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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.

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Healing Home

Foster families create safe places for children to heal.

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

Foster parents create healing homes.  They walk beside children who have experienced some of the deepest wounds and help them find their way through.  It takes courage, patience and love.  One of our amazing families shared their story recently.

 

“I think I need to talk to (social worker’s name).  Can you call her for me?” she asked, her eyes serious as they cleared the dishes from the table.

Foster mom recalled the immediate concern she felt.  “Well, it is late and she isn’t in her office anymore, but I can call her tomorrow.  Is it something you would like to talk to me about?”

“No…It’s about something that happened a long time ago, but I shoulda told her.”

“Okay, I’ll call her in the morning.  If you want to tell me, you can, but you don’t have to.”

They went through their evening routine.  Bedtime, a routine they’d choreographed over the past many months, a process of reading, of turning on twinkle lights, a night light, and a star machine, began.  Just before the last act, three kisses on the forehead to the right, three kisses to the left, she took her chance.

“I think I want to tell you that thing.”

The truth tumbled out, slow and staccato at first.  She looked up, eyes filled and ready to overflow.

“Do you hate me now?”

Foster mom gathered her courage, held her emotions in check.  “I will never hate you.  You could never ever do something to make you hate me.”

“Do I have to leave here now?”

“No.  I think you are a very brave girl and I am so proud of you for telling me.  Thank you for telling me.”

“I don’t want anyone to know.”

Foster mom cringed.  “I can’t keep that secret.  My job is to keep kids safe, so we’re going to have to tell some people, people who can help.  But other people don’t need to know.”

“Do you have to tell Foster Dad?  I don’t want him to think I’m disgusting.”

“You are eight.  Nothing that happened was your fault and Foster Dad will never think you are disgusting.”

Her face relaxed.  “I thought you’d hate me.  Can you give me my goodnight kisses now?”

Three kisses right, three kisses left.  “We will never ever hate you.”

The door was left three quarters shut.  Foster mom went down to the living room, her knees shaking. 

 

In the weeks since, the monsters have come out.  Night terrors have stolen sleep.  Tantrums have erupted unexpectedly.  Meetings were held, a SAIN interview conducted, reports filed.  The bedtime routine has new moves, designed to give her some safety, some control, a reminder that the past is done and the present is safe.  It will be work, years of reinforcing safety, of helping her reclaim her autonomy, of giving her the skills to advocate for herself and know that is her inherent right.  Foster Mom and Foster Dad know the work that lies ahead and they are committed.  They are committed to loving her and helping her love herself.

If you are a person who can support a child’s healing, please contact us today. 

www.jri.org/fostercare

@JRISocialJstce