Learn More About Foster Care. Set Up a Virtual Meeting With Us on Your Schedule.

Virtual meetings have made life more convenient for everyone involved. Our Therapeutic Foster Care team utilizes them often, from trainings to meetings with foster parents.

Sometimes, though, life gets in the way of those types of meetings, too. Schedules fill up. Emergencies happen.

That’s why our team is offering virtual informational meetings via Zoom that fit your schedule. You pick the day and time, and we’ll meet you online.

RELATED CONTENT: Our Foster Care Services are Still Here for You During COVID-19. Here’s How We’re Doing It.

Our Therapeutic Foster Care team is offering informational virtual meetings for anyone who might be interested in becoming a foster parent.

How our virtual meetings work

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, we offer informational meetings. But they don’t happen sporadically. They happen whenever you want them to happen, and the 1-on-1 environment allows prospective parents to ask more personal questions that might not be comfortable in a group setting.

Trainings have historically been set up one time monthly, but this allows the foster care team to do an informational meeting for a shorter time commitment. Then, prospective foster parents can determine if they are ready to take the next step to begin the training process.

“It allows me to individualize training when necessary,” said Lynn Farmer, Community Outreach Development Specialist. “For example, we still do pre-service trainings on Saturdays even virtually. However, occasionally Saturday doesn’t work around work schedules. Virtual training allows me to meet the prospective parent on their timeline.”

The 30-minute informational sessions cover the basic requirements to become a foster parent, the required training, the placement process and more. Prospective parents can ask questions at the end of the meetings.

Those advantages complement the convenience that virtual meetings provide.

RELATED CONTENT: COVID-19 Resources for Your Foster Home

What parents are saying

Here’s a sampling of what our current foster parents say about the 1-on-1 virtual meetings:

“Less interruptions of the speaker.”

“It allows you to still engage but at the convenience of your everyday life. I think that it is very beneficial with taking care of so many other things because it gives you more time for other stuff like 1-on-1 with kids.”

“I have my own time to focus and really zone in to what I’m learning. I’m not worrying about the kids because I am home.”

“Questions of others. Time for explanation.”

“You still get the same information as if you were face to face.”

“You’re more at ease when taking in information.”

“Well, with the virus going around, I feel safe in my home.”

How you can register for a virtual meeting

Would you like to schedule your own 1-on-1 virtual meeting to learn more about becoming a foster parent? Call 317-893-0207 or email Lynn Farmer. Once you’ve settled on a meeting date and time, we’ll send you a link via email to join the meeting.

RELATED CONTENT: Not Sure About Becoming a Foster Parent? Here’s 6 Reasons You Should

Our Foster Care Services are Still Here for You During COVID-19. Here’s How We’re Doing It.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, it turned our lives upside down. Fortunately, our Therapeutic Foster Care team adjusted so the foster care services they offer won’t suffer.

From virtual meetings to more flexible training, the team maintained services, and improved them in some instances.

“We have the ability to be more flexible with our trainings as they are able to be offered virtually,” said Julie Stewart, Adult & Child Health’s Director of Child Welfare Services. “This has given us the opportunity to review our training schedule and see where we might be able to make some additions and/or adjustments with trainings that are being offered.”

Here’s a look at the services that remain available, some new resources and how the team changed some foster care services:

RELATED CONTENT: COVID-19 Resources for Your Foster Home

Foster care services virtual meetings

“We continue to provide our full spectrum of services,” said Lynn Farmer, Community Outreach Development Specialist. “From licensing new homes, to maintaining certification/license, to providing the clinical/support services determined necessary.”

Lynn Farmer

The virtual trainings will be more convenient for foster families, even in a post-COVID world.

“We are offering more trainings online, making it easier for parents to attend,” Farmer said. “We have also started offering an online version of CPR/First Aid (pictured above). This allows parents to take the classroom portion of the training online, and then they only need to be tested on the physical maneuvers (chest compressions).”

Virtual training and service provision is new to most, but it offered unforeseen benefits, according to at least one Therapeutic Foster Care team member. Dakota Reynolds, Therapeutic Care Specialist, said some youth and parents could focus more during the sessions together. She also enjoyed sharing a more personal side of herself with clients by introducing them to the pets she has in her home.

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What’s new?

