Jenny was an infant the first time she entered foster care, spending a few months with her paternal Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca. When Jenny was 6 years old, she lost her father to a drug overdose, and subsequently, lost contact with the paternal side of her family.
She re-entered care earlier this year as an 11-year-old. That day, her case was assigned to a Kinnect family specialist from the 30 Days to Family® Ohio program. The specialist immediately began searching for Jenny’s family, and within three days, located Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca. Even though Jenny didn’t have access to her dad’s side of the family after her father’s overdose, Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca saved photos of Jenny, kept an eye on her through social media and were excited to welcome Jenny into their home.
The 30 Days to Family® team interviewed Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca and conducted a thorough home study before approving a weekend visit for Jenny.
During Jenny’s weekend with Bobby and Rebecca, Jenny’s adult sister and several aunts and uncles came to visit her, and her best friend spent the night. The family specialist was happy to see the way these other family members were wrapping around Jenny during this difficult change, and that Bobby and Rebecca were supporting her to maintain relationships that are important to her. After the weekend, Kinnect’s team agreed it was in Jenny’s best interest to be placed with Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca.
The day of Jenny’s move, the family specialist picked up Jenny from her foster home. Jenny chatted excitedly during the hour-long drive.
“As soon as we pulled into the driveway, 11-year-old Jenny blew past me and let herself in through the front door, dropped her bag, kicked off her shoes and ran to the kitchen,” the family specialist shares. “I’ve taken a lot of kids to foster homes for placement, and none of them act the way she did. You could tell she felt comfortable, you could tell she felt safe and you could tell it was familiar.”
Once in the kitchen, Jenny dipped her hand into the family’s cookie jar. The specialist wondered how Bobby and Rebecca would react.
Normally, when children are brought to a new home, they’re scared. They stick close to the caseworker and would never help themselves to food — many don’t even speak up if they are hungry. But Jenny stood at the counter happily snacking on a chocolate chip cookie. When Aunt Rebecca entered the kitchen, she told Jenny she is welcome to have as many cookies as she would like. It was clear: Jenny had found a loving home with family.
Kinnect’s 30 Days to Family® Ohio is designed to increase the number of children placed with relatives when they enter the foster care system. Children who are victims of abuse and neglect do better when they stay connected with their community and culture.
Editor’s Note: Kinnect Ohio is one of 36 nonprofits participating in Cleveland’s first-ever citywide Giving Tuesday campaign — brought to you by WISH Cleveland. All names have been changed to respect client confidentiality. Find out how you can donate, sponsor and/or participate in this cause, which seeks to create a more equitable future in our city, here.