Working together to ensure success for young people

Written by Carol Strychalski

I love the way SAFE programs work together to serve the young people in our care.

A few months ago, we had such an opportunity. A case manager from one of SAFE’s emergency shelters approached me. We needed to find a foster placement for Thomas*, a teen boy whose shelter stay had already been extended twice.

Connecting is key

Thomas’ significant trauma and behavioral history made it harder to find a family placement for him.

However, his shelter case manager maintained that he had made significant progress in the safe environment of the shelter. The healthy relationships he developed with staff aided this progress.

Because we could discuss his current needs in detail, I could appropriately match him with a foster family in the Foster & Adopt program.

We facilitated pre-placement visits to ensure the comfort of the foster family and Thomas moving forward.

Quite a first impression

Thomas’ foster family was prepared for a child whose behavior was shaped by past trauma. They understood he would need considerable care and support.

After meeting him for the first time, the child’s foster mother was amazed to find a young person ready to form healthy relationships.

The foster mother told us, “That is not the same child I read about in his documentation!”

A true testimony to the progress he made at the shelter.

A new environment

Moving from the comfort and familiarity of the shelter was bittersweet for Thomas. Even so, he began to adapt.

“Thank you for finding me a family!” — Thomas

The foster family quickly enrolled him in his new school and credit recovery program to help him catch up to his age’s grade level. And, after Thomas mentioned that he wanted to become a chef in the future, his family found a teen culinary program for him to participate in.

They also found a teen substance abuse program in the community to provide him peer support to maintain his sobriety in this less restrictive environment.

Thomas is thriving in this placement. He said that he truly feels peaceful in his home.

Looking ahead

It’s an absolute joy receiving picture texts from Thomas’ foster parents with this young man grinning while at the rodeo or a neighborhood picnic.

This special young man is focused on his goals, and with the help of his foster family, he hopes to graduate from high school, get his driver’s license, and go on to college.

The SAFE emergency shelter helped Thomas prepare to connect. Foster & Adopt helped him find a family to nurture his success.

Our teams work together to ensure people just like Thomas have what they need to succeed.


*name changed to protect client’s identity