The team recently set up a virtual support group for foster parents. They offer the meetings multiple times during the day to try to gauge what fits best into people’s schedules.

Therapeutic Foster Care also can allow foster parents to assist directly with virtual supervised visitations with biological family members. That assists in building bridges for youth.

“Having the opportunity to provide services virtually has allowed us to figure out creative ways to make connections that might otherwise be difficult due to scheduling/location of siblings and/or biological families,” Stewart said.

In addition, the foster care services licensing process has become more virtual out of necessity. “We have the ability to send forms electronically and can also drop off/pick up paperwork through ‘no contact’ methods,” Stewart said.

COVID-19 specific foster care services resources

In addition to this one-stop shop of resources, the team offered this frequently asked questions list for foster parents to utilize. Among the examples:

Q:What if someone in the household has a fever? If they have no known connection to the coronavirus, is a fever alone enough to stop visits?

A. You should notify Adult & Child Health and the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) immediately. Any individual with a fever should be treated as if they are potentially positive for COVID-19, and quarantined until fever-free for 48 hours. Continuously monitor the person’s condition. If symptoms worsen, seek medical assistance as previously outlined.

Stewart said the team will treat COVID-19 cases in foster homes on a case-by-case basis.

“We are working with our foster parents to help them come up with individualized plans about how to help them in this case,” she said.  “For example, if a foster parent contracts the virus and becomes too ill to care for the child, we work with them to develop a child care plan to ensure that the youth’s need will continue to be met.”

Whether a family member contracts COVID-19 or not, Farmer emphasized self-care during the current stressful environment.

“As the stressors mount, from isolation, home schooling, work/financial pressures, it is imperative that foster parents take care of themselves,” he said. “We recently started a virtual support group that meets at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. every other Tuesday.”

Want to learn more about becoming foster parent through our Therapeutic Foster Care program? Learn the basics, call 317-893-0207 or email Lynn Farmer.

 

 

 

COVID-19 Resources for Your Foster Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of society in myriad ways, and foster homes are no exception.

Our Therapeutic Foster Care team hasn’t stopped working during this pandemic. It’s available as much as ever through Telehealth appointments and website resources.

In the meantime, our team wants to share plenty of other resources you can utilize in your foster home to get through the pandemic.

RELATED CONTENT: WATCH: A&C Foster Care Parent Shares Her Experience

Adult & Child Health foster home guidelines

Our team has devised this list of guidelines for foster parents to follow during the pandemic. As usual, our team is available to answer your questions. Please call 317-893-0207 or email Lynn Farmer, our Community Outreach Development Specialist, at .

Government resources

 

 

WATCH: A&C Foster Care Parent Shares her Experience

Rosemary Reid has been a foster parent for 15 years. She estimates she’s provided foster care for about 25 children during that time.

Amanda Orr, A&C Licensing Team Leader, has worked with Rosemary every step of the way. Orr and A&C offer Reid and other foster parents with training opportunities, licensing for new foster parents and a bevy of other resources.

RELATED CONTENT: Not Sure About Becoming a Foster Parent? Here’s 6 Reasons you Should

Watch the video below as Reid and Orr share their stories about why the foster parenting experience is so special for everyone involved.

Are you interested in assisting our foster efforts, either by becoming a foster parent or helping in other ways? Visit us here.

Check out more of our foster stories.

Why foster parents should attend the Every Child Symposium

Are you a licensed foster parent in Indiana? Are you in need of training credits? We have a solution for you! The Every Child Conference, set for March 14,  is a one day symposium on behalf of Indiana’s vulnerable children. They are bringing nationally recognized speakers.

The best part? Foster parents will earn 5.5 hours of credit, get lunch, and it’s only $25 if you register before Feb. 14 and $30 if you register afterward.

The details for foster parents who wish to attend

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14

Where: Eastern Star Church, 5750 30th St., Indianapolis.

Cost: Early bird (before Feb. 14), $30 general, $25 for adoptive, foster care or Safe Families; cost increases by $5 on Feb. 14.

More information: email

Who will speak?

