morris, Stephanie Balmaceda, Shedlie Desravines, and Walner Pierrissaint at Devereux
- Anna Easley at CHS


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Loop the Lake 5K & Fun Walk

Loop the Lake 5K & Fun Walk

Join us for Kappa Delta's Annual "Loop the Lake" 5K to raise money for Heartland for Children and to help end child abuse!
Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/loop-the-lake-2019-tickets-52287312760?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

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CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 12/24/18

CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 12/24/18

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.
 

IN THIS EDITION:
- Nicole Luebke at CHS
- Stephanie Balmaceda at Devereux
- Mamie Lumpkin at NTF


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CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 10/18/18

CASE MANAGER'S CORNER: 10/18/18

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.
 

IN THIS EDITION:
-India Spence at Devereux
- Austin Morgan, Austin Morgan, Chenoa Baldwin, & Ed Ramey at One Hope United
-Todd Raines at Children's Home Society
- NTF Family Advocate, Shanique Outley


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A Community that Cares

A Community that Cares

Heartland for Children believes that all parents want to be good parents.

It is this foundational belief that fuels our work in establishing a Positive Culture Framework within the Communities that we serve. Part of this framework is a Prevention Portfolio highlighting the great child abuse prevention work already being done in our community, as well as some opportunities for new approaches and methods that can positively impact parenting practices and keep children safe. One such opportunity is a Positive Community Norms campaign.

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National Adoption Month & State Adoption Benefits

National Adoption Month & State Adoption Benefits

  Benefits of Adopting Florida's Children

Adoption provides unique opportunities to change children's lives and enrich the life of the adoptive parent or family that welcomes them in. Adopting one of Florida's children from foster care offers many special benefits

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CASE MANAGER'S CORNER

CASE MANAGER'S CORNER

by: Bill Nunnally
Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.

IN THIS EDITION: 
-
Karina Escalera of Devereux
-Danielle Meinke of One Hope United 
-Ana Cruz of Neighbor to Family
-Cris Allphin of Gulf Coast 
-more...

CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE...

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Addressing the Urgent Need for Foster and Adoptive Homes

Addressing the Urgent Need for Foster and Adoptive Homes

 

The availability of quality foster and adoptive homes is an ever present challenge within child welfare. Historically, homes for teens and large sibling groups are even more difficult to recruit. There is an added challenge, currently, in that the number of new foster homes being licensed is outpaced by the numbers of children being removed from their homes. Removals are at a ten year high within Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Heartland for Children is committed to innovation in the approaches used to recruit and retain quality foster parents.

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Each Hour Counts: A Biological Son’s Perspective as a Foster & Adoptive Brother

Each Hour Counts: A Biological Son’s Perspective as a Foster & Adoptive Brother

This is why my family chose to become a foster, and eventually adoptive family in Polk County, Florida. As a foster and adoptive brother, I have been allowed the opportunity to help shelter ten different children within our home over the past eight years. During this time I have been able to develop patience and empathy for those who have experienced great trauma. Since I was an only child for the first six years of my life, these experiences led me to share my space, toys, time, and even my family. With every child that was taken in, I felt it was my responsibility to make sure they didn't leave without knowing that there was someone who cared. I have helped prepare numerous meals, organize clothes, provide safety and fun at the park, entertainment at home and in the car, reading of books, bedtime prayers, and much more. Although some of my foster brothers and sisters stayed for only a short time, I believe that each day counts.

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Little Birds

Little Birds

“Mom, are you coming?!” my youngest daughter wailed, “Come on! We’re ready to FREE it!” In order to understand what is taking place, let me rewind to about eight weeks ago.

