Hoyleton Parents Provide Security and Care for Adopted Grandchildren
Sheryl and James are the grandparents of eight children. They were introduced to Hoyleton when their grandchildren’s mother abandoned them, and they were put into DCFS custody.
Sheryl and James immediately acted and worked closely with Becky Depping, the Hoyleton Foster Care Case Worker, and Becky Rhoden, the Child Welfare Manager, to keep the kids together and provide them with a safe and loving environment to call home.
Seven of the eight children have been adopted by, or have legal guardianship by, members of their family. One child has been adopted by a Hoyleton non-relative foster home, but they remain close with the family.
Sheryl and James have adopted two of their grandkids, 13-year-old Jayce and three-year-old Nevaeh. They also have guardianship of their 15-year-old grandson Cole.
After the adoption proceedings, Sheryl’s son Jayce said, “Finally, I feel secure now!” She is so happy knowing she provided him with that security. Jayce felt so secure in his new home environment that he decided to change his middle name so he could share a name with his grandfather James.
Seven-year-old Draven was adopted a few years ago by Sheryl’s niece, who was struggling with fertility. He was a very welcome addition to their family.
The whole family works hard to keep all the kids connected through family gatherings, phone calls, photos and texts.
Becky, the Child Welfare Manager, said, “This is a very loving family that is always willing to step up when asked to care for their grandkids.”
They are a typical busy family. Navaeh, who is deaf, just started school at the Illinois Institute for the Deaf in Jacksonville, IL. Jayce and Cole are avid bowlers, and they both recently medaled in the Special Olympics bowling competition. They are now looking forward to the state bowling tournament coming up in December. They will get to travel to Peoria to compete. There will be a quarter auction in their hometown to raise money for their travel expenses.
When they aren’t bowling, the boys like to play video games and basketball. Becky, who continues to work closely with the family, said, “Sheryl somehow keeps all the medical appointments straight and is a great advocate for their needs.”
“Things can be difficult at times, but you just have to be patient and listen to the children and allow them to respond to you when they feel comfortable,” said Sheryl. She recently taught one of the boys to sew and make things, which gave him the feeling of being needed.
“I could not ask for more committed and caring relative foster parents,” Becky said.
For more information on our adoption services, visit https://hoyleton.org/programs/foster-care-placement/permanency-services/
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 https://hoyleton.org/programs/foster-care-placement/
Inclusion and Equity for In-Care Youth
In July of 2018, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services obtained a contract through Illinois’ DCFS for the Wraparound program. Part of the contracted agreement is to host monthly support groups for in-care LGBTQ youth and provide a safe space to learn, mature, and safely be themselves. With the greater part of our mission to empower people to live the life God intended them to live, this is a natural fit for our organization.
The monthly support group is maintained and facilitated by Williams and Associates, a non-profit organization based in St. Louis, MO. Williams and Assoc., according to their website, is an organization delivering programs and services such as health education, HIV/STI prevention, violence prevention, and sensitivity to the LGBTQ+ community. Williams and Assoc. contracts independent facilitators to conduct and lead the monthly support group hosted through Hoyleton.
Haili Loftin, a Service Coordinator for FORWARD Counseling Care, here at Hoyleton, facilitates communication between in-care youth, their caseworkers, and Antwan Chambers, the current group facilitator. While the group is sponsored by Williams and Associates, it is Antwan who connects with youth on a more personal level.
Antwan, a school-based social worker, and a former middle school and high school history teacher, has a passion for helping teens discover who they are and supporting them in their journey. Antwan finds he is fulfilling his personal passion by sharing and empowering these teens others to find themselves. When asked why he changed directions in his career, he states he started to realize education is not the sole contributor to the success of a youth or young person. He realized change starts at home and within the environment of the youth and education is only a component of success. As a social worker, he gets to be a larger part of a solution for today’s youth and the struggles they face, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ Support group participants fluctuate between 10 to 19 individuals at each meeting. There are only two other organizations that currently participate. It is Antwan’s hope this number grows and awareness starts to spread as restrictions due to COVID start to relax. Currently, this program, hosted by Hoyleton, is the only program of its kind for in-care youth within the state of Illinois.
The monthly group is more than a safe space for youth to engage with one another. Each meeting has a purpose and is designed to provide tools and skills to transition from adolescence to adulthood. Topics are frequently geared around life skills such as managing finances, leadership skills, self-care, responsible sexual health, and others. Participants are always encouraged to ask questions and given the opportunity to guide topics to subjects relevant to current life situations. While the meetings are designed to provide LGBTQ youth-in-care a safe space, it is also open to allies of these young people as well. It is not uncommon for a youth’s caseworker to attend for moral support.
It is important to note, facilitators and caseworkers do not guide youth as to how they should feel or identify. Facilitators encourage youth to speak to a trusted adult or mentor, who is not a family member, concerning guidance in questioning their sexuality or gender identity.
