From LifeSet to Police Officer: Fryday Catch-up

Fryday holding a 2019 Impact Report where he was featured on the cover.

If you were part of Hoyleton in 2020 you may have met or heard a story or two about former client Fryday Nelson. This young man, and his son Zai'den, stole the hearts of many when they were special guests at our Hoyleton Honors banquet back in February of 2020.

After completing the ILO program, Fryday got a job in the trucking business. The trucking job helped him make money to secure housing and pay his bills but Fryday did not like the long days on the road and he knew he had a calling to do something else, so in late 2021 Fryday took a leap of faith and applied to the St. Louis Police Academy.

Fryday shared his story of being removed from his home and placed in foster care right before he started kindergarten. He spent his childhood moving in and out of different family members' homes as well as a few foster homes. Fryday shared that even when times were difficult he had the ability to rely on himself and his faith in the Lord to keep him going. When Fryday reached adulthood he became a client of Hoyleton's in our ILO program. It was there, with the support and guidance of his caseworker, Nikki Klienik, that he gained the knowledge and skills he needed to support himself and his young son Zai'den. Fryday and Nikki worked together to establish a plan with priorities and attainable goals. "My caseworker Nikki made me feel like the sky was the limit for me! She was so supportive and always did what she said she was going to do which helped me stay on the right path," Fryday said.

Nikki remembers meeting Fryday for the first time because she said there was an instant connection. “My first visit with Fryday happened because I was covering for another caseworker who was on vacation, but after that first meeting I knew I wanted to have Fryday on my caseload,” Nikki said.  “We were able to talk so easily about everything he was going through at the time and I could see the potential in him and knew I could help,” Nikki added.

"The physical training was grueling and the written exam was the longest test I had ever taken but I passed them both," Fryday said with a big smile! In September of 2022, with his case worker Nikki in the crowd, Fryday graduated from the St Louis Police Academy and is now a night patrolman in the city of St. Louis. He loves his job but already has a new goal of becoming an Illinois State Police officer! When he encounters a troubled youth out on the street he makes sure they know they have choices and he lets them know there are places to go where people will help them get their life straightened out. He says he shares with everyone what Hoyleton did for him.


Fryday says he is thankful and feels very blessed to be where his in in life. He is appreciative of the support he received at Hoyleton, especially from his caseworker Nikki, and believes that support helped him get to where he is today.

Fryday's son Zai'den is a smart, happy eight year old boy and Fryday is engaged to a lady who just graduated from nursing school so the future is look very bright. "My faith in God, belief in myself and Hoyleton's support really made a difference in my life!"

The Importance of Cultural Identity for Foster Youth

Cultural identity plays a key role in children’s lives; it is a significant part of who they are. Oftentimes cultural identity is marginalized or disregarded for children in foster care, which can lead to higher levels of loneliness and depression, lower self-esteem and difficult psychological adjustments that in turn affect coping skills and learning. Therefore, the role cultural identity plays in the overall well-being of a child cannot be ignored.

Currently there are only four states in the US that legally and explicitly provide the right to cultural heritage activities for youth in foster care via their foster youth bill of rights. In Illinois, the law states it is the foster parent’s responsibility to support activities for foster youth that continue a relationship with their cultural heritage. In Missouri, the law states foster parents shall provide care respectful of a youth’s cultural identity. However, in both states, there is little legal accountability to make sure foster parents are actually engaging in such practices. In many instances, even the most intentioned foster parents find it difficult to find the proper cultural resources for the child.

There are many ways foster parents, as well as other individuals working with youth, can promote cultural identity. It begins by asking the youth questions about the cultural practices, norms or traditions that are important to them. Cultural identity forms during primary socialization, a stage in life when a child learns how to view the world through their immediate family and close friends. If this core group can expose the foster child to their heritage in this stage, the child can develop a higher level of social well-being. Key cultural distinctions are food, holidays, age milestones, music, dancing, clothing and language. Connecting foster youth to these aspects of their culture by pursuing activities that expose them to ethnic food, music, rituals and events is key to helping them strengthen their identity. By recognizing and teaching a foster child about their cultural background, the child acquires the group’s core values and adopts their sociocultural practices and rituals, which helps the child position him or herself in society.

