Going the Distance for Kids and Families
Some days, staff from LSSI's Children's Community Services in southern Illinois might drive four hours round trip to serve foster children—taking siblings to a supervised visit with parents or picking up children being removed from their homes. LSSI's Marion and Vienna offices serve surrounding communities with foster care services, Intact Family services, and the extended family support program.
"Our staff put their heart into their responsibilities," said Program Director Eve Rossin.
For parents reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family services for suspected abuse or neglect, Intact Family Services staff provides guidance, case management, and community resources referrals, to help keep families together and minimize trauma for children.
The foster care program places children who are removed from their homes and recruits and licenses foster parents.
Foster parents Jim and Tonya Hammer have adopted two children through LSSI's foster care program. Staff supported them as foster parents and through the adoption.
"Being a foster parent is hard work," said Tonya. "We've had positive experiences with LSSI staff just listening to us." Added Jim, "Kids are trying to form their life view and personalities. Positive life experiences produce positive lives."
When children are removed from their homes but can be placed in a relative's house, the extended family support program assists that family member with acquiring DCFS licensure, which is required for relative and nonrelative foster parents.
"Children now in their 20s call me to check in," Rossin said of LSSI's impact on families. "Moms stop by to say they still have their kids."