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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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JRI Celebrates its Foster Care Parents

Justice Resource Institute’s Foster Care Program honored its foster parents May 3 with a reception at the program’s Berkley headquarters.

Leaders from JRI and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families lauded the parents for providing a stable home for children, while acting as first responder, counselor, coach and mentor. The parents offer children love and acceptance, while teaching them basic skills of living in family. They often take their foster children on their first family vacation or their first restaurant meal, Some parents stay up nights calming substance-exposed infants, officials said.

“Thanks to our foster parents for being driven by hope and faith that you can make an impact on a child,” said Deb Oliveira, JRI vice president.

“I’m in constant awe of our foster families,” said Mia DeMarco, chief operating officer of JRI.

The families in the JRI Foster Care Program accept traumatized children who require the most intensive care, including infants who were exposed to opiates and other substances in the womb. Parents undergo 20 hours of training annually in addition to the standard training that Massachusetts requires for all foster parents. They also receive additional training in the particular needs of their child. Parents in two of the homes, for instance, are trained to work with transgendered youth.

Bob Costa, director of the Foster Care Program, lauded the parents’ willingness to help with homework, meet with teachers, doctors and therapists, offer loving guidance and make late night visits to the emergency room. Their work helps children succeed and often enables them to reunite with their families of origin. As adults, former foster children keep in touch with their foster parents, even visiting them with children of their own.

A group of JRI employees and legislatures pose for a group photo with the proclamation

Michael Pay, director of the DCF Plymouth area office, said the foster families “put the pieces back together in these children’s lives.” He presented a proclamation signed by Gov. Baker declaring May as Foster Care Month and celebrating foster parents’ service to society.

Foster parent Carmen Paulino, who works with transgender children, said that foster parents are in the “field of unconditional love,” recognizing the potential in every child and every family. Once a foster child herself, she said that “with good mentors, these children can accomplish anything.”

JRI works in partnership with individuals, families, communities, and government to pursue the social justice inherent in opening doors to opportunity and independence.

 

@JRISocialJstce