Upcoming Events July-October 2021

Summer Fun Movie Night – Friday, July 9 – 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
This is a private event for the families we serve. An Ice Cream Cart was donated and will be manned by Mutual of America representatives, Popcorn is donated by Better Made, and All City Dogs food truck will be providing hot dogs, chips, and drink; other food selections will be available to purchase. A movie will be shown at this event. [Needed: Movie Box Candy (300), Raffle Items (i.e. slip & slides, summer outside fun stuff) & Volunteers]

Resource Fair – Saturday, August 21 – 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The resource fair will be a recruitment event. Vendor tables are available for organizations to participate.   It will be held at The Corner Ballpark (site of Old Tiger Stadium) 1680 Michigan Ave, Detroit,   . [Needed: Volunteers]

Trunk-or-Treat – Friday, October 22 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The event will be held in the rear parking lot of the Crossroads Building. Up to 10 Halloween decorated vehicles will be arranged in a pattern with their trunks open providing treats for the families. A movie may be shown at this event. This event provides the families an opportunity to trick-or-treat in a safe and controlled atmosphere. [Needed: Volunteers, Decorated Cars, Items to go into goodie bags]

Upcoming Events July-October 2021

Ivana Maplanka

Meet Oakland County DHHS Director and MALDI Grad

In addition to serving children and families, the team at Spaulding is proud of our work to develop the professional capabilities and leadership skills of talented men and women.

This work includes initiatives to strengthen the representation of minority professionals working in the child welfare system across the country.

Ivana Maplanka credits one pioneering program, the Minority Adoption Leadership Development Institute (MALDI), a program led by Spaulding and funded by the Children’s Bureau, with helping her discover and develop her professional interests and competence. Today, she advances the interests of children and families as the Acting Director of the Department of Health and Human Services in Oakland County, Michigan.

Years ago, Ms. Maplanka was recommended for the MALDI program by a District Manager in her office at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Then a Supervisor with Child Protective Services, Ms. Maplanka was not sure the program with its focus on foster care and adoption was the right fit. As an investigator, she had gained extensive experience with foster parents and childcare institutions and, later, with adoptive families.

Ms. Maplanka attended the first MALDI meeting in Detroit and was excited by all the talent in the cohort. She knew that she had much to learn about the work and wondered what she might contribute. In answer, the team at MALDI showed her how she could make a difference. A distinctive and invaluable aspect of the program is the mentor each member receives.

While Ivana and her MALDI mentor then worked in the same department, Ivana had not previously worked closely with her at MDHHS. Through this experience, Ms. Maplanka not only gained great insight in the area of adoption, but established a great mentoring relationship that continues to this day. In addition to providing information and guidance, MALDI mentors were important for helping participants determine the focus of the yearlong program. The program’s other resources included consultants and advisors who each generously shared their knowledge and suggestions.

“I will always remember the support I received in the MALDI program,” Ms. Maplanka said. “With guidance from my mentor, and the support from MALDI, I was able to determine my focus for my project. As a worker in the child welfare system, I had not realized before the program how many decisions were made without the full realization of the impact on all programs. So, I took on the exploration of adoption through the Child Protective Services’ lens. I learned to ask what could have been done differently when a family came in contact with CPS.”

Ms. Maplanka incorporated the concept of the continuity of care into her MALDI project and ultimately into her professional career. With her research, she now sees the child welfare system through a different lens.

“Every professional in the system needs to understand their role and how it affects all other programs,” Ms. Maplanka said.

Following the program, Ivana’s career path continued to expand with new opportunities from Supervisor to Section Manager, District Manager and now Acting Director.

“I believe that because of the MALDI program and what I learned and the connections I made, I have greater insight into the field I work in,” Ms. Maplanka said. “The experience I gained through the MALDI program has put me on a different level in understanding the Child Welfare System.”

When asked what she would say to professionals considering the program, Ms. Maplanka replied: “It’s a lot of work, but it’s all purposeful. It helps us to always look for ways we can find meaning and improve how we can make a true difference in child welfare.”

The MALDI program has evolved into the current Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) program. Learn more, including opportunities to join the coming cohort, below.

Minorities in Child Welfare Wanted for Leadership Development

Currently, the Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) program is led by Spaulding and administered by the Adoption Exchange Association (AEA) as one of the components of the multifaceted AdoptUSKids project funded by the Children’s Bureau. As with MALDI, the MPLD program was established to develop the professional leadership skills of men and women working to make positive change through service in the child welfare system. Both programs have made major impacts in the child welfare system through the work and contributions of their professional alumni.

You and other professionals in the child welfare fields can develop new leadership skills, expand your professional network and gain transformative insights that MALDI and MPLD graduates have experienced when you sign up for the next cohort.

Please enroll by June 7. To do so, please click here.