It was a normal Sunday afternoon and the family was outside working in the yard like we do twice a month. As we were weeding the flower beds, our cat, Rasputin, appeared from around the corner, carrying something that was moving in his mouth.  My daughters, knowing that the little creature was facing an untimely death, started to scream at Rasputin.  Rasputin immediately dropped the creature from his mouth and ran the opposite direction. My youngest daughter had made it to the wiggling animal first and exclaimed “Oh Mama, it’s a baby bird!”  As I approached, I could tell that the bird appeared to be in very bad shape. “Mama, you have to help the little guy!” Looking first at the little shivering mess of feathers, then at the two pleading faces before me, I caught myself saying ”Go get a towel and a box. We’ll take it to the ER vet down the road.”

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Rudolph Round-Up 2015 Recap

Rudolph Round-Up 2015 Recap

Thanks to the generosity of all the donors who chose to be Rudolph Champions in 2015, contributing financially, purchasing items from children’s wish lists and/or sponsoring one of over 60 toy drives in our community, we were able to not only meet our goal, but exceed it! 

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Fostering Teens

Fostering Teens

“I could never foster a teenager”. I’ve heard it time and time again during my twenty two years working in child welfare. Why are people so afraid of teen agers?  We were ALL teenagers at one point…is that why you don’t think you can do it, because you’re afraid of a child like yourself?  (insert funny photo?) I have met some of THE most amazing teens during my career. These kids are earning athletic and academic scholarships to college, they excel in their high school sports and community clubs…but they couldn’t do this without a caring foster parent by their side to support them every step of the way.

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Relationships & Attachments Play a Role in Psychological Health & Well-Being

Relationships & Attachments Play a Role in Psychological Health & Well-Being

Forming relationships and attachments with others is inevitable even among the most shy and isolated individuals. So long as one lives and interacts with others, a form of attachment or relationship is established. There are different types of relationships that the average person can associate with: parent to child, foster parent to foster child, grandparent to grandchild, and sibling to sibling, spouse to spouse relationship along with extended family relationships. There are also the romantic, friendship, colleague, and the roommate relationships. The list can go on and on. A relationship, simply put, is being related to or interrelated with another individual on some level.Read More
Foster Parent Q & A: Cyndy Strickland

Foster Parent Q & A: Cyndy Strickland

Our journey first began long before September 2011; it began about 16 years ago with kinship care. We were contacted by the department and asked if we would consider taking in our nephews who were going to be removed from their home. My husband and I said yes. About two years later, there was a TPR hearing and the boys came up for adoption. Again, my husband and I said yes and adopted. After having previously being involved with the system through kinship care and adoption...and having two empty bedrooms (can’t have that!), we decided to take the leap and attend foster parent classes. We will soon celebrate our three-year anniversary as foster parents. 

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A First-Hand Account: Cebien Alty, Foster Parent

A First-Hand Account: Cebien Alty, Foster Parent

After nearly 10 years of being opposed to the idea of fostering, I finally decided to take the first step back in 2009 to learn more about the need and exactly what my commitment would be if I were to foster.Read More
How Foster Parents Strengthen the Community

How Foster Parents Strengthen the Community

HEARTLAND FOR CHILDREN - [Foster Care Blog] - Today, our foster parents are highly skilled volunteers that work in partnership with biological parents, case managers and other child welfare professionals to ensure that while the children are away from their parents, the parents still feel supported and connected to their children.  Read More
Unlocking Futures:  Meet Ms. Wasson

Unlocking Futures: Meet Ms. Wasson

Lori Wasson was licensed on October 18, 2011 for one child, but when she was asked if she could take two in order to keep sisters together, she quickly agreed. She was later told that they had two brothers who were also in care and she welcomed the idea of having all four siblings placed with her.

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A Foster Parent's Journey: Meet the Altys

A Foster Parent's Journey: Meet the Altys

When Cebien Alty’s wife, Joy-Lynn, brought up the subject of becoming foster parents, as her biological mother had been during her adolescent years, his quick reply was a resounding “NO!"  He wanted to focus on having children of their own and was quite honestly worried about the "type" of children in the foster care system.

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The Florida Baptist Children's Homes values the partnership with HFC as we serve children & families together. Heartland communicates well with our agency, keeps children and families central to its goals and works to empower our agency to improve services.