Letter to the General Public

Letter to the General Public, Clients, and Hoyleton Family and Friends,

During this time of uncertainty, it is clear that we will continue to serve our clients and our communities while maintaining a healthy workplace for our employees. While communication is very fluid and the local, state, and federal governments are communicating continually, Hoyleton wants to do the same with you, our clients, supporters, and families.

We will continue to support you as Hoyleton has in the past. Hoyleton was started 125 years ago because of the pandemic of the Cholera Outbreak, and we will continue services during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis. We know that these days everyone is feeling anxious and are unsure of how each day looks from our regular ‘normal,’ but we WILL succeed in supporting each of you to the best we can in the days and weeks to come.

We have identified several-staff that can work from home and still be able to support their clients. Our 24-hour residential sites will remain open. We will adhere to CDC Guidelines as we continue planning to provide service to our children and families.

What is Hoyleton doing:

Over the next few days and weeks, we will be working to provide you multiple resources that will hopefully be tools for you to continue to support you and your families during this difficult time. We will be sharing information that families can get meals for their children, resources to help keep children occupied while at home, and support you when and where you need Hoyleton.

For our Foster Parents, please know we are continuing board payments as scheduled. Your Case Manager will be contacting you directly this week to help with immediate needs that you and your children may have.

For our donors, this is the time when we need you more than ever.

To our clients, while the delivery of our service might look different, we maintain our commitment to serving you and your family.

CDC Guidelines: (this is an active link to the CDC)
Take steps to protect yourself

Clean your hands often:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others

Stay home if you’re sick:

Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

Cover coughs and sneezes:

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a facemask if you are sick:

If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect:

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Believing in the Mission

When asked to write a blog post on philanthropy, I want to be honest with you; I wondered how I could explain the meaning of philanthropy through the written word? For more than 25 years, I have been taught, mentored, and instructed that philanthropy is about building relationships, communicating, and explaining the purpose and mission of the organization face-to-face. However, with that written, grab a cup of coffee and let me share this perspective. 

If I call you for a visit, my goal is to learn more about you and what makes you passionate about your favorite charity – of which I hope is Hoyleton Youth and Family Services is your choice.

Donors come to an organization based on the mission. They need to believe in the mission and purpose, and if the organization shows they are worthy of trust and dedication, donors will continue to support the organization. Dependability and transparency are critical – we must be true to our word as an organization, and that must be what you as a donor feels about us.

If you desire to make a difference - you want to feel as if your gift has a direct impact on improving a child's situation. At Hoyleton, we do our best to share the outcomes and stories of children in our care. At times, it is difficult because of HIPPA regulations, but we want our donors to know they are making a difference!

Personal satisfaction has shown that kindness activates dopamine, which produces similar brain activity in regions correlated with the perception of enjoyment and reward — for many, giving feels good, if not better than exercise.

Being a part of a family tradition, where giving has been handed down from generation to generation, influences a donor's decision to give. Behavior taught at a young age remains with us into adulthood. It is an emotional act to donate. Connecting to personal stories puts a human face on what we're doing at Hoyleton.  It is vital, as a philanthropic donor, you feel a connection to the many services we're providing, whether current or past.

The power of social media, innovation, and digital donations create a new organization-donor relationship. Peer-to-peer donations have increased and generate excitement about Hoyleton by following Facebook and other social media platforms.

People give for many reasons. I still believe communication and relationships are the number one way to build a donor base. A cup of coffee can provide opportunities for both the donor and Hoyleton to exchange ideas about a shared mission. I agree that one of my main objectives is to ensure that our supporters are respected, sponsored, and treasured because we cannot serve others without you. I look forward to seeing how your contribution will help Hoyleton and, more importantly, how it can complete your plan to donate! You can reach the Philanthropy Department at 618.688.7094. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You and Yours.

Perspectives From a Multiracial Family | Guest Blogger: Kirsten Peterson

Foster care. Adoption. These two words can invoke a myriad of emotions and questions as to how best care for children who need a place to call home. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families, reported 437,000 children in foster care for fiscal year 2018.1 As 2018, one-third of children entering the US foster care system are young children of color.