Kristin Ballard

Ballard is a dedicated mother, wife, and philanthropist. A passionate and tireless volunteer, she regularly supports the Indiana Department of Child Services, Hands of Hope, Books For Youth, and the Indianapolis Colts Women’s Organization. A champion for children, when she’s not supporting her own family, Kristin spends time advocating for children and families in the foster care system. While Kristin and her husband, Chris, were raising their three children, they also began caring for two cousins of their family who they eventually adopted through foster care.

RELATED CONTENT: Interested in more training opportunities? Here’s our 2020 training schedule

Willie Moore Jr.

Moore is a nationally syndicated radio personality, actor, social media influencer, activist, musician, husband and father of four children. Moore has proven that innate charisma, abundant creativity, and a passion for empowerment can translate in the faith-based community and the general market. As the host of the top rated “Willie Moore Jr. Show,” Willie reaches over 1.7 million people weekly.

Outside of entertainment, Moore is an advocate for adoption and foster care. As the President of the WILFLO Foundation (named after his forever family Willie and Flora Moore,) Moore brings awareness to the adoption and foster care system. Each year, thousands of African American families sign up to be foster parents and/or adoptive parents through these efforts. Willie continues to tour the world bringing inspiration through his innovative storytelling and comedic approach to speaking and music that’s transforming lives throughout all generations.

RELATED CONTENT: See how our Youth Development Program is Helping its Participants Excel

Stephanie Fast

Fast was abandoned at a young age, she wandered the war-torn countryside of Korea. Due to her biracial ethnicity, she was abused and violated in every way. Finally, she was discarded and left to die in a garbage dump. A World Vision nurse miraculously rescued Stephanie and placed her in an orphanage.

Around the age of nine, a missionary couple came to her orphanage. Overlooking her physical and emotional state, they listened to the voice that spoke to their hearts. David & Judy Merwin, setting aside their desire to adopt a baby boy, obeyed that voice and adopted Stephanie.

Despite the lavish healing love her adoptive parents poured into her, Stephanie’s past tormented her throughout her teens. A profound personal encounter with Jesus Christ enabled her to exchange her pain with Him at the cross and see her identity and purpose in the light of God’s love. Stephanie shares this message with anyone who will listen.

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Over the past 30 years, her story and teachings have been on TV, radio, in magazines and other people’s books. She recently wrote her first book; She Is Mine. Stephanie and her husband reside in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by their children and grandchildren; her childhood dream lived out in reality.

In addition to these dynamic speakers, there are a host of others scheduled to present:

  • David Reed, Deputy Director of Child Welfare Services, Indiana Department of Child Services
  • Sue Orlosky, LBSW, has over 30 years’ experience working in the child welfare profession. These experiences include DCS Case Manager, Supervisor, RAPT Trainer, Home-Base Provider, Visitation Facilitator, Foster Care Worker, and Adoption Worker. These are just a few of the many presenters that will be present.

 

 

Foster Care Christmas Party 2019 photos

Our Therapeutic Foster Care team hosted 83 guests at its annual Holiday Party on Dec. 7.

All of the kids engaged in crafts and games. They decorated cookies, made picture frames, got their faces painted, participated in a cake walk, and played cornhole.

RELATED CONTENT: Not Sure About Becoming a Foster Parent? Here’s 6 Reasons you Should

The parents had a chance to network and get to know each other a little better. Adult & Child Health Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Yoder attended, along with Board of Directors Chair Tom Gaunt and his wife, Jeanne. Director of Child Welfare Services Julie Stewart helped make picture frames, and the rest of the elves helped with the other activities. Everyone had a great time!

Here are some photos from the party (photos courtesy of the Therapeutic Foster Care team).

Not Sure About Becoming a Foster Parent? Here’s 6 Reasons You Should

Becoming a foster parent isn’t a decision to make on a whim.

All sorts of training and licensing await parents who wish to become foster parents. They must consider how it will change their current family structure. They have to be sure it’s something they want to do.

Beyond that, folks who consider foster parenting can be apprehensive for myriad other reasons. Adult & Child Health’s Therapeutic Foster Care team frequently consults with parents and prospective parents about their concerns. One of the most common worries they hear goes something like this:

“I’m not sure my heart will be able to handle it whenever the foster child has to leave our home.”

RELATED CONTENT: See how our Youth Development Program is Helping its Participants Excel

The A&C foster care team processes 400 to 450 placement requests each month, on average. The agency operates at 98 percent capacity most of the time, which means it doesn’t have enough families to handle some requests.

