Dolores G., a cherished Koinonia resource parent, was also a middle school Campus Supervisor who had many years of experience in caring for teen boys. Dolores has long understood the value of structure and consistency for youth in foster care, and she prioritized those needs of the boys who were brought into her home. She also knew the importance of showing unconditional love and acceptance, which she shared generously and purposefully.
Dolores has always been open to caring for teens who needed devoted attention; the children that many other families were reluctant to care for.
Johnny was twelve when he was first placed with Koinonia. Most boys Johnny’s age were learning to deal with typical emotional and physical changes. As much as he wanted to focus on the “normal” issues of a 12-year-old, he was also facing the struggles of being a child in foster care. His swirling emotions stemming from abuse and neglect would often cause him to behave aggressively. It wasn’t long before it became very apparent that Johnny not only needed intensive services, but he would also need a highly-structured resource family who could commit to loving him no matter what his behavior looked like. Maria, Johnny’s Koinonia Social Worker, began searching for the best resource family for his specific circumstances.
There was no question that Dolores would be a perfect match for Johnny as a resource parent.
Dolores prioritized starting placements off on a positive note, being mindful of where they were coming from and what life experiences they had been through. True to form, she arrived at the Kern County emergency shelter with cake and balloons to welcome Johnny into her home.
Dolores became a trustworthy partner and a huge asset to Johnny’s team. She made him a top priority every day, making decisions with his best interests in mind. Dolores diligently worked with a team of people to obtain the resources he needed to begin healing. She has a gift for instilling self-confidence in teen boys, and she began doing just that with Johnny.
While placed in the home, Johnny loved participating in sports and joining Dolores in church outreach programs for the poor. One of the biggest highlights of Johnny’s time in foster care was his connection to a Bakersfield Angels mentor who took him to many extracurricular activities. He began to thrive with the care, consistency, and social support he received from his mentor.
While Dolores loved having Johnny in her home, she kept in mind that the goal for him was family reunification with his grandfather (whom Johnny referred to as “Dad”). Throughout his time in the home, Dolores made a huge effort to maintain the relationship between Johnny and his dad. She always encouraged visitations between the two of them.
Johnny’s father-figure was always very kind to Dolores and consistently made an effort to build a healthy relationship with Johnny.
Johnny’s dad took every necessary step to regain custody. He completed all his court-mandated classes and maintained a friendly, workable relationship with Dolores. Together they focused on Johnny’s physical development and social/emotional well-being. His dad could be counted on to participate in Johnny’s team meetings whether they were with his school or child welfare.
This strong connection between his resource parent and family brought Johnny a sense of security knowing everyone was working in his best interests.
Johnny spent eight months in foster care before he was reunited with his dad. The major challenge was that his dad never found his own home. Instead, he chose to move in with Johnny’s birth mother. This was somewhat disappointing to Johnny, and he advocated for a longer stay in foster care. His dad completed all of the reunification requirements, so Johnny did have to be reunified before a house for just the two of them could be found. Johnny is comforted by the fact that he will continue to receive services and ongoing support from his Bakersfield Angels mentor. Our hope is that his father-figure will continue to look for individual housing, and that he will retain the skills he learned from his classes in order to provide the strong, nurturing support Johnny needs as he grows into adulthood.
Mardi Yeary, Maria Barron, & Lanni Jackson, Contributors