Fostering or adopting a child from a different ethnic, cultural, or racial group can present unique challenges. However, the best way to meet these challenges is to acknowledge their existence in an open and honest space. Guest writer, Kirsten Peterson, shares how intentional parenting has set her multiracial family on the road to success.

“The alarm clock rings at five-thirty in the morning. I stretch, say a quick prayer of gratitude, and let my feet hit the floor: off to another day as a single mom of five children. Our day does not run much different than anyone else’s day. Regardless of the color of our skin, or ethnic background, we all get ready for school and work—hustling for last-minute items no matter how prepared the night before. I hug my boys before they walk the three blocks to their public school–a school district I purposefully moved our family into eight years ago. I drive my girls to our chosen high school, and then the local train station for my eldest to take a train into the city for cosmetology school.

Here is where my story is different. I am the parent of a multiracial family. Yes, as a parent of biological children, I am sure I would have looked at schools and churches very intentionally for my children. However, most likely, racial diversity would not have been a priority. I want to give my adoptive children a life where they do not “feel” adopted by conspicuously standing out in the crowd. I want to honor my children’s’ culture and ethnicity— a black daughter and four mixed (my kids’ preferred term).

As a parent, we want our children to share in some of our cherished personal memories. I attended a Catholic school in my youth and wanted the same experience for my eldest daughter. I began looking at schools and quickly realized the schools lacked the diversity I felt would be essential in my daughter’s academic success. I continued searching and found a school that met my expectations. I had to travel outside of my city to enroll my daughter, but it was the best thing I did. Seeing my daughter attend a school with children who looked like her was an enjoyable experience. My daughter flourished in that environment. This experience opened my eyes to a space that I otherwise would neither have known nor experienced.

Honestly, parenting a multiracial family is not much different for me than if I were parenting biological children. I would still be an intentional parent looking for the best fit for my children in school, church, and extracurricular activities. I would have the additional responsibility of ensuring that my racially diverse children are seen and heard in an environment that embraces their uniqueness.”

Interested in helping a child find their forever home through adoption or foster care? For more information, call Jodi Robinson at 618.688.4727 or email at jrobinson@wordpress.compu-type.net.

A special thank you to Kirsten Peterson for sharing her family’s story.

1US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY2018 data. August 22, 2019. URL: AFCARS FY 2018 Data

Fall Family Activities

Now that the stress of finding the perfect Halloween costume for your kid is over, you can focus on spending quality time with your kiddos before the business of the Christmas season kicks off. Sometimes, it can be challenging to travel far with kiddos, so here are some fun (and inexpensive) fall activities you and your family can enjoy together!

Halloween Candy Exchange
Friday, November 1, 2019 | The Lode Indoor Wave Pool | 4 – 8 PM
Cost: FREE with registration and 1 pound of candy donated by each registrant

The purpose of this event is to help families be healthier this Halloween and trade their candy for a pass to The Lodge Indoor Wave Pool on November 1. Where does the candy go? To the USO of Missouri for our troops. This is an event that you will want to register for, because it may sell out!

Autumn Harvest Festival
Saturday, November 2, 2019 | Eckert’s | 10 AM – 4 PM
Cost: FREE

This is an event fun for all ages! Your family can enjoy apple picking, along with free activities and rides for your kids. No registration required.

Sensory Saturdays

Saturday, November 9, 2019 | Saint Louis Zoo | 9:30 AM

Cost: Tickets for Sensory Saturday and all Wild Wonder Outpost sessions are $2 per person for Zoo members and $3 per person for non-members. Children under one year are free. 

Sensory Saturday sessions feature dimmer lighting, reduced sound and a sensory-break area with fidgets (self-regulation tools to help with focus, attention, calming, and active listening), pillows and other accommodations. Zoo staff members are experienced in working with children with special needs.