We talked with Julie Stewart, Adult & Child Health’s director of welfare services, and members of the Therapeutic Foster Care team. They shared the most common questions they receive – and concerns they hear – from prospective foster parents.

Here are six reasons you shouldn’t let your fears about foster parenting dissuade you from taking the next step and becoming a foster parent:

RELATED CONTENT: Have more questions about becoming a foster parent? Click here for answers.

1. You have more control than you think.

“Most people considering this are not clear on what their role would really be,” Stewart said. “Being able to have the final say about whether or not to accept a child into their home is 100% in the hands of the foster parents. The goal of everyone involved, most importantly a youth needing placement, is to ensure there is a good match.”

The foster care team will listen to the criteria foster parents believe will be a good fit for their home, based on age and gender. Team members will then contact parents if they have a situation available that fits their desires.

2. You have resources here to help.

“You’re not doing this alone,” one TFC team member said. “You have a team behind you.” The TFC team offers a variety of resources, from free in-house training for licensing foster parents to simply a network of support. Also, A&C offers primary care, mental and behavioral health assistance, school-based support and a bevy of other resources. “We’re a one-stop shop,” another TFC team member said.

3. Think about the child’s future.

“You never know what kind of impact you’re going to have five or six years from now, but you can have an impact now,” one TFC team member said. “You’re getting something out of it, and they’re getting something out of it.”

Are you interested in becoming a foster parent? Contact our Community Outreach Development Specialist, Lynn Farmer, at 317-893-0207, ext. 1207.

4. The rewards outweigh the sadness at the end.

The feeling of losing a foster child when their allotted time is up scares parents, TFC team members said. Their response? “Understand you’re going to provide something so much bigger than how you’re going to cry when you’re going to leave. There’s never too much love. You can’t love a kid too much. Allow yourself to feel.”

Foster parent Tina Davidson added, “If your heart is broken when they leave that house, you’re the type of person who should be fostering.”

5. Where you are in life right now doesn’t matter as much as you might think.

Foster parents come in various ages and stages of life. Some are married, others are single. Some are cohabitating, some are LGBTQ. We license a wide variety of foster parents because we believe this diversity will provide the best placements for kids. We encourage and support foster parents regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender. If parents are at least 25 years old, can support themselves without public assistance, have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license, sufficient bedroom space and all household members pass background checks, they’re eligible!

6. We need you.

Our foster families are consistently at about 98 percent capacity, which means our current foster families probably don’t have the space to take on additional children. The more families that are available, the greater the likelihood we can place siblings together. When our foster family base is more diverse, we can more easily match a child’s needs to a family. The more families we have dispersed throughout our service areas, the more likely we can place children in or near their own communities and avoid disrupting positive familiar connections for the child, like schools, peers, and positive role models.

Still don’t want to become a foster parent? Consider a donation to our Therapeutic Foster Care program.

Helping Foster Kids in School: Therapeutic Foster Care’s Educational Advocate

The Problem: Statistics for foster children graduating high school are shockingly low. About 50% of foster kids never receive their high school diploma. Only 3% graduate from a 4-year college.

A&C’s response: To employ an Educational Advocate on the Therapeutic Foster Care team, addressing all educational concerns of our foster kids.

Sharon Dunlevy spends her days staying on top of students’ grades, attendance, educational concerns, and any behavioral issues they may be facing in school. She goes to meetings with teachers and principals, she helps implement and advocate for Individualized Education Plans & 504s, she teaches foster parents how to support the education of kids in their home. She tutors and facilitates tutoring.

Goals: “One of our biggest goals is to have our students be successful in school and graduate. We’re looking to see what types of support we can offer them after they graduate. At the age of 24, statistics say that 50% of former foster care students will be unemployed. So, that’s our big focus: career and college prep, really making sure that if they age out, if they leave, whatever the circumstances are, that they can be successful after school,” said Sharon. She is also a resource for foster parents with concerns on how to support their children’s education.

On what kids need most: “The need for the tutors is huge. Having a tutoring grant right now and having that outside help has been tremendous and makes a huge difference for the kids.”