In 2016, with more than 437,000 children in foster care in the United States, 44% identified as white, 23% black, 21% Hispanic, 9% multiracial and 2% unknown ethnicities. All of these children should have the right to learn and embrace their heritage. If you are currently caring for a foster child or will be with family this holiday season with a child from another ethnic group, please recognize and celebrate their culture with them. We can all learn from each other.

How One Foster Family Is Making a Difference in the Life of a Youth With Disabilities

Hoyleton Youth and Family Services provides specialized resources and support during extenuating circumstances. Nicole and Nick Nolte quickly became aware of these opportunities when they were contacted by DCFS regarding a friend’s daughter, Ariana, who at the age of 11 was placed in protective custody and admitted to Cardinal Glennon Hospital suffering from signs of severe neglect.

The Noltes were referred to Hoyleton Youth and Family Services and formed a plan to bring Ariana home. Getting home would be a long transition and require planning as Ariana suffers from cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, epilepsy and neuromuscular scoliosis. She requires constant care and assistance as she is non-weight bearing, has a G-tube for feeding and cannot use words to communicate.

The foster care staff at Hoyleton were specialized case workers who utilized relationships with other agencies to ensure Ariana had all the necessary medical equipment to be home with her foster parents in a safe environment. She received specialized bedding and a wheelchair, and case workers guided Nicole and Nick through financial services and other necessary paperwork.

Cortney Walker, the Hoyleton Staff Nurse, provided feedback and talked through several scenarios with Nicole during difficult situations. Cortney’s knowledge of specialized services and her caring attitude were a comfort to Nicole. She became a medical advocate for the family and provided resources to make certain Nicole and Nick had the techniques, medication and equipment they needed to manage Ariana’s health. According to Nicole, “Cortney became my sounding board for feedback and helped through some trying times.”

With the support of Hoyleton Youth and Family Services, Nicole and Nick gave Ariana a fuller life. After three days of being home with them, Ariana showed emotion for the first time in their care. Whether a smile, frown or tear, they knew in their hearts there was a purpose to making a difference in Ariana’s life. She was formally adopted on January 9, 2020, and became a part of their blended family. The Noltes didn't stop there; they recently adopted Ariana’s three siblings and became a family of eight. Three of the six children have a passion to help others and aspire to pursue careers in social work.

Hoyleton is truly blessed to have families like the Noltes who have a passion to help others. To learn more about our foster care program, visit

Hoyleton | It Takes a Village

In Phylicia’s last blog, she discussed how it takes a village, and in this piece, she will explore that village a little more. 

When a child comes into care, the investigator works with the parents to find family members to take the child. Placing a child with a family member is done to help make the transition easier for the child; however, when the family is not an option for placement, the investigator moves to place the child in a traditional foster care home. A foster family is a non-relative home that takes the child but has also gone through training to help them understand the trauma that a child goes through from being removed from their parents. 

Becoming a foster parent is not an easy decision. Some parts of being a foster parent are easy. To love a child that needs love and care is easy. Making sure they are fed and clothed is easy. However, reality sets in, and the honeymoon is over because your child has been through trauma, possibly neglect and abuse. Children that come into foster care come into care with different levels of trauma. That is why we encourage our relative foster parents to become licensed because it gives our families the opportunities to understand the trauma that our kids face and that sometimes the children who need the most love will push us away the most. 

The process seems much more daunting than it is. A lot of the work that it takes to become licensed started when you brought the child into your home. What seemed like a daunting task at first, starts to diminish once you begin moving the ball. By now, you have the support of your caseworker and the licensing worker. They will help guide you through the process. During the licensing process, we at the agency level know that this can be a complicated process, it can seem intrusive, and like we are questioning your means, but we are not. We ask these questions and work toward licensing a home from a place of protection for the child. The children have already been through so much that we don’t want the stress of helping your cause more undue harm. Your acts of getting licensed are helping to build a moment in time that provides this child with some stability and safety when those things seem so far from reach for them. 

It takes a village, each child is unique and different, and a child who finds themselves in care gives them a little added uniqueness. When you find yourself talking yourself out of getting licensed, remember you have a village to support you, and your village starts with Hoyleton. 

