Reuniting the Denver Family

After an accident in their home, Mr. and Mrs. Denver's infant daughter was removed and placed in foster care by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). DFCS referred the family to LSG's Family Intervention Services (FIS) program. LSG staff worked closely with the Denvers to develop a plan for the parents to complete so their daughter could return to a safe home.

Mr. and Mrs. Denver were eager to complete their case plan as soon as possible. LSG's Supervised Family Visitation allowed the Denvers to visit with their daughter three times a week in a comfortable setting. Twice a week, the Denvers took LSG's SafeCare Parenting classes, where they learned skills to better care for their daughter. Because of their determination, they moved through the program quickly. Overjoyed, the family welcomed their daughter back home in December 2014, just in time for Christmas.

Despite the difficult circumstances, the Denver family is grateful for LSG's Family Intervention Services. Mrs. Denver said, "The Supervised Visitation program was good for us. We got a lot of support. Everyone was really nice and understanding of how difficult the situation was for us. It was nice to not feel guilty or judged. The SafeCare Parenting Program was also good for us, especially since this was our first child. We are at a time where everything our baby does could be dangerous. I use the skills from the parenting classes every day. I'd recommend SafeCare for people even if they were not required to take it. We are appreciative of the services we received."

For more information about Family Intervention Services, click here or contact Jacqui Williams at

FIS Helps Young Mother Reunite with Her Daughters

 CH2441 By Deborah Battle, Training and Support Coordinator (Family Intervention Services)

A young mother of two very rambunctious twin daughters, Ms. Punjabi* struggled to provide her children with the care they needed. After her children were placed into LSG's Specialized Foster Care program, Ms. Punjabi was referred to LSG's Family Intervention Services program for support. At the time of the referral, her daughters were two years old.

Initially, Ms. Punjabi was overwhelmed during her supervised visitation sessions, as her daughters were very demanding of her attention. To strengthen her parenting skills, Ms. Punjabi attended two Nurturing Parenting Programs class sessions. Since she was on track to have her daughters return to her care, she was instead referred to the SafeCare program, a home visitation program that teaches parents about health, problem solving, communication, home safety, and more.

Throughout her time with FIS, Ms. Punjabi was cooperative, compliant, and actively participated in all activities. She completed any assignments given and eagerly presented them. She accepted corrective feedback and asked questions when she didn't understand something. During her supervised visitation sessions, she applied the lessons learned in SafeCare and accepted coaching from LSG staff. Due to her hard work. Ms. Punjabi successfully completed the SafeCare program in August 2014 and her daughters were returned to her shortly afterwards.

After successful demonstrating her knowledge and continued use of these skills at her three month follow-up, Ms. Punjabi reported that she was grateful for her experience with FIS. She stated that she has learned to take better care of her children and to protect them from harm. SafeCare and FIS helped her understand that she needed to learn more in order to be a better parent. Ms. Punjabi reports that she still uses the knowledge and skills she gained in the FIS program, especially when her daughters are ill. She is able to refer to  the SafeCare Health Manual and uses the Health Recording Chart tool on occasion.

Ms. Punjabi has had her children back in her custody for over six months. The girls are thriving and now attending pre-school. We wish Ms. Punjabi and her daughters continued success in the future.

*Name has been changed to protect client confidentiality.

LSG Awarded Grant for A+ Parents in Savannah!

mom daughterThe Georgia Governor's Office for Children and Families recently awarded Lutheran Services of Georgia a generous grant to prevent child abuse and neglect. Thanks to this grant, LSG will expand its parenting curriculum offered to parents participating in Savannah's A+ Parents program. A+ Parents is one program component of LSG's Family Intervention Services. According to the Administration of Children and Families Child Maltreatment 2012 report, 77 children died as a result of child abuse in Georgia and 1,640 children died due to child maltreatment nationwide. LSG's A+ Parents program aims to provide parent education, support, and parent training for families to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect.

LSG will implement the Triple P - Positive Parenting Program in the Savannah area. Currently used in 25 countries, Triple P gives parents simple and practical strategies to help them confidently manage their children's behavior, prevent problems developing, and build strong, healthy family relationships. LSG will adopt a Level 3 Triple P curriculum to provide moderate direct intervention for parents of children with mild to moderate behavioral difficulties. This curriculum will enhance the level of LSG's services provided to families with older children in need of addressing specific behavioral issues. This service will target parents with children ages 11 to 16.