Sharon’s Strategy: “I really try and get to know kids personally. … I want them to succeed, but I want them to come to that themselves. I really try to work with them on why we want them to get good grades. I ask what they want to do after school. I try to always make it a partnership between us.”

All About Youth Development

The tiny seed that grew into Youth Development was first planted in a foster care meeting. Then a therapist for Therapeutic Foster Care, Amanda Reuter had noticed an emerging pattern of foster youth asking about sex, yet lacking safe, informative spaces to discuss it. The question she asked that set her new career path in motion was, “what more can we do to help?”

“And that’s kind of where it blossomed,” said Amanda. After working on that idea and learning about the options available, A&C received a small grant to facilitate a program called ‘Pregnancy Prevention.’ In addition to her therapeutic work, Amanda began leading group meetings and engaging with adolescent-aged youth on the topic of sexual health. Through many conversations with these kids, more and different needs kept popping up & Amanda knew she wanted to address them. “Through youth expressing that there was more that they wanted, it grew,” she said. A combination of organic development and hard work was the recipe for the Youth Development team as it stands today: a group of six passionate professionals educating & advocating for youth.

On any given Friday, you can find this team circled up in their youth hangout space, brainstorming and filtering through meeting topics as a group. The newly renovated fourth floor of 603 E Washington St. houses the Youth Development and Specialty Service offices. It also includes a relaxing, living-room-type area with couches, coffee table, games, puzzles, markers, & yoga mats. Paper Mache ampersands line the windowsill and a jar of condoms marked, “Please take one” sits atop a bookshelf. Team building is important here. Each member works on their own program, but to foster a sense of togetherness, they discuss common topics and help one another solve problems. They’ll then cap it off with a group mindfulness exercise like yoga or meditation.

Youth Development works within a framework of grants, with each member responsible for only one. They’re funded through mostly federal money for different types of projects. Currently, the team has three grants: IN-PACT, Project I, and the Serve Project. These programs all have unique specifications, but employees can typically be found leading group meetings. Groups of adolescents rotate through week-to-week programs & team members also travel to schools and residential facilities to lead one-day groups. Their topics include sexual health, goal-setting, community service, etc. Any adolescent is welcome to join, and the team is enthusiastic about making sure every kid is heard, and placed in the right program at the right time. A lot of their work is focused around learning, sharing their stories, and creating projects together.

“Our overall mission is the same across all grants,” said Angel Crone, Lead Youth Development Specialist. “And that’s how we’re able to work together,” followed up Amanda. Any time this team steps in a new direction, it’s always with their mission & vision at the forefront. They make sure that their role, no matter the project, serves to help youth develop personal, social, academic, and citizenship competencies through strength-based methods. In a way, the youth always dictate where to go next. Grants and projects provide funding and structure, but at the end of the day, the team exists to help any young person become the best version of themselves. “We’re not just focused on one aspect of the youth’s lives, we’re trying to have a holistic approach,” said Angel. This mindset sometimes means stepping away from the grant structure: such as with their upcoming Art Night in June. A foster youth voiced a desire to express themselves through their art. Watching that desire echo through many other artistic teens led to a fresh, collaborative project for Youth Development & another avenue for youth to discover themselves and their self-worth.

The Youth Development team takes their role as listeners seriously. “We’ve really been challenging this concept of adultism. And just what youth led youth driven really means,” said Amanda. The concept of adultism means dismissing young people’s opinions based on their age, the classic ‘because I’m older, I know more than you.’ “We’re trying not to lead with that mindset,” said Angel. This perspective contributes to a partnership between the youth and team instead of a hierarchy. They don’t fight a losing battle with cell phones, they let kids play music that might glorify questionable morality. “We’ll play the song,” said Amanda, “but then we might use that to start a conversation about those topics and discuss what they think about them.” Group rules are reframed as ‘agreements.’ By participating, every person agrees to confidentiality, openness, and respect. This way it’s a choice, a core concept of the partnership angle.