Foster Care| Foster Care Beyond COVID-19

Foster Care| Foster Care Beyond COVID-19

As the country slowly begins the phase-in process, our community leaders and social service advocates have been concerned about the well-being of our nation’s children. During the shelter-in-place order, with school and daycare center closings, the number of calls reporting child abuse dropped drastically. With fewer calls being reported to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) hotline, this meant children’s safety is at an increased risk at a time when families are under emotional, physical, and financial stress. As an advocate for our communities’ families, Hoyleton staff members worked tirelessly to provide needed support to our foster and biological families. I had an opportunity to connect with Becky Woolever, Child Welfare Manager, regarding the way forward as Hoyleton moves into the next phase of our new normal.

As Illinois begins the phase-in process, what will these changes mean for Hoyleton’s social workers as they care for families?

Hoyleton is taking a very proactive approach to how we provide care to our families. While DCFS has provided some guidelines, we seek to establish safe methods for our social workers to get back into the field. Our phase-in plan breaks our social workers into teams, with each team coming into the office on different days. We are still encouraging working remotely, but with the proper precautions (PPE, social distancing, and temperature checks before entering the office), our staff can move ahead in processing required documents to place youth into caring homes.

Also, we have transitioned social workers into doing in-home visits. Before meeting, we will call and ask questions pertaining to COVID-19 to verify if individuals within the home are well. Social workers will wear PPE and can bring additional PPE for clients. The Foster Care Department prioritized the families we consider high-risk to minimize the chances of abuse. In mid-June, we started visiting the homes of unlicensed foster homes (relative care), specialized care (behavioral), and aftercare (children in the care of biological parents). Starting in July, we will see every child in the home at least once a month, except for our medically high-risk youth. Medically high-risk youth will be seen weekly via a phone or video conference. This is done to minimize the risk of infection for this group of youth.

There is a real concern abuse has not declined but is underreported. How is Hoyleton prepared to address the increase in child abuse cases when communities begin to reopen?

Hoyleton continues to hire and train new staff to prepare for the influx of potential new cases. We also push for reunification and permanency through adoption/ guardianship. The Foster care Department is actively recruiting individuals to become foster parents. During the shelter-in-place order, we continued to receive referrals via word-of-mouth from other foster parents. Our social workers also work as brand ambassadors for Hoyleton by speaking about our mission and wearing clothing that promotes our organization.

We currently have several prospective foster parents who are utilizing our online training classes. DCFS is providing training on COVID-19, as well as PRIDE training for potential foster parents to receive their license. And once we are cleared, Hoyleton will provide in-class TCI and CARE training for foster parents. 

How will Hoyleton be a part of helping families move forward? And what resources will Hoyleton provide families as we transition into a “new normal”? 

Our Grant Department and the programs within Hoyleton allow us to share needed resources with our clients without going outside the agency. Clients made use of essential programs like Counseling Care and the Wraparound program. The use of COVID-19 specific grants helped biological and foster parents receive needed supplies like food, diapers, cleaning products, and more. 

What takeaway would you like our readers to know?

As the number of reported cases of abuse rise, I want individuals to know that our communities’ children need you. Hoyleton is here with resources to help potential foster parents. We are aware that bringing a youth into your home during a pandemic can be scary, but these children need a safe place to call home. Hoyleton is here to make sure all parties involved are as safe as possible. As we find our new normal, we need to remember we are all in this together. 

For more information on becoming a foster parent, please visit our website at, or call at 618.688.4727. Together, we make a difference in a child’s life. 

#HoyletonCares, #Hoyleton, #WeAreAllInThisTogether, #FosterCare, #FosterCareParent

Foster Care | Daniel Waters

As May draws to a close, we want to thank the individuals who open their hearts and homes to our communities’ youth. Choosing to foster a child is an important decision, and taking the next step can seem overwhelming. However, foster parents are a welcomed shelter from the storm and provide a safe place for a child who needs stability and love, while family issues are being resolved. 

In honor of National Foster Care Month, I had a chance to speak with Mr. Daniel Waters about the importance of foster care and its impact on the lives of children and their biological families.

How many years have you been a foster parent, and how many children have you fostered/adopted?