Primary services will be offered in Bryan County, with secondary service areas in Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties. A substantial number of families in this area with children ages 6 through 16 are experiencing crisis due to poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing, teen pregnancy, disabilities, substance abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and more. Through the Triple P curriculum, LSG will serve 50 families, 80% of which are expected to be single mothers. The other 20% would be single fathers, two parent households, or relative/fictive kin caregivers.

LSG's Family Intervention Services, including the A+ Parents Program, strengthens families and reduces the risk of maltreatment of children. FIS also enhances the capacity of families and caregivers to provide for their children's needs. Click here to learn more about Family Intervention Services and the A+ Parents Program.


Nurturing A+ Parents

MD0446 Lutheran Services of Georgia’s A+ Parents program aims to build strong, healthy family relationships to prevent family issues from escalating to the point of requiring Child Protective Services intervention and/or out-of-home placements for children. LSG uses the evidence-based Nurturing Parenting Program curriculum which is designed to build nurturing parenting skills as an alternative to abusive and neglecting parenting and child-rearing practices.

In July 2014, one client reported to LSG Senior staff that A+ Parents classes completely changed her parenting style. The client stated that she struggled to show affection to her six young children because she was not raised in an affectionate household. After class one day, the parenting instructor gave her a homework assignment—to hug her children, to practice showing them affection, and to practice being a more nurturing parent. The instructor challenged her to practice at home until the next class. One week later, the parent returned to class, praising the instructor and saying that she had already noticed a difference with her children. She even joked that her own mother needed to attend the parenting class.

Before starting A+ Parents, the client was hesitant. She believed she didn’t need to take the class. However, she now sees the class as the light in her day. She leaves every class re-charged and in a better mood, feeling more positive about herself as a parent and more confident in her parenting skills.

For more information about the A+ Parents program and other Family Intervention Services LSG offers, click here.

Reuniting the Rogers Family: A FIS Success Story


By: David White, Case Manager, Family Intervention Services

After Mr. and Mrs Rogers' three children were removed from their home and placed into foster care, the Department of Family and Children Services referred them to Lutheran Services of Georgia's Family Intervention Services (FIS) program. FIS offers an array of services to children and families that build, maintain, and strengthen relationships. LSG staff created a case plan for the parents to follow to regain custody of their children, a plan which included supervised visitation with their children, parenting classes, and counseling sessions focused around both personal and relational issues. The family had multiple tasks to complete before the children could return home, but despite the emotional unrest, the Rogers put forth their best effort.

The Rogers showed perseverance in getting their children back home regardless of the many obstacles they faced. Although they had no personal means of transportation, they used public transportation and reached out to family members to get to all of their appointments. During the process, the family secured adequate housing so their children would have proper shelter upon return. Mrs. Rogers started school and stressed how much she desired to provide a better life for her children. Mr. Rogers secured stable employment and even worked closely with his case manager to develop a budget to ensure that the money he earned was being used effectively. Even when they thought their children would be returned to them only to discover that there were more tasks to complete, they didn’t complain and continued on with even more determination.

Throughout the case plan, the Rogers’ hearts were heavy and they missed their children dearly, but they remained steadfast. Many times, the children cried after visitations because they didn’t want to leave their parents, but the Rogers stayed strong for their children and ensured them they would return home soon. Even though they faced every obstacle imaginable—lack of finances, transportation, and medical problems—they made sure that every requirement on their case plan was met. They were truly focused on one goal—to regain custody of their children.

The Rogers remained cooperative and hopeful for a favorable outcome. They were serious about taking advantage of the services provided through FIS and were always engaged in parenting classes and counseling sessions. For the Rogers, the FIS case plan wasn’t merely items on a list that needed to be checked off; they sincerely wanted to move forward in life as better parents and eagerly absorbed all the information and knowledge given to them. They even got married during this process, demonstrating how serious they were about being a family and making changes for the better together. In my opinion, the Rogers family is a perfect example of commitment, determination, and genuinely seeking a positive life transformation. They did not let the negative situation and circumstances in their life break them down; instead, they humbled themselves and took this as an opportunity for growth in every area of their lives.

