When you foster through The Villages you never walk alone

When you foster through The Villages you never walk alone

Jennifer Hatfield has been with The Villages for 27 years. During her nearly three decades working as a therapeutic foster care case manager serving families in Kokomo and Lafayette, she says The Villages has consistently provided 24/7 support for foster families.

Early on, Jennifer remembers each case manager was accessible to each family they supported, day and night. As technology evolved, a streamlined system evolved. She says, “We continue to provide on call after hour care and consulting for the families we’re supporting because we are an extended support system that wraps services around the family.”

During regular business hours, Monday to Friday, foster families have direct access to their assigned Villages case manager. After hours, case managers in each region, along with supervisors, have a rotating schedule to support families who are given a dedicated phone number to call.

Jennifer says, “Some families work during the day and evening is the only time they have to call.” She says foster parents are often looking for ideas and support. Parents describe behaviors they’re seeing and want to know the best way to handle them. More important, Jennifer says most of the time foster parents need someone who will hear them, “You have to be there, be present and listen to what families are saying.”

Jennifer says while 24/7 support is provided across the state by Villages team members, it’s the next level of support for families that’s unique.  For example, when foster parents need respite and time for their own self-care, The Villages’ team will help find childcare, and if needed, find a way to pay for it. “That’s not a reflection on me, it’s reflection on the agency and those in the community that support its mission.” says Jennifer.

In fact, Jennifer says she cannot recall a time a family expressed a need that The Villages could not fulfill. “I don’t know a lot of agencies that go above and beyond like this.”

Jennifer shared a unique situation, when a foster mom with special needs children lost power to her home during a snowstorm, The Villages team found a way to literally keep the lights on. The mom had a foster child and adoptive child who required ventilators for tracheostomy tubes.

Jennifer explains the mom had back up batteries for the ventilator system that needed to be charged every six hours. Between fire department personnel, Villages staff and the mom’s support system, the ventilator remained charged. Then The Villages went a step further.

Once the power came back on, The Villages team found a way to add a generator to the home. Because of generous community members who provide continual financial support, The Villages was able to fund about three-fourths of the cost, while the foster mom covered the remainder. Jennifer says, “Our foster families are very appreciative of everything The Villages community provides. I wish they could see each of the families and children who’ve been positively affected and benefitted from their generosity. It’s been a blessing for me to watch.”

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