I have been a foster parent for four years. Throughout that time, I have fostered four children. My first foster care placement led to the subsequent adoption of my daughter, age 14. I have fostered my daughter’s brother and two other children from different families. 

What experience or who encouraged you to become a foster parent?

There was not a time I can remember that I didn’t want to foster. Being a dad is one of the best things I have ever done or experienced, and that was my motivation to be a foster parent. I was not scared of parenting and fostering children. I was already a single dad with two kids. My daughter was 11 or 12 at the time, and my son was 14 years old. The nervousness came in regards to adding another child to the family and changing the family dynamics. Fostering became a reality when I was in a financial position and had the room to take that next step. Once we purchased the home we currently live in, we had space and it felt was the right time. 

Did you realize how much fostering a child would change the family dynamics, especially when dealing with a child that has experienced trauma? 

Honestly, it was rough at first. My adoptive daughter experienced trauma and had a difficult time processing the hurt and anger. However, the longer she was with us, the longer the periods between outbursts until those moments became distant memories. 

I would say adjusting was hardest for my son. He was a teenager at the time and looking to assert his independence. My biological daughter and adoptive daughter are one year apart. They interact with one another as you would expect any siblings to act, best friends one minute, and disagree the next. The girls have been with each other for four years now, so they are familiar with each other personalities and now when to walk away and let it go. 

You have a busy home. How do you juggle it all without family support? 

I have close friends who lend a hand when needed. It also helps that my work is flexible. I can make and meet the necessary appointments for my children without any problems. Also, I have teenagers in the home, and everyone is willing to pitch in and help out.  Hoyleton has also provided resources like the Counseling Care department when needed.

What is the reality of fostering?

First, there has to be a willingness to take in someone, love them unconditionally, and then say good-bye when the time comes, which is difficult. Next comes the training. And this is where I don’t feel people take fostering seriously. The negative realities of fostering shown in the training videos regarding the trauma these youth endure, coupled with the end goal of reunification, is glossed over by some potential foster parents. Fostering is not about building your family, but supporting a family when they are in need. I think some individuals miss that point. Fostering is not a Hollywood movie. When a family does take in a child with trauma, and things become hard reality hits. 

How do you handle loving a child through the trauma they have suffered and protecting yourself, especially when it is time for a child to be reunified with their family?  

My defense against that feeling is to work closely with my foster children’s families. I have been lucky that the biological families I work with have been open to having this type of relationship. I have not dealt with fostering a child and then not seeing them again once they are reunified with their family. In fact, my former foster son has been living with us since the shelter-in-place order. My now adoptive daughter regularly communicates with her mother and even visits with her biological siblings. As for the baby of our family, I am in contact with his uncle and send pictures. 

For me, I don’t want to take any part of my foster children’s identity or leave them without the ability to reach back when they are older and connect with their biological families. I try to remember that whatever brought my foster children in care now, might not be the same when they are older. A person can never have enough people in their life who care about you. I try my best to make sure both the parent and child know I am available when the child does go back home. I am here if the family needs help. 

What is one of your favorite memories regarding your foster children? 

My favorite memory is when my daughter first arrived. She was around ten years old at the time and, for some reason, could not remember my name, which is Dan. So for one and a half weeks, she called me Mr. Nice Guy. For the older ones, I let them know they can call me Dan or you can call me whatever makes you comfortable. My daughter quickly started calling me, dad. My foster son calls me Dan. Good memories either way. 

What practical advice would you give individuals who want to become foster parents?

It is going to be hard but stick with it. Once a child is in your home, you have to see them as family, and I don’t give up on family. However rough it becomes, let the child know you are in their corner. They need to hear and know that from you. 

I want to thank Mr. Waters for sharing his foster care story. With over 400,000 children in care in the United States, the need for foster parents is more important than ever. However, interested individuals will not be making this journey alone. Committing to raise a child and partner with a family in need is how we build a brighter future for our communities’ children and grow together. Hoyleton is here to help individuals on their path to foster care with understanding eligibility requirements, training, licensing process, counseling, and other services. For more information on Foster Care and taking the next step, call the Foster Care Department at 618.688.4727.