Webinar: Understanding Social Media Tools and Traps: Empowering Families to Navigate the Virtual World


Read more

Melinda Lis honored with 2020 National Adoption Excellence Award

Melinda Lis, Vice President of The Academy for Family Support and Preservation at Spaulding, Honored with 2020 National Adoption Excellence Award from The Children’s Bureau

Click here for Official Press Release

Melinda Lis with award

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 19, 2020 – The Children’s Bureau at HHS Administration for Children and Families has awarded its 2020 National Adoption Excellence Award to Melinda Lis, Spaulding for Children Vice President of The Academy for Family Support and Preservation. Ms. Lis received the honor Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the 2020 National Adoption Month Celebration.

The 2020 Adoption Excellence Award was made in recognition of Ms. Lis’ professional work to increase the number of children from foster care who are adopted or placed in other permanent homes.

Part of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children & Families (ACF), the Children’s Bureau (CB) works with federal, state, tribal and local agencies to improve the overall health and well-being of our nation’s children and families.

“Melinda Lis has motivated and inspired the child welfare community and people around her to accomplish more than they would have normally,” Cristina Peixoto, President/CEO of Spaulding for Children, said. “With the right mix of positivity, the amazing ability to tap into other’s strengths and thinking outside of the box, Melinda has successfully contributed to inform and transform the views and understanding about the role played by child welfare systems and communities in supporting post permanency family.”

The adoption excellence awards given each year by the Children’s Bureau to recognize individuals and families who, and organizations that, have demonstrated excellence in making contributions to providing permanency for children in foster care. Professional peers nominate individuals and organizations. Families also can make nominations.

“This is a great honor for me, but also is a great honor for our staff,” Ms. Lis said. “We have dedicated our lives to working in child welfare. Today there are approximately 122,000 children awaiting adoption – about 3,000 of whom are in Michigan. So, we have more work to do and many more people to help.”

Melinda Lis started her career with Spaulding in July 2013 as the Vice President of the Spaulding Academy for Family Support and Preservation, where she continues to play leadership roles on three federal projects through the Children’s Bureau.

Normally held before an in-person audience in Washington, D.C., this year’s National Adoption Month Celebration was webcast live on Tuesday, Nov. 17. This year’s National Adoption Month theme, “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn,” highlights the importance of listening to young people and learning from them ways to support their path to permanency.

The ceremony featured HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II, Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for ACF, Elizabeth Darling, Commissioner, ACF/Children’s Bureau, Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau at ACF and June Dorn, National Adoption Specialist, ACF/Children’s Bureau.

The awardees include families who have adopted children from foster care; child welfare professionals working to improve permanency outcomes for children; and individuals and organizations who use their resources and connections to strengthen outcomes for children and youth adopted from foster care.

Members of the Spaulding for Children team have been recognized by The Children’s Bureau at Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families a number of times. Recipients include:

  • Addie Williams, then President/CEO of Spaulding, was recognized in 2016 for professional leadership and pioneering work with special needs adoption.
  • Natalie Lyons and the National Resource Center for Adoption were recognized in 2012 for professional leadership and honored with the Centennial Adoption Excellence Awards.
  • Paul VanderVelde, who served as a member of Spaulding’s National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption, was honored in 2006 for devoting his professional life to improving the lives of vulnerable children and families, in particular abuse and neglected children in the foster care system.
  • Drenda Lakin, then Vice President at Spaulding for Children, was honored in 2004 for her leadership in special needs adoption and contributions to the profession of child welfare.

About Spaulding for Children

Spaulding for Children is a national leader in developing and providing resources and training for foster and adoptive families and those who serve and support them. Started in 1968 with the belief that every child is adoptable, Spaulding brought attention to foster children with special needs. Today Spaulding provides research-based training and education for those interested in becoming adoptive and foster parents in addition to service contracts and partnership projects funded through the Michigan DHHS and the Children’s Bureau and parenting and preventive support program for young women who are pregnant or young mothers between the ages of 13-24 children with risk factors for child abuse and neglect. Spaulding for Children prevention program includes assistance, coaching and mentoring for the most vulnerable parents and have achieved a significant success rate in keeping families intact.

“Transracial Adoption and the Black Lives Matter Movement” – Webinar

On August 26, 2020 Spaulding for Children presented a webinar:

Transracial Adoption and the Black Lives Matter Movement Webinar

Watch the video as our facilitated panel of three Black transracial adoptees shared their experiences and real-talk about how the increased momentum surrounding Black Lives Matters impacts Black and Brown adoptees raised in White families in America.

The panel highlighted information that professionals working in the child welfare field as well as adoptive parents need to understand related to the intersectionality of adoption and race and its life-long impact.

Meet Our Panelist

Ways to Keep Kids Engaged this Summer

Michigan Science Center brings wonders of the universe and live experiments directly into your living room. Log on to MiSci’s ECHO Distance Learning Studio, Mondays through Fridays at 2:30 p.m.