Free Family Night @ MADE

Friday, November 15, 2019 | The Magic House –on Delmar Boulevard | 5 – 8 PM
Cost: FREE

This is a night free of charge for you and your family to get together and enjoy some fun! The free admission is up to two adults and four of their children.

The Great Green Adventures
Saturday, November 16, 2019 | Missouri Botanical Garden | 10:30 – 11:30 AM or 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Cost: FREE for Garden members or $3 per child (with Garden Admission) for non-members

Great Green Adventures are drop-in activities that explore a special part of the Garden each month. You and your child will learn about plants, nature and green living through hands-on activities, journaling, stories, and games. This is an event that you do not have to pre-register for!

We hope you’re able to enjoy some fun fall activities with your family this year! While doing so, remember you are creating memories with your children that your family will cherish forever.

Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating

Sticky fingers

Tired feet;

One last house,

‘Trick or Treat”

~Rusty Fischer, Authour

Well, it this that time again, my friends. A time when the lights go dim, and the neighborhood witches, ghosts, and goblins set off in search of tricks-or-treats. That is correct, Halloween is upon us all! However, before you send your little candy monsters out into the wilds of your neighborhood, be sure to keep them safe with these tips…

Keep it Safe on the Streets...

Witches are Cute, but…

Let’s Make Halloween Fun For All…

Halloween is a time to enjoy the fall evening with friends and neighbors. These useful tips will make the evening enjoyable for all. Have a ghostly good time and Happy Halloween from Hoyleton Youth and Family Services!

Three Tips to Keep Your Child Safe

By: Karlee Brimberry

National Baby Safety Month is recognized in September and was established over three decades ago by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). The purpose of this initiative is to raise awareness around safety concerns for babies and small children. Kristen Shinn, who is the Director of Community Support Services here at Hoyleton Youth and Family Services, has had the honor of coordinating the Southern Illinois Child Death Investigation Task Force for the past 5 years. Through this opportunity, Kristen has been able to better protect our communities most vulnerable. “Our work tells the story of those whose voices can no longer be heard.”

This year’s main topic for National Baby Safety Month focuses on educating parents/caregivers on ways to identify appropriate products and recognizing when it is time to transition to different products according to the child’s: age, weight, and developmental needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death for children younger than four years old in the United States is due to preventable injuries.

Here are three simple tips to keep your child safe:

1. Baby-proof your home.
Most people think of baby-proofing their home as an early step taken during a mother’s pregnancy; however, this should be an ongoing process as your child grows and develops. One of the best ways to ensure your house is safe from injuries is to look at things from your child’s perspective. Get down on their level and go through your home as if your child would. Specifically, look at electrical sockets, cords, dishwashers, poisonous plants and cleaning materials, things hanging off your table or counters, etc.


2. Be aware of the toys and products your child uses.
For infants, there have been many recalls on sleepers, bouncers, swings, etc. For a specific list of products that have been recalled, visit: safekids.org. If you use a sleeper or bouncer, never put it on top of a table, counter, or high surface where it could easily fall.


3. Safe sleeping practices.
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 3,500 sleep-related deaths each year, of babies in the United States. Parents can take preventable measures to ensure this does not happen to their child. First, research the crib you purchase for your child; make sure it has not been recalled. When your baby is in the crib, it should be bare with no stuffed animals or blankets. Also, be sure to use a fitted mattress so that there are no gaps where the mattress meets the crib. It is suggested that your baby sleeps in the same room (NOT bed) as you for their first year of life. Lastly, do not sleep with your infant; put them in a safe sleeping environment like one mentioned above.


Taking these preventative steps are simple, yet could save a baby’s life. It is okay to ask for help and support. If you would like more information on this topic, or are looking for support – contact us today at (618) 688-4727.

Kinship Care: A Guide for Grandparents

There are a wide range of circumstances that can leave older adults in charge of their grandchildren’s care. Whether the situation was sudden or gradual, older adults who are thrust into the position of the sole provider/caregiver for young relatives may feel lost or overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are many different resources to help the 100,000-plus grandparents who find themselves taking care of children, long after expected. 

