October 4, 2019 | Comments Off on Fostering Fellowship And Family
Sharon Lewis Shares Her Experience As A Therapeutic Foster Parent At Alexander Youth Network.
Sharon Lewis has been a part of the Alexander Youth Network family for 16 years and is currently a foster parent for a young boy, Jasun, in our Charlotte Day Treatment program. Jason* is one of the many lives at Alexander that Ms. Lewis has transformed by offering a safe haven for fellowship, growth, and family.
Ms. Lewis started fostering out of the desire to mentor and be a positive change in a young child’s life. When her own daughter was 10 years old she opened her home to offer children at Alexander as a safe and welcoming space to heal. Some of those kids have stayed for two weeks and some for two years but through it, all Ms. Lewis has been a constant guiding kids through their treatment plan.
“My focus is to keep the child happy and focused on the end goal… but at the same time, I am a parent offering hugs, jokes, and the little things kids need to be comfortable and to succeed,” Sharon Lewis.
Her most impactful experience was with her second placement at Alexander, a young girl, Katy*, around the age of 12. Katy immediately connected with Ms. Lewis and her daughter fitting into the family and daily routine. To this day Ms. Lewis is still in contact with Katy, seeing that she lives in the same community as her daughter and the two are still best friends. Ms. Lewis attributes Katy’s success to the lasting connection and support that the TFC program offers children and their biological families at Alexander.
“It is a beautiful thing to see children and parents grow together. It strengthens their bond and I am happy to help foster that fellowship as a TFC parent,” Ms. Lewis.
Ms. Lewis notes that like any child, while there are still good days and bad days, there are ample opportunities to learn and grow. She uses transitions and new experiences as a chance to help nurture the children under her care, set expectations, and help educate them on how to manage their behavioral challenges in new settings. Ms. Lewis keeps reunification in mind in all of her strategies as a co-parent. She is a firm believer in reunification whenever possible and tries to foster as many positive interactions with her foster child and their biological family during their stay. She says that knowing that you are helping a child get back to where they need to be (parent and child) is a happy process, and watching them both grow is part of her motivation to continue as a foster parent.
Over the next few weeks, Ms. Lewis will be coordinating a series of trips for her current foster child, Jasun. Together they will get to experience birthday parties, dinners with family, and beach outings, all normal activities for a child not seeking care at Alexander. Yet for Jasun, this is the first time he will be doing any of it. Ms. Lewis and other foster parents at Alexander provide more than just a placement but a home and family – although temporary, it is an everlasting backbone for positive growth and success.
“I am here to keep him and others on track and progress,” Ms. Lewis.
As a part of her planned travel, Ms. Lewis has worked with case coordinators to set up an outing with Jasun’s sibling, the two of which hope to be reunited in a permanent foster care placement post-treatment.
This foster parent feature is in support of the Foster Care Critical Needs Fund sponsored by the Alexander Children’s Foundation. This fund provides vital resources and support to the generous families who have opened their homes to the children at Alexander. To support the Therapeutic Foster Parents at Alexander or to learn more about the campaign, please visit the campaign page or connect with the Alexander Children’s Foundation.
Written by Emily Gordon.
* At Alexander Youth Network we respect our clients and their families. In order to maintain their anonymity, Alexander has changed the names of individuals and some identifying details such as physical properties, place of treatment and location.