But challenging adultism presents a new set of challenges with actual adults in the mix. “Any group we lead also has a parent component,” said Amanda. Biological parents, foster parents, and any other trusted adults in an adolescent’s life are welcomed. “It’s not the work with the kids that’s hard, it’s the work with the adults that surround them,” said Angel, laughing. But it’s true, because this team has the important role of fostering communication between those parents & teens, an eternal struggle, especially about tricky topics like sex. For foster kids with so many different adults assigned to support them, it can be challenging to navigate every adult’s opinion while simultaneously developing your own. “I think we’re trying to use our unique position of privilege and power, working in a mental health organization, to amplify the youth voice … we work with youth to identify ways that they can be their own advocate,” said Amanda.

Since the team is so young, its larger impact is still somewhat unknown. But the anecdotal support is strong. This past month brought a call from a youth who overcame suicidal tendencies through the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) and started working on new goals, a former foster child returning to help mentor teens in the “Power Through Choices” group, and a pile of handwritten Thank You cards from a group at a Bartholomew county residential facility. “Just hearing the youth say, ‘no one talks to us about this, thank you for talking about it,’” said Angel. “That’s my favorite thing to hear.”

A&C School Based Team Philosophy

The philosophy of School Based is simple: problem kids are not bad kids, they’re kids who simply need more support. This is the very sentiment Skills Development Specialist Chad Ridge tries to embody daily as he winds through the halls of Grassy Creek Elementary throwing out high fives to children passing in lines and advice to ‘make better choices’ to those working at ‘time out desks’ in the hallway.

As a Skills Development Specialist, Chad has a unique but oft necessary position in the school. He helps kids on his caseload work through issues such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a tendency to flee, a tendency to hit. Therapists on the team do the hard, emotional work with the kids one-on-one to help them address what they feel and why they feel it. Skills Development Specialists (SDS) work with the kids on their actions and how to make better behavioral choices, both in one-on-one sessions and in the classroom. “You kind of have to play a little dance with your caseload,” said Chad, referencing the relatively unstructured day-to-day operations of a Skills Development Specialist. There are a certain number of meetings they must have with their clients per week depending on their level of need, but the landscape always seems to be changing. The caseload rotates slowly, but teachers have different preferences, schedules for extra activities blend and shift, a client may have an outburst in the morning, or an emergency might pop up in the afternoon. Chad manages by staying flexible and spending his day weaving in and out of classrooms, talking with teachers and dropping in on clients to assess the needs of the day. “You have to feel out who needs what at what time and adjust accordingly.”

Kids usually end up on the School Based caseload through a teacher recommendation. Teachers approach parents about working with Adult and Child to help their child tackle behavioral issues. Often the option is discussed when working out Individualized Education Plans. When a child is added to the caseload, a team will take around 30 days to really get to know them. They asses the child’s struggles and develop an individually tailored plan with goals to work on. This happens through classroom observation, discussions with parents and teachers, and familiarizing the child with the School Based team. After 30 days, the SDS will confer about their findings with a psychologist who will provide their own feedback, and then the intensive work begins.

 

SDSs will often work through storybook-type models that encourage children to examine their own behavior. Titles like “Jake the Frog Settles Down” and “Hunter and His Amazing Remote Control” are designed to illustrate what it looks like to use self behavior modification skills through the example of cheerful cartoon characters. An SDS will also spend time with their clients in the classroom, physically sitting beside them and helping to navigate different types of stimulation, distraction, emotions, etc. One other important piece of the School Based puzzle is parent interaction. When parents sign up their child, they also sign up themselves. Chad says that he usually meets with parents twice a month both to discuss their child’s progress and to involve them in the curriculum. “My work with parents and their children looks a lot like play,” said Chad. He says he often plays games to model and facilitate new types of parent-child interaction individualized to the child’s struggles. “If parents are on board and they’re actively involved in the child’s therapy or skills, then it goes a lot smoother and you move a lot faster toward a graduation or resolution.”

The ultimate goal of School Based is graduation from the program. Once a child is consistently meeting their goals with less and less support from the team, that’s when it’s time to transition them out of the program. Chad has worked in School Based for over a decade and has seen so many kids work through their behavioral problems and function well in school. “School Based works,” he said simply. “We’re there for the kids when they need us.” Supplying that line of defense helps children who might otherwise escalate their behavior so much that it leads to expulsion, a consequence where nobody’s happy and nobody’s learning. But with School Based interaction, Chad has seen that happen much less frequently, a factor that drives his passion for working with kids. “I wouldn’t work anywhere else,” he said, “I love it to pieces.”