LSG Nurse Helps Clients Reach Healthy Tomorrows

When Cathy Dandelakis’ son entered the FACES program, little did she know that this was only the beginning of her involvement with Lutheran Services of Georgia. LSG’s FACES program places individuals with developmental disabilities in supportive host homes where they can thrive.

Cathy holds 37 years of knowledge and experience serving medically-fragile populations as a mother, a teacher, a nurse, and a caregiver. Her passion for caregiving began while in nursing school. During the summer, she worked the night shift on a cancer ward as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN). Along with caring for the physical needs of her patients, she provided emotional support and companionship for patients in their final moments. “I worked with people who were sleepless, who were sad, who were angry, who were lonely, and many would pass away with no family in the middle of the night,” she recalled. Cathy’s presence reminded them that they were not alone. There, on the cancer ward, she discovered that nursing was more than a career for her—it was her calling.

After Cathy’s son entered FACES, LSG asked Cathy to help train the support companions who would become her son’s primary caregivers. Cathy agreed and was of such tremendous help to FACES staff and volunteers that LSG asked Cathy to provide training for other host homes. She began writing protocol for FACES case managers, sharing best practices for working with medically-fragile people.

In January 2013, Cathy agreed to join the LSG staff. Her current role includes handling administrative work connected with LSG’s medically-fragile clients, visiting host homes, writing healthcare protocol, and training LSG staff and caregivers. Cathy is always on-call to provide respite assistance or guidance for caregivers and case managers. “As a mother of a very handicapped person,” she remarked, “I know the value of respite. Everyone needs respite, and more than once a year. They need it frequently to replenish themselves, to replenish their souls.”

Cathy’s passion and expertise are immensely beneficial for LSG staff and clients. Cathy used her familiarity with the medical world to advocate on behalf of Matthew*, a nine-year-old boy in LSG’s specialized foster care program. Matthew has SMA Type 1, a rare disease that kills most infants born with it within their first two years of life. Given Matthew’s extreme fragility, the Georgia Department of Family and Child Services expressed concern about his care. Cathy visited Matthew’s foster family and nurse, and then reported back to DFCS that Matthew was indeed receiving great care. Now, Cathy visits the family every few months to check in on their needs. Thanks to the collaboration of Cathy, the foster family, and Matthew’s nurses, Matthew has not been hospitalized for over six years, a truly remarkable accomplishment.

LSG thanks Cathy for using her knowledge, skills, and love of caregiving to help provide excellent care and bring healthy tomorrows to individuals and families throughout Georgia.

*Name has been changed to protect the client.

Taylor Brand Made Vice Chair of Foster Family-Based Treatment Association--Georgia!

Lutheran Services of Georgia congratulates Taylor Brand, LSG's Senior Program Manager for Specialized Foster Care and Family Intervention Services in Atlanta, on being selected as the 2014 Vice Chair of the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association (FFTA)'s Georgia Chapter! Taylor will serve as the Vice Chair to Chair Sally Buchanan, CEO of Creative Community Services, Inc.

FFTA is an association of organizations that provide treatment foster care, a unique model of care that combines a nurturing family environment with structured treatment. FFTA aims to strengthen agencies that support families caring for vulnerable children.

Taylor said, "I'm excited to be the Vice Chair of FFTA. I've worked in and around foster care for many years and have seen first-hand the benefits of treatment foster care. This is a great opportunity to sit at the table each month with Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) leadership and advocate for children and families. FFTA is recognized nationally, so I will be in a position to advocate for children in foster care on a national and state level."

Taylor is not the first LSG staff member to serve in a leadership role with FFTA's Georgia Chapter. Alie Redd, LSG's State Manager for Specialized Foster Care, Family Intervention Services, and Adoption previously served as the Co-Chair of FFTA. Alie said, "I am excited to present and pass the torch for 2014 Vice Chair to Taylor. Her voice, expertise, and advocacy for children and families will ring throughout both the state of Georgia and the nation."

Congratulations, Taylor!

To learn more about FFTA, click here.

 

 

 

Recognizing our Foster Parents!

In honor of May being National Foster Care Month, Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) would like to recognize the compassionate people who make a difference in children’s lives by serving as foster parents, advocates, social workers and volunteers. This month and throughout the year, LSG works in conjunction with these generous individuals to find and support loving foster homes for children in Georgia. LSG provides specialized foster care services to healthy infants and children who are medically fragile, children with autism and other developmental delays, large sibling groups, and teenagers with behavioral and mental health challenges. In order to give these children and youth the support that they need, we rely on the dedication of foster parents and other caregivers. “Our foster parents are committed and compassionate people with a heart for children,” says Taylor Brand, Program Manager for Foster Care. “They are highly trained and heavily supported by an amazing team of social workers. From our longtime foster parents to those newly recruited, we are grateful to have them on our team providing a home and a family for Georgia’s most vulnerable population.”