Here are some helpful tips and information to guide grandparents through kinship care: 

Prepare for shifting roles

There are many logistical preparations grandparents should make before assuming the role of a primary guardian, but perhaps the greatest thing to be prepared for is a shift in the relationship. The traditional grandparent-grandchild relationship often consists of weekend visits, holiday events, and interactions may largely be centered around play, however, the requirements of daily care can cause the relationship dynamic between grandparents and grandchildren to change. 

Regardless of how this relationship shifts, grandparents and their grandchildren can enjoy a beautifully close relationship with one another. If either the older adult or child (or both parties) seem to be having a difficult time with the change in parental roles or living situations, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services offer supportive counseling services that can help with any adjustment anxiety. 

Gather support where you can

Even the most fiscally responsible older adults, sometimes struggle to afford the daily necessities of life. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes additional factors such as geographical location and homeownership status into account, as many as 7.2 million U.S. seniors lived in poverty in 2017. Coupled with the issue of food insecurity, which is most prevalent across senior populations, the added responsibility of a younger relative can be financially burdensome. In fact, the SNAP program (commonly referred to as “food stamps”) reports that almost one in five seniors living with grandchildren is food insecure, yet three in five seniors who qualify for the SNAP program don’t participate. 

Whether needing assistance with paying for food, rent, medical insurance or other daily needs, older adults can seek out the various benefits they may be eligible for with this helpful, Benefits Check Up tool and with the Illinois Department of Family Services’ list of useful resources, specific to older adults caring for a child. 

 Support the child through difficult times 

Just because an older adult is the legal guardian of a grandchild doesn’t mean the child’s parent is out of the picture. If possible and in the best interest of the child, share information about the child’s life with parents, including their school activities, hobbies, and life milestones or events. Establish a routine for visits and schedule in advance, to ensure that everyone is comfortable and on the same page about the visit, especially the child.

Regardless of the potentially frustrating circumstances that led to a child living with a grandparent or other older relative, it’s critical that grandparents do their best not to speak negatively about the parent in front of the child and to not make them feel guilty for wanting to spend time with their parent, as it can be confusing and upsetting to them. Instead, older adults should try to get a sense of how the child feels about their parent(s), and ease any uncertainties, anxieties or disappointments surrounding visits. 

 There’s no foolproof plan for raising children, especially for older adults who likely thought their child-rearing days were far behind them, however, this information can help support older adults as they navigate this unique journey. 

Travel Tips for Families With Special Needs Children

With longer days, warmer weather, and the kids out of school, summers are ideal for families to catch up on some quality time together after a busy school year. Travel is a great way to bond with loved ones, but parents of special needs children may feel that this isn’t an option. On the contrary, taking a trip can be an engaging, educational, or inspirational experience for special needs children, regardless of their behavioral health conditions.
Here are some tips that can help make travel with high needs kids more enjoyable for everyone:

Prepare Whenever Possible
Whether or not parents have children with special needs, traveling with kids can have its hiccups, but a little bit of preparation can minimize these unexpected moments and give parents peace of mind. Though there are some things that are out of parents’ control, being proactive about the factors they can control is the easiest way to keep things running smoothly.

Parents can start by ensuring their special needs children are getting a full night’s sleep in general, but especially leading up to a trip. Make sure nutritious snacks are packed for them, which will provide the energy for a long day of travel or exploration. Taking these simple steps can help reduce crankiness and meltdowns, and give kids the opportunity to feel (and behave) to the best of their ability. If a special needs child is in foster care, don’t forget to check in with their case worker before leaving on a trip! 

Consider the Best Options
Though parents can’t always plan everything around their children’s wants, making a few concessions here and there may be in everyone’s best interests. Being able to anticipate a special needs child’s comfort levels in certain situations can be invaluable in the long run. Parents should consider travel destinations with activities that are conducive to their child’s likes and dislikes. For example, if a special needs child gets antsy around large crowds, don’t plan a trip to a place that is likely to be crowded, like an amusement park. Instead opt for a place with open spaces, like a national park.
If a special needs child doesn’t do well being away from home, it doesn’t mean travel is out of the question. A simple remedy to this is bringing along comfort items that remind them of home, like a blanket, a stuffed animal, or bringing along familiar movies. Choosing to travel by car gives families of special needs children much-needed freedom and control, versus traveling by plane, which can come with extensive delays, long layovers, and impatient passengers. 