In June 2014, the Rogers regained custody of their children and were happily reunited. Although they still face minor challenges, they appear better equipped to positively handle them. Thanks to their commitment to improving their lives and apply the lessons learned in FIS parenting classes and counseling sessions, the Rogers are ready to move forward, together, as a family.

*Names and identifying information have been altered to protect the family. For more information about FIS, click here.


Alie Advocates for Child Welfare in D.C.!

Alie Redd at the Capitol On May 6-8, LSG’s Vice President of Programs Alie Redd, LCSW, participated in the Child Welfare League of America’s 2014 National Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. Below, Alie shares her experience advocating for the nation’s vulnerable children.

I was invited by Together Georgia to participate in the Child Welfare League of America’s 2014 National Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, on May 6 through 8. The summit addressed child welfare issues and helped organizations and individuals understand how to advocate on the Hill for child welfare reform. I, along with two colleagues fromCHRIS Kids, visited Congressmen John Lewis, Thomas Price, M.D., John Barrow, and Johnny Isakson’s offices and met with their staff to advocate for children in Georgia specifically about privatization of child welfare, mental health, and adoption. The summit taught attendees how to prepare specific talking points to address Congress and how to approach these influential people and decision makers with confidence.  This was particularly powerful because most people think Congressmen are unreachable or unapproachable. However, I found congressional staff to be welcoming and open to input and suggestions from their constituents.

At the summit, I learned how to advocate on a national level for vulnerable people who do not have a voice and for those who may no have the means to advocate for themselves or their loved ones. At first I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure what to say, but the summit taught me how to organize my thoughts. Then, all the voices of the children I have served throughout the years began to tell their stories through my voice. I was so proud to represent the vulnerable children of Georgia. Once I returned to Georgia, I shared with others how easy it is to make sure voices are heard in Congress. I also participated in a Lunch and Learn workshop to teach others at LSG how to ensure their voices are heard and how to advocate for those in need.

For more information about the Child Welfare League of America, click here.

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Relaunches Statewide 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia recently announced the return of 1-800-CHILDREN, its free referral line for Georgians concerned about the healthy development of children and the prevention of child abuse. The 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline is professionally staffed by operators from Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and will operate Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Unlike the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) statewide centralized intake number, the Helpline is not a number to call in crisis or when making a report of child abuse or neglect (Click here to learn how to report child abuse or neglect). Rather, operators will be available to provide information regarding parenting support, community resources, counseling services, referrals for legal needs, concern about the well-being of a child or family member, family violence, and other child maltreatment prevention issues.

PCA Georgia is a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. The organization provides statewide direction to prevent child abuse and neglect, promote healthy children, and develop strong families through its prevention network, public awareness, prevention programs, and advocacy.

Click here to find out more about 1-800-CHILDREN and PCA Georgia.

LSG and SafeCare to Help Adult Drug Court Clients

Lutheran Services of Georgia will provide SafeCare for adult drug court clients who are also parents to children ages 5 and under. SafeCare is an evidence-based home visitation program that has been shown to reduce child maltreatment among families with a history for maltreatment or with risk factors for maltreatment. Read the story below, reprinted with permission from the National Safecare Training and Research Institute. SafeCare is usually delivered to clients in child welfare settings with suspected or substantiated cased of maltreatment. But thanks to a 5-year grant from the Administration on Children and Families, SafeCare will be part of a package of treatments delivered to clients in Adult Drug Courts. Adult drug courts are judicially supervised treatment programs for people convicted of drug related crimes who are offered treatment instead of jail. Drug courts have an excellent track record of helping clients manage their addiction, but usually have few resources to address family issues.

Dr. Daniel Whitaker of Georgia State University and Dr. Wendy Guastaferro of John Jay College teamed with several agencies to receive a five year Regional Partnership Grant from ACF.  The grant will allow delivery of a new package of services focused on enhancing family functioning. The services provided by the grant include exposure based trauma counseling for drug court clients, child trauma using trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, and parenting services, using the SafeCare and Nurturing Parenting models.  DeKalb County Drug Court will provide exposure based trauma treatment to drug court clients using the COPE model.  Lutheran Services of Georgia will provide parenting services: SafeCare for parents with children five and under and the Nurturing model for parents of children 6 and older. The Georgia Center on Child Advocacy, will provide trauma-focused cognitive behavioral treatment to children of drug court clients.  Services began in October 2013 and feedback from parents has been very positive.  Several clients have reported they have begun to rebuild relationships with their children.