“Foster parents are the heart of our department,” adds Latrice Stowe, Clinical Supervisor for Foster Care. “Without loving and committed foster parents we would not be able to do the work that we do. Foster parents play such a vital role in the lives of those children who come into the foster care system with an array of problems associated with child abuse and/or neglect. Foster parents nurture, love, and take the time and dedication to meet the basic needs of care for the children placed in their home.”

On June 8, LSG will be hosting a cookout to celebrate the contributions of these wonderful foster parents. If you would like to join us in thanking them by contributing a gift, you can send checks or gift cards to:

Lutheran Services of Georgia 100 Edgewood Ave. NE, Suite 1800 Atlanta, GA 30303

LSG thanks all its amazing foster parents and the people who support them and our foster care program in other ways!

Here Comes Santa Claus! Foster Care and FACES Holiday Party

Amid the sweet smells of honey buttered rolls and roasted chicken, the children, participants and families crowded in for a celebration of family, friends, and the holiday season. After greetings were passed, and everyone was all full and fed (the excessive amount of bread pudding was to blame) Old Saint Nick came frolicking in sporting that ever-so-famous white beard and bright-red attire. The children and FACES participants, after tugging on his beard to confirm its “realness,” eagerly awaited their chance to tell him their holiday wishes. After many hugs, jolly laughs, and adorable photographs, everyone settled down for the next activity—the gift raffle. From Museum vouchers to Six Flags tickets, and all the prizes in between, everyone went home a winner! Thanks to our enthusiastic winners, laughter filled the room as those energetic parents entertained the entire party with celebratory dancing! The rest of the night went about in the same lively manner. All in all, due to a great turnout, bountiful amounts of delicious food, and many laughs, the night was a huge success! Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, and families in attendance for another wonderful Christmas Party!

A special thanks to the following organizations/people for their contributions and donations: 1. Six Flags Over Georgia 2. Imagine It! Children’s Museum 3. Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff 4. Center for Puppetry Arts 5. Zoo Atlanta 6. Golden Corral (Jonesboro) 7. Joe Menchoffer (Santa) 8. Women of the ELCA Magi Cluster and friends 9. Sisters of the Good Shepherd Circle of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer

Chad Steinborn is the marketing coordinator for Lutheran Services of Georgia

ADOPTION: More Families, More Placements in 2012

As we move into the New Year, our Adoption staff has renewed their passion and commitment to finding families for children waiting for a permanent home. We have scheduled IMPACT training classes for parents who want to adopt from the foster care system, and have also scheduled our Cooperative Open Adoption training for parents wanting to adopt newborn infants. IMPACT is scheduled at theAtlantaoffice on January 21 and 22. The Cooperative Open Adoption Training for Parents is scheduled for February 4, 2012. We have invited 14 prospective adoptive families for IMPACT and have extended the invitation for the class to foster families needing to be trained as well. We have invited 25 prospective adoptive families to the newborn infant training.  Families may be trained in both programs if they wish to be considered for children as they are available and need homes, whether they are infants or older children.

The Adoption Program has approximately 35 approved homes watching to be matched with a child at any given time.

Please contact either Anne Boyte at aboyte@lsga.org or Electra Evans at eevans@lsga.org if you have any questions about either of these classes.

Foster Care: LSG Bids Farewell to 10-Year Employee

Foster Care case manager Kim Welsh begins new career as a nurse, but won't forget her coworkers or clients A bittersweet farewell is in order as Lutheran Services of Georgia’s Specialized Foster Care Program says goodbye to Kimberley Welsh, who has served as a case worker with LSG for almost 10 years. Kim has been involved in social services for more than 15 years, working with the homeless, medically fragile and teenage mothers, to name a few. Starting in New York City, Kim came to Lutheran Services in March of 2002 after working for the Department of Family and Children Services

Kim attributes her dedication to social work to the children she has encountered over the years. One story in particular that will forever remain in her memory is the story of a brother and sister. Since leaving foster care, the sister has had the opportunity to study abroad and will be finishing college soon, while her brother, who is mentally challenged, is doing well in a home for adult care.

“You hardly get to see the results of the work you put in so it was nice to find out they are one of those success stories you dream about as a young social worker,” Kim says.

It was not an easy thing for Kim to learn, but her tenure here at LSG has taught her that as much as you want to help someone, there is only so much you can do to impact the lives of others.

As a person who prides herself on being passionate about seeing results with her clients, Kim plans to remain faithful to serving others – except now it will be done in a different form. As she changes careers to become a Registered Nurse atPiedmontHospital, Kim plans to keep a close relationship with LSG and share her medical expertise. Kim will miss the close-knit family that exists at LSG and the fun times she has had, but will miss her clients and foster parents most of all.

Kim hopes to leave behind a legacy of her motivation and wishes everyone at LSG many more great years of success. On behalf of Specialized Foster Care, we congratulate Kim on her new journey.

Farewell, Kimberley Welsh!