Make the Best of Things
One of the most valuable things to remember when traveling with special needs children is to manage expectations, yet remain positive. Although a change in scenery and routine can be rewarding, it’s unrealistic to expect things to be perfect on vacation if there are typically difficult moments with special needs children on a daily basis. But despite any challenging instances that may crop up, it’s important to look at the trip as a whole, rather than focusing in on those passing moments of stress.
Parents should remember to keep a sense of humor and try to be present during these family trips and outings. Making the effort to approach less-than-ideal situations with a relaxed, positive outlook can free up space to focus on the good and make more meaningful connections with their children.

Following these few strategies can help make family travel with special needs children more efficient and less stressful so that everyone can focus on making happy memories with loved ones!
If your child has a hard time adjusting after a summer trip, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services offers counseling services. Contact the Behavioral Health Department for more information (618) 688 – 4727.

American Academy of Pediatrics : https://www.aap.org/en-us/Pages/Default.aspx
Illinois Department of Natural Resources : https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Pages/default.aspx

How to Build Strong Sibling Bonds Between Biological & Foster Kids

Foster kids and biological children are brought together to become siblings under a variety of circumstances. When a foster parent receives a new placement, they view that child as their own for the duration that the child is with them. It is imperative for each child to get along and earn a mutual respect, appreciation and love for one another.

Regardless of the family dynamics, relationships between siblings are greatly impactful. Here’s a guide for parents to help handle these relationships:

Start a Dialogue

Many foster children have endured traumatic circumstances and may have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms and behavioral issues, as a result. Due to this, it’s easy for parents to direct the majority of attention to the foster child and, by comparison, it can seem that biological children are “fine.” But just because biological children may not require this additional attention, it does not mean they aren’t experiencing a whirlwind of feelings prompted by this adjustment.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, these feelings can include a sense of loss of family closeness, fear of physical harm or having belongings stolen, and feeling the effects of higher stress levels within the family. Families should be intentional about talking and expressing feelings at the onset to avoid building resentment that’s much harder to remove later.

“It’s important to let each child know they are being heard and that their opinion matters. By letting my children know they are heard, I am also able to see how I can be a better parent for them.” – Stephanie, Foster Mother of 10 years


Keep It Balanced

Life can get so busy that parents struggle to complete the daily necessities, much less adequately divide their time between the children in their homes, but even if certain mental, physical or behavioral needs skew the balance of time spent toward one child, there are other ways to ensure that each child feels equally valued.

One simple way families do this is by holding both biological and foster children to the same standard of behavior. If special needs exist, they should be accommodated, but it’s important to avoid using either child as a positive or negative example to the other.

“Each of my children have different needs and that’s what I love about them. They are each unique in their own way.” – Stephanie, Foster Mother of 10 years


Create Meaningful Moments

The importance of siblings spending time together may seem obvious, but those moments of bonding can be more impactful than parents realize. Children are living through one of the most formative periods of their lives. Life’s moments and experiences are deeply felt and carried throughout life. If children are coming from a traumatic environment, creating these supportive moments is all the more valuable.

Parents should begin new traditions with input from both children. Promoting these kinds of positive interactions creates a sense of belonging for foster children and helps biological kids adjust to the shift in family dynamic. Overall, this reinforces the family unit and creates a level of stability both biological and foster kids can benefit from.

“My husband and I made it a point to have at least one day dedicated to our family and building a strong relationship between all of our children. By doing this, it’s connecting our family together and allowing our foster children to know that they are a part of our family.” – Stephanie, Foster Mother of 10 years


 Each family dynamic is different, but we hope these tips and insights can help parents strengthen the bonds between their children. If you would like to find out more about fostering or how we support families, contact us.