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