Opening your home to a child who may never have had a loving home in his or her young life can bring unimaginable rewards to all concerned. A loving foster home can provide children with a nurturing and stable environment during one of the most challenging times in their young lives. “Allowing yourself to become vested in the positive improvement of these children’s lives, as well as participating with the professional child welfare team to help serve in the best interest of the child is an awesome task,” says Doris Gaines, founder of the nonprofit A New World Child Placement Agency in Aurora, Colorado.
A New World provides nurturing, structured therapeutic foster care homes, group homes and group centers for children who are abused, medically fragile, or have special needs including developmental disabilities, emotional, psychological or behavioral problems. Certified homes receive sibling groups, newborns, teens and other children to age 18 and from ages 18 to 21 by court order.
Prior to any child placement, potential foster parents complete a comprehensive orientation and training designed to provide them with the tools to properly care for the children in their homes. This training educates prospective foster parents about what to expect and gives them the support and consistency that allows them to feel confident in their ability to be the best foster parent possible.
A New World certifies and sponsors foster homes and group homes throughout Colorado. “Our intent is for our placements to be the last placement for a child until that child may be reunited with his or her family or be adopted,” Gaines says.
What is necessary to become successful as a foster parent? Commitment, time, patience and love are the building blocks to creating a nurturing, loving environment for children who may have never felt wanted, valued or safe, according to executive director Brooke Davidson. The nonprofit agency oversees case management for social welfare agencies. Counselors on staff work directly with the foster parents and their young charges, ensuring that the right resources—including therapeutic care—are offered in each situation, so that no child falls through the cracks.
Children in foster care come from families in crisis. One or both parents may be incarcerated. There may be mental illness, addiction issues, abuse or neglect involved. These children are wary; foster parenting is about building trust and making the children feel secure. “We are not deterred by the child who looks scary on paper. Every child deserves to be treated with dignity,” Gaines says.
A New World maintains foster homes and group homes that are trained and equipped to take the difficult placements, or children who have experienced abuse, have behavioral issues or are in the juvenile justice system. A New World provides professional help to its foster parents 24 hours a day should a foster child have a violent or self-harming situation. Davidson, who was a foster parent herself, stresses how important that support is when there are difficulties that are spiraling out of control. “I know what it’s like to need help in the middle of the night and not get it. We are here for our foster parents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Compassion and Need
The agency also accepts emergency placements. Sometimes, children arrive at foster homes late at night, with just the clothes on their backs. It’s not unusual for foster parents to be at Wal-Mart at 10 p.m. purchasing school clothes and other essentials for a new arrival. Some of the most welcome gifts at A New World are gift cards for Wal-Mart, Target, King Soopers and other stores.
Gaines, who holds her Master of Social Work (MSW) and a Master of Arts in education from Washington University, has over 30 years of experience as an educator in the Colorado Cherry Creek School District, working primarily with at-risk youth as a dean of students, counselor, and social worker. She founded A New World in 2012 to combine high expectations with love and compassion for children in foster care. Davidson also holds her MSW from the University of Denver and is a longtime veteran of nonprofit human services and child welfare agencies.
“We want our families to make a difference with every child placed in their homes,” Davidson says. Gaines adds that providing children with life skills necessary to become productive and contributing citizens in the society in which they live. The ultimate goal is family reunification as recommended and approved by the placing county. But Gaines envisions foster care as truly being a new world for these children. “We encourage and inspire our families to promote positive attitudes, the development of positive self-esteem, endorse positive decision making skills and to aid in the improvement of a child’s individual self-worth.
A New World Child Placement Agency
15200 E. Girard Ave., Aurora
24 hour emergency contact: 303-743-4002
Bio: Frequent Colorado Expression contributor Kimberly Field wrote about Denver’s nonprofit fundraising galas in the October/November 2013 issue of the magazine.