While public libraries have been approved to re-open in Michigan. several public libraries are open online. And many have made their extensive collections of ebooks and movies available for download. Some also have special online programming and book groups for kids — and grown-ups, too.

Southfield Public Library website is open with e-books, audio books, movies, music, children’s resources and many research sources at www.southfieldlibrary.org. SPL plans to reopen in phases. One of the first phases will be with phone service and material pickup at the drive-through window. They will post information when this service is ready on their website and social media pages.

Please check the websites and continue to utilize online resources of our state’s outstanding libraries. Among them are the Detroit Public Library and the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

Get outdoors. Huron-Clinton Metro Parks are open throughout Southeast Michigan, as are Michigan State Parks, including Belle Isle. Hike, bike, explore and more.

Yoga with Maya. Mondays through Sundays at 5 p.m. Click here for directions for 30-minute, password-protected Zoom sessions.

Animal Lessons from Detroit Zoo.  Discover amazing animals and learn online.

Coloring Through the City. A fun way to explore Detroit is the downloadable Detroit Parks Coloring Book brought to you by Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The book is made possible by the teams at Eastern Market, the Belle Isle Conservancy, Downtown Detroit Partnership, and the City of Detroit.

Katherine Ward: An Amazing Smile May Be Why Storyteller Seems So Familiar

You may have seen Katherine “Katie” Ward on Spaulding’s Facebook page. Every Monday evening, she reads books out loud as the star of “Storytime with Miss Katie.”

The time is special for children and adults who enjoy hearing a good story. Click here to catch the program Mondays at 7 p.m.

Katie Ward soon will celebrate nearly 10 years as a professional serving in foster care and adoption. She has served more than three years with Spaulding for Children.

While in college Katie was headed to a criminal justice degree when she took a class in juvenile justice that changed the course of her life.

“I could not believe what these kids had gone through,” Katie said. “And I knew I needed to help.”

Katie cites her own great childhood for her love of kids. She adds it may be difficult for people to understand that many children today do not receive the unconditional support that they did growing up.

Katie is one of 7 children. And, today, she is raising two children. She also has a large extended family.

“I know that everyone just wants to be seen, heard and supported,” Katie said.

At Spaulding Katie works as an adoption specialist. It is her job to find adoptive families for youth in foster care whose parental rights have been terminated.

To locate a family, Katie works her network of agencies and contacts foster families and other relatives of the child. She works with MARE, the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, where she develops an online profile of the child and then attends recruitment events.

Currently, Katie is most excited to report that she has identified a family for a youth who has been in foster care longer than anyone in the state. The young person is approaching his 17th birthday and has several developmental challenges.

While in the residential placement he received several support therapies from occupational to counseling which have been invaluable. Not all residential centers have such extensive services.

“When a couple adopts an older child, they miss the teething and learning to ride a bike phase, but they get to be instrumental in helping someone become an adult,” Katie said. “These parents can teach things like learning to drive, applying for a job, how to present themselves in an interview, order and tip in a restaurant, laundry, cooking – all the skills he/she will need to be independent. And, of course, how to find and cultivate their passion.”

While Katie is awaiting finalization of this adoption, she states that the hardest part of her work is telling a child that a family they have been visiting with does not in fact want to move forward with the auditorium.

Adoption workers like Katie spend months with a prospective family before introducing the child. She teaches them that children in foster care, despite the challenges they have faced that led them to be in care, have had training that will be beneficial to them – and their next family.

Families are taught coping and mindfulness skills. Finally, families looking into adoption receive additional support from Spaulding, both before and after the adoption. There are also support groups for adoptive families to help them on their journey.

“I would love to think about a day when my services would not be needed,” Katie said. “But until that day, I’ll be here.”

Enjoy being with Katie online at Storytime with Miss Katie each Monday at 7 p.m., live on Spaulding’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/spauldingforchildren

Family Preservation Principles

The National Family Preservation Network has outlined principles of Intensive Family Preservation Services. These services are designed to support families in which children are either at imminent risk of placement or have been placed outside their homes.

Principles in Working with Families

  • The family is the best resource for the nurture, care, and well-being of children.
  • The most durable way to help children is to help their parents.
  • Keeping families safely together, whenever possible, must be the highest priority of government laws, policies, and funding.
  • Because the integrity of the family is critical to its functioning, services to families must primarily focus on keeping families together or reunifying families when out-of-home placement is necessary.
  • Families must be assessed for strengths as well as weaknesses.  Strengths can be used to help address weaknesses.
  • Families must be involved in decisions about every aspect of an intervention: safety, assessment, goals, services, progress, placement (if necessary), and outcomes.
  • Families must be empowered through services, not kept dependent on them. Services should be provided only until the family is stabilized and has the necessary skills to remain safely together. Families can then choose whether or not they want additional services.
  • We owe families the best possible services at the lowest cost to whoever is paying for the services.  All services must be evaluated for their effectiveness and cost-benefit.

Click here for more information from the National Family Preservation Network.