Meetings are reserved for in-care youth referred through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. It is a hope that eventually opportunity will evolve into a broader audience and also spark additional, yet separate, groups to include adults.
As an organization that promotes, diversity, inclusion, equity, and education, Hoyleton is excited for the opportunities to host these meetings and provide safe spaces for tomorrow’s emerging adults. If you would like to partner with us in providing a safe, secure, and welcoming environment to hold future gatherings for our group, please reach out to Haili Loftin at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us directly at 618.688.4727.
Community Mental Health Care that Reaches All
In 2020, we established a specific program to reach out to those in our community that are in need of mental health care. Here at Hoyleton, we explored the need and importance of access to qualified mental health professionals within the Southern Illinois community. It was with the information gathered and understanding, a community resource for mental health care access was essential and the FORWARD Counseling Care by Hoyleton initiative was established.
Services provided by FORWARD are for children, adults, couples, groups, school districts, community outreach, and businesses which would like to offer employees a safe space to seek healthy mental health care.
FORWARD Counseling Care is comprised of several services that fall under different funding sources. Programs are funded by multiple sources including the State of Illinois, private grants, and private funding. Some of Hoyleton’s traditional services now encompassed by FORWARD continue to include:
School-based Partnership Programs, primarily in the East St. Louis School district
The Wraparound Program sponsored by DCFS
The Victims of Crime Act
Southern Illinois Violence Prevention Program
Mental Health First Aid
Three new evidence-based practices are now being offered; Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, and the Nurturing Parent Program. All programs managed by FORWARD are built on the model of healing oneself from a holistic approach.
Our highly trained therapists want to help you be the best you, that God has intended you to be.
If you, or a loved one are uncertain where to get qualified mental health care, reach out to a FORWARD team member today at 618.688.7040. When you reach out, you will receive a call from a member of the FORWARD staff within 24-48 hours.
Learn more about the FORWARD by Hoyleton program at forwardbyhoyleton.org. To best serve the community, our website is available for both our English and LatinX speaking friends.
Hoyleton | Setting the Stage for a Successful Life Story
Setting the Standard for an Outstanding Adulthood
Imagine a young man or woman approaching adulthood. This transition is a time that should be filled with excitement and opportunity as they look toward their future and independence. However, those who have spent part of their teenage years in foster care also struggle with relationship building, family planning, and finding future stability.
When Youth Villages made the realization back in 1999, they then launched LifeSet. This groundbreaking and innovative program helps change young men and women's lives in exiting foster care.
Expanding on support programs
In 2019, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services explored new ways and innovative approaches to delivering care to older foster care youth. We had a strong program, called Emerging Adults. This program included opportunities for both community and independent living. At the same time, the youth acquired essential life skills, "says Brice Bloom-Ellis, Chief Program Officer." "LifeSet was an opportunity for us to improve our program, continue to assist youth in development and growth, while we support and prepare them for adulthood."
Hoyleton launched LifeSet in southern Illinois as a pilot program through a grant awarded from Youth Villages and DCFS and was a natural extension of the Emerging Adults Care program.
Building a foundation for success
Youth are referred to the program by DCFS. Hoyleton's LifeSet team completes an assessment to verify that the youth is a good fit for the program, making it possible for a youth to have the best outcome. Then they enter the program, getting paired with a case specialist trained in navigating early adulthood complexities.
Youth and case specialists meet weekly at the youth's choice; face-to-face meetings are encouraged when possible. However, throughout COVID, video conferencing is utilized. Through experiential learning, the case specialist helps them set achievable goals around housing, transportation, education, employment, health, and relationships.
A unique approach to accomplish goals
The unique part that distinguishes LifeSet from similar programs is that the youth maps their path and decides for themselves the primary focus areas. The specialist provides guidelines and recommendations that the youth must meet. Still, there is more freedom for the youth to determine what is most important to them. A shorter, one-month, focused objective approach is used by LifeSet to set a plan. Young people say shorter aim times make them feel like their goal is achievable.
For each youth, the focused area is different. Some may be working towards a GED or preparing for college. Some want to find jobs, while others want to learn how to get quality housing, communicate with landlords, or take care of their new home.
Supporting Southern Illinois communities
"Hoyleton is proud to be the only organization to introduce the LifeSet program in southern Illinois," says Brice. "We are continually evolving and looking at new approaches to providing care. And we believe that we are in the best position to bridge this difficult period for young adults between group living treatment and independent living. Hoyleton and LifeSet are preparing young people for adulthood by walking alongside them and ensuring that they have the skills needed to thrive and experience success once they are out of care."
To learn more about LifeSet at Hoyleton and how you can help young adults in our communities, please visit us at https://hoyleton.org