GSU and John Jay will also be conducting an evaluation through annual interviews, creating video-tapes of parent-child interactions, and by examining administrative data on child welfare reports and criminal recidivism. The goal of the evaluation is to determine whether the new services are helping families of drug court clients relative to families at a nearby control drug court.

Along with SafeCare, LSG offers a variety of services and programs to strengthen family relationships and build or maintain strong, healthy family units. Click here to learn more about Family Intervention Services.

Welcome to the Team!

Along with the move to the new location in the precedent months, we, here in Family Intervention Services and Foster Care, have also acquired some invaluable new team members, with a variety of personalities and backgrounds, to help us advance the program and settle into the new place. To get to know the rookies a little more, here is a brief summary of their background and path that led them to join LSG. Welcome to the Team!

FIS: Prevent Child Abuse with Six Protective Factors

LSG's Family Intervention Services recognizes April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, FIS encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Georgia a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities. Research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted. The six protective factors are: • Nurturing and attachment

• Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development

• Parental resilience

• Social connections

• Concrete supports for parents

• Social and emotional developmental well-being

April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children. In our country, a child is abused or neglected every 36 seconds, and, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, only 40 percent of abused children receive the services they need. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development.

Happy World Social Work Day and Social Worker Appreciation Month!

The month of March is National Social Work month, and this year’s theme is Social Work Matters.  Some social work matters include but are not limited to: adolescent development, aging and family caregiving, poverty reduction, non-profit management, and community development. Social Workers care for people in every stage of life, from childhood to late life, by helping families and individuals overcome life’s most difficult challenges. Some of the troubles that Social Workers work to alleviate include: poverty, stress, discrimination, addiction, abuse, depression, physical illness, unemployment, underemployment, divorce, disability, death, medical conditions, intellectual challenges, and mental illness. Social Workers help ensure the personal well-being of their clients; they prevent crises and counsel individuals and families, as well as make sure people get the help they need from the best resources available. For more than 100 years, Social Workers have been catering to the needs of lower-income families and individuals.

LSG is active in providing superior services in each of the areas listed above, and we would like to recognize all of our exceptional Social Workers at the agency. To celebrate the hard work of these Social Workers at LSG, Foster Care and Family Intervention Services recognizes National Social Work month and invites everyone to make a Social Worker at every level feel appreciated on March 20, 2012, World Social Work Day.

FIS: Healthy Families Have Hobbies

Thanks to New Year’s resolutions, January is typically the start of new habits and goals. It also just so happens that January is National Hobby Month. How convenient it is for all Foster Parents and children to take up new hobbies for the New Year. There are many hobbies that families can take up together that include, but are not limited to, sports, reading, games, art, learning an instrument, and/or karate. There are many benefits to taking up new hobbies for children. Hobbies can help with self-esteem development by allowing children to explore their own personalities, talents and creativity. Learning a new skill can lessen stress and help children easily define their purpose, especially during awkward period in their lives. Hobbies can also act as a bridge between parents and children who might experience a hard time connecting. Examples of bonding activities include cooking together, playing board games, or outdoor activities. Hiking and biking s are also examples of hobbies that can help make a family more physically healthy while promoting familial bonds.

Discuss with your family which hobbies interest each member of the family, then make time to do those activities. The more your family enjoys a hobby, the easier it is to stick to it. It is important to remember when taking up a hobby with your children that you should maintain a positive attitude and reward the children for their accomplishments. Children who are engaged in activities outside the school day are much happier than children who might become bored due to a lack of participation in the community. Boredom leads to poor decisions; hobbies lead to self esteem and positive personal development.