#NationalFosterCareMonth  #HoyletonCares #FosterKidsNeedAHero  #FosterCare #FosterParents

National Poison Prevention Week March 26, 2020

National Poison Prevention Week raises awareness of poison prevention nationwide during the third full week of March every year. During this week, we have an opportunity to highlight the dangers of poisonings and help with prevention for people of all ages and promote community involvement in poisoning prevention and ways to prevent tragedies.

Hoyleton is helping individuals stay aware of the dangers that are in and around them every day. At Hoyleton, we continually work to support and educate individuals and the community on the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse. As a foster care agency, we also want to support our parents and caregivers by keeping them informed of ongoing changes to licensing standards and requirements which will also help during a crisis. So we are providing tips and tools to help keep you informed. 

FACT: As drug abuse problems rise in our communities, it's become as important as ever to safely and responsibly dispose of unused prescription medications.

• Medication that is no longer in use or is expired needs to be disposed of properly.

FACT: More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and streams across the United States and around the world.

• Do not flush outdated or unused medicines. 

• Deterra System Bags dissolve unused and expired medications and promote proper disposal.

• Hoyleton offers Deterra System Bags free and can be picked up at our office. We can also help your school, church, or organization to distribute the Deterra System bags free of charge.

FACT: A poison is anything that can harm someone if it is: used in the wrong way, used by the wrong person, or used in the wrong amount.

• Post the National Poison Control number which is 800-222-1222.

• Post emergency phone numbers in easy to find places and an area that is easy to access in a crisis.

• We know that the refrigerator is probably one of the places phone numbers are generally posted, however, with cell phones these days, 911 is the fastest and easiest for children to learn. 

• Also, consider posting numbers on a mirror in the bathroom or in bedrooms.

FACT: Emergency preparedness is crucial. Part of being prepared is communicating the plans your family has created. 

If you are a foster parent or a caregiver of a foster child, the licensing standards are evolving. To help keep you in compliance and in-the-know, the new requirements to meet the Family First Prevention Services Act will require that essential phone numbers such as Poison Control, 911, and even local emergency numbers are clearly posted and accessible to everyone. In addition, you will need to have a First Aid Kit and a fire extinguisher in the home and accessible where they may be needed most. For example, the fire extinguisher should be available in the kitchen, in an easy to locate and reach space.

If you have questions about licensing standards for foster parents and caregivers, or if you need a Deterra Bags for medication disposal, contact Hoyleton Youth and Family Service at 618-688-4727.  You may also email Yvonne Petito directly at  

Counseling Care | Helping Foster Families Find Balance During Stressful Times

As Illinois families enter their first week of self-isolation, the need for finding balance during periods of uncertainty is crucial for a family’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. New information and the introduction of policies and procedures at the state and federal level leave individuals bombarded by information overload, but also anxious regarding the full impact of COVID-19 on their families and in their communities.

The well-being of our families is of our utmost concern and the Counseling Care team is here to help. The key to good mental health during this period of isolation is to properly manage stress, both as individuals and as a family unit. It is common for foster children to have suffered trauma. Caregivers need to be mindful and be prepared to ease fears and help the child work through the episode. Parents can help ease fears and limit triggers by using age-appropriate language to discuss COVID-19 and how it is impacting their community. Let the youth know they are safe, and this moment in time will eventually pass.

Caregivers should be mindful that during this time youth can express fear or react to stress in different ways:

During this time the Counseling and Care team is available for consultation both in-person and over the phone. Hoyleton’s therapists and counselors are here to help families find creative solutions to behaviors and promote mental well-being for all. With the proper tools and support, families can thrive during stressful times. For more information on services provided at this time, please visit us online at call the Counseling and Care team at 618.688.4744.

Maintaining Your Mental Health and Well-Being During Isolation

Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020 March 14). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Retrieved from:

World Health Organization (2020 March 12). Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak. Retrieved from:

Mentoring: Balance and Opportunity

"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves." -Steven Spielberg

As individuals say good-bye to 2019, and usher in 2020, we are provided with an opportunity to embrace new challenges. The idea of One Word defining an individual's focus allows them to center their time, energy, and mind on one thing. By doing so, an individual's one word grounds them and provides a lens through which to see their life moving forward. Words like present, connection, enough, share, gather and nourish take on a more significant meaning not only in our life but in the lives of those we encounter. As you ponder your one word, may I suggest the idea of tethering your word to the action of mentoring? Hoyleton Youth and Family Services provides an excellent opportunity to mentor or volunteer with youth in our community. 

