Monday, December 9, 2013

Fostering Change for Children Raises $11,000+ At Its Annual Holiday For Change Fundraiser.

Fostering Change for Children Co-Founder
April Dinwoodie Speaks at "Holiday for Change"
Last Wednesday, December 4, Fostering Change for Children held its 3rd Annual Holiday Fundraiser, "Holiday For Change," raising $11,000 for child welfare awareness and initiatives, and once again surpassing their target fundraising goal for the holiday fundraising event. Fostering Change for Children is a non-profit that works to improve the lives of children and families through programs such as Adoptment, a mentoring program that pairs adults who were formerly adopted or in the foster care system with children currently in foster care, and Children's Corps, a "Teach for America" style two-year work corps for social workers and caseworkers interested in child welfare and youth work.

Although this was Fostering Change for Children's 3rd Holiday Social, the organization celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its Adoptment program, originally realized by Fostering Change Co-Founder and Vice President of the Board, April Dinwoodie. This year's event honored long-time Board Member and Adoptment Mentor, Robert Chirlian, who was surrounded by at least three of his former mentees as he expressed both his gratitude for and dedication to this pioneering charity. Mr. Chirlian spoke of the holiday season and how, because of Fostering Change for Children, "instead of having nowhere to go this Thanksgiving," many of the children on whose behalf the organization works were able to share their holiday with family.

Fostering Change for Children also works to combat the high turnover rate for children's welfare workers in New York City. While the local child welfare system tends to yield a 60% retention rate, Children's Corps retains 87% of its child welfare workers annually. I had the opportunity to speak with several Children's Corps members, many of whom who raved about their experiences working "hands on" with children on a daily basis, most often in association with Family Court permanency proceedings. One thing was abundantly clear -- Children's Corps members have a passion for protecting and advocating for children's rights and wellbeing. Alana Mihovics, a student of both social work and law, noted that she had "looked at [the system] from both sides" and "found it interesting to consider ... ways to improve the system" via a more "holistic approach" as a Children's Corps member. The other common response from Corps members was a deep appreciation for the support system that the program offered them, often as young professionals just starting out in their careers. Miriam Kwietniewska, another Corps member, exclaimed that she "love[d] [her] job," could not have done it without the support of the Corps/Fostering Change for Children, and that she was "intrigued" by the genuineness of the field into which she was essentially thrust, and the "courageous people" she encountered within. Ms. Kwietniewska enjoyed working to keep children "safe and comfortable," with a goal of providing them with "some kind of loving environment." Typically, Corps members are recruited from various disciplines including social work, law, and psychology.

With over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States at any given time, Fostering Change for Children acts as a beacon of light for children in a confusing and murky system.  According to the organization's website, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Barry Chaffkin, LCSW "believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent family, and [he] has dedicated his life to finding new and creative ways to achieve this." Together, and with the support of their staff and board, Chaffkin and Dinwoodie have established an organization that takes hold of neverending opportunities to impact the lives of children and families.

This holiday season, consider donating to this worthy cause, or if you're looking for deeper involvement, become a Children's Corps member or an Adoptment mentor. And don't forget about their diverse training programs in the field of child welfare. There are so many ways to help.

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