FIS: LSG Receives Grant to Help Maintain Family Bonds, Stability

For the Fiscal Year 2011-2012, Lutheran Services of Georgia was awarded a substantial amount from Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF). The grant award was far greater than what was gifted in FY 2010-2011. Last year, LSG was awarded a little over $90,000 and this year Family Intervention Services (FIS) was awarded more than $270,000.   Family Intervention Services is one of LSG’s newest programs and is an integral part of the Continuum of Care Model that provides services throughout a person’s lifetime. LSG is proud to be a continuing PSSF grant recipient as the primary goals of PSSF are to prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their families, improve the quality of care and services to children and their families, and ensure permanency for children. Family Intervention Services offers a variety of services to families that are consistent with the mission of the PSSF grant. The two primary programs that FIS offers services through are Supervised Family Visitation program and the A+ Parents program.

The Supervised Family Visitation program provides quality supervised family visitation between children and parents, relatives, care givers, and/or siblings. Visitation is provided in a home-like, nonthreatening, and neutral environment for meaningful contact between children and the people in their lives.  This program focuses on reunification efforts and maintaining family bonds.  Similarly, the A+ Parents program works diligently to improve both parents’, caregivers’, and children’s self esteem and skills with use of the Nurturing Parenting Program and SafeCare curriculum in a classroom or home setting. The program does this through eight 2.5 hour classes.

The staff in Family Intervention Services works diligently on seeing the results of these programs and continues to do a great job at carrying out the mission of PSSF which is why we are elated with the award gifted this year. For more information on Family Intervention Services call 404-591-7051 or send an email of inquiry to

FIS: Open Letter from a Former Client

Family Intervention Services recently received a letter of gratitude from a former client that warmed our hearts and reminded us all why we continue in this difficult but incredibly rewarding work. FIS is pleased that our services were so helpful for this family and hope that we can continue to have a similar effect on each family we provide services to in the future. Thank you, Mr. Spears. Mrs. Williams,

I am so thankful that we got to meet you and the wonderful people at Lutheran Services of Georgia. I must say that after seeing many counselors through our very troubling divorce, I was less than impressed and did not expect very much to come out of seeing anyone else. This was due to the fact that no one was willing to voice their opinions or truly get involved. I am so happy that you and your staff took the time and effort to get to know us and our situation and actually get involved in an effort to do what was best for our children. Thank you so much from my children and my self for all the time and effort that you put into our case. If there is anything that I can do to help you guys out in the future in the form of donating time or services please let me know.


 Chris Spears

Family Intervention Services: Deborah Battle Celebrates 10 Years with LSG

LSG congratulates FIS' Deborah Battle on 10 years with the agency, and looks forward to many more! When Deborah Battle obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, she was unsure of the direction she would go in so she stayed at her alma mater working in the Financial Aid Office immediately after college. Unbeknownst to Deborah, her best friend submitted her resume to NYC’s Child Welfare Administration where she worked for five short months. Unhappy with the idea of removing children from their homes, Deborah decided to go work for Little Flower Children’s Services where she quickly worked her way up to a supervising position. During her eight years at Little Flower Children’s Services, Deborah felt like she was doing more of helping families rather than disrupting them. This fulfillment made it hard for Deborah to depart when her family decided to move to Georgia.

While working for Department of Family and Children Services in the Foster Care division, Deborah met Kathy Sullivan who was the Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) Foster Care Supervisor at the time. Sullivan took note of Deborah’s superior case management skills and hired her on October 1, 2001. Foster Care has grown tremendously since Deborah started in 2001. The staff was much smaller, there were only three case managers and a supervisor and there were no satellite offices. In the ten years that Deborah has been with LSG she has served as a case manager, lead case manager, and recruiter, and has done agency intake as well as home study writing and more recently a trainer. Wearing many hats has been something that Deborah has come to appreciate, citing it as a way for her to learn so much and a way to never get bored here at LSG.

When asked what her plans with LSG were for the next decade, she replied “I’d like to continue to do training and working with FIS. I enjoy what I do, but eventually I’d like to be out of the ‘field’ altogether. I’m getting to old for the all of the driving.” She also believes that LSG is a Blessed agency and believes in the mission. She also added, “I am comfortable here; I love the people that I work with too. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on something when others leave, but then when I get to the see a child happy, healthy and progressing after they have been with and LSG home, the reward is immeasurable”.

Deborah has been an exceptional asset to Lutheran Services of Georgia and we congratulate her on 10 years of service with the agency and wish her many more pleasant years to come.