January is a national mentoring month when the emphasis is on communities working together to increase the number of individuals mentoring in different ways, particularly our youth. Hoyleton Youth and Family Services consist of a team of dedicated staff serving youth within the foster care system. For over 16,904 children in the Illinois foster care system, there is an increasing need to locate adults in the crucial transition period from adolescence to young adulthood to provide support systems.1 

Mentors are needed to focus on supporting the entire individual, not just skill development, by aiding youth in navigating the choices and opportunities presented in life. For kids outside of foster care, they have support systems comprised of parents, extended family members, coaches, and other mature adults. These adults speak into their lives and help the youth maneuver through adolescence. Young people in foster care often lack what is called social scaffolding, or the process where adults guide young people in fostering relationships and supporting networks. Recall for yourself the person who talked to you about college and professional opportunities, finance, spiritual well-being, social currency, and life skills in general. Now stop, who would you be without the individual who shared their wisdom with you? The experience you have acquired has helped you avoid expensive mistakes. Or they have encouraged you to take advantage of opportunities that you have not otherwise known were available.

As youth navigate the foster care system, many will experience multiple placements while in care. Some children will "age out" of care, never having achieved permanency. Having a positive adult role model, through mentoring, sets youth up for success into adulthood. The positive relationship between mentor and mentee creates new working models of healthy relationship experiences and helps youth to be resilient. The more positive a youth's interactions are in a stable relationship with a mentor, the more likely a young person can handle adversity. Having a good relationship with a mentor helps a young person to be exposed to different viewpoints and experiences and to gain a better understanding of life skills.

There are both mentoring and volunteer positions throughout the Hoyleton community. We have youth who could benefit from a mentor/mentee relationship in our therapeutic residential care, transitional living program, and older foster youth in our Independent Living Program (ILP). Volunteers are also welcome to help in administrative roles, special events planning, and life skills instructor for youth in care. Are you interested in finding out where you fit in at Hoyleton? Individuals can contact Meghan Murphy, Development Department, at 618.688.7092 to discuss further opportunities to help our youth live their best life yet.


1Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. (December 11, 2019). Monthly Reports "Number of Children In Foster Care by County and Placement." Retrieved from 

Check out this great video as well:

Therapeutic Residential Home | Caring for Hoyleton's Youth

“Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong,
and laughter never ends.”

What makes a house a home? Is it the structure—a roof, four walls, windows, and a door? Or, is it the individuals who live within those walls creating memories together, and sharing the messiness and memories of life? The reality is that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Individuals make a house a home by living in it and creating shared experiences that are uniquely theirs. However, a house by nature evokes feelings of security, stability, belonging, and permanency. Hoyleton is seeking to provide an authentic picture of home, for the youth in our care, through our new Therapeutic Residential Home

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Belleville, Illinois, the five-bedroom Therapeutic Residential Home will provide youth ages 9-18 a pathway for transitioning from residential living to a traditional foster care home or returning home. Hoyleton aims to prepare a child for success in making this transition once they have achieved the life skills, which made institutional care necessary. While Hoyleton’s institutional care facilities are set-up like a home, the environment is structured. In residential care, youth attend Hoyleton’s private school and enjoy activities with their housemates in a group setting. In contrast, in the Therapeutic Residential Home, youth will attend school in the community and have greater exposure to traditional family structure and interactions. This transitional step paves the way for youth to have the tools necessary to thrive in life beyond Hoyleton. 

The concept of the Residential Therapeutic Home is coming into focus as Hoyleton moves into phase one—demolition. By partnering with Neighbors for Renewal, an all-volunteer local nonprofit that rehabs homes, Hoyleton can keep costs modest. With a completion date set for April or May 2020, there is much to do. The rehabbing of the newly acquired home will require volunteers interested in construction, painting, plumbing, and more. If this is a community project you would be interested in being a part of, please call Alice Drobisch at 618.688.7094. The sentiment is true: many hands make for light work.