Going Above and Beyond for Children and Families
The Trinity Youth Services Team in Houston, Texas is made up of special people who have a big heart for families and children. They often go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure children are safe, nurtured, loved and protected. When families first come into the Houston office, they are greeted with smiles and are given the encouragement and support they need to effectively and lovingly care for foster children of all backgrounds.
Tonia has been the Houston Foster Care Director since July and has had a tremendous impact in the lives of families in Houston who wish to grow their family and help children in need of a caring, loving home. Tonia moved from Michigan to begin her work at Trinity Youth Services as the Treatment Supervisor and Assistant Director in 2017.
Florence: Tell us about the transition from Michigan to Texas.
Tonia: I jumped into that role coming from Michigan, so I had to learn Texas, especially in the child care system. My new role allowed me to familiarize myself with the agency, and how we can help our families be successful as well as the children. Taking on this role allows me to be an overseer of all of the aspects of the agency. As the Treatment Supervisor, I dealt with caseloads and social workers, but in this role, I have the ability to train the staff and conduct Marketing campaigns so that we can grow.
Florence: Why did you choose a career at Trinity Youth Services?
Tonia: I think I’m able to make a difference here. I can see growth and opportunity, so I am excited about my role.
Florence: What do you think sets Trinity apart from other agencies?
Tonia: We walk people through the process and accommodate families’ schedules regarding trainings. We are also more flexible when it comes to their availability when it comes to crisis situations. Our Social Workers answer the phones, and they go out to help the families. We have a much more personal approach, and I think that makes more of a difference. I’ve been told that some agencies aren’t there for their families as they should be. We stay alert to changes so we can keep families and staff informed, so I consider myself as an advocate for our families. I think that sets us apart from other agencies.
Florence: A major myth about foster children is that they are troubled youth who have behavior issues and are difficult to parent. What would you like perspective parents to know about raising foster children?
Tonia: I think one of the key factors is that every child needs at least one person to care about them, and that can make the difference if they perceive themselves as being successful or not. I’ve had the ability to work with children in different arenas who were involved in Head Start, foster care, residential, and the juvenile justice system. At the end of the day, one child can be involved in all of those arenas. It really depends on the support system the child has that can help them determine what direction that child will go in. Potential foster families may hear negative things about foster kids, but that doesn’t have to be their experience. They can come to the table providing this child with a fresh opportunity. Every child is a blank slate, and that’s how they should be looked at, regardless of what’s in their file. Focus on how you will be able to help this child in your home.
Florence: Why should perspective foster parents choose Trinity?
Tonia: We will help them through the process and will fight for them when things aren’t going their way. We aren’t going to rush them through it, because I need parents to know what they are signing up for. There are a lot of things they have to know to be successful.
Florence: As a foster care director, what is one of your immediate goals?
Tonia: I want to help more children. It hurts my soul to see children in need, and I don’t have a bed or a home for them. There are a lot of teenagers who haven’t been placed in homes. I would love to have more families on board who can work with our teens.
Florence: What, in your opinion, makes our Social Workers special?
Tonia: Our Social Workers are on call 24/7 in trying to meet the needs of the children and families. They understand their roles are not the typical 9-5 and are willing and able to provide the additional support when necessary.
Robert has been a Treatment Foster Care Social Worker for over two years and previously had worked with children with mental and physical disabilities for seven years in Mental Health Services. He also worked in a Residential Treatment Center.
Florence: What is the best thing about working at Trinity Youth Services?
Robert: The atmosphere. I like the teamwork that we do here. The only way for us to be successful is to work as a team. It’s like Trinity’s mission statement. We don’t let anyone fall by the wayside, if we can help it. We do our best to help the kids and each other, too. I really do enjoy working here. It has enlightened me a whole lot. My heart goes out to the kids. One of my clients is a freshman at Texas Southern University. He is doing well, and I keep in touch with him. He said the schoolwork is hard. I told him that he is just as smart as the other students, and I told him, “hang in there, you’ll make it.” He said he will.
Florence: What are some reasons people should consider fostering through Trinity?
Robert: Because you have people like me and other staff members who are going to stand by your side and support you in whatever it is that you are going through. We will step in to help you.
Donna is a Supervising Social Worker at the Houston foster care office. She began at Trinity nearly a year ago a Foster Care Social Worker and was quickly promoted to her current position.
Florence: What’s the best thing about working at Trinity?
Donna: The leadership. I’ve learned a lot from Tonia. She’s hands-on. I told her I wanted to work with someone who can show me the ropes on things that I don’t know. Tonia said, “There’s something I can learn from you, too, so let’s work together.” That was it for me.
Florence: What are some reasons people should think of becoming a foster parent through Trinity?
Donna: It’s rewarding. When you look at children who are in Trinity’s care, the majority of them will have a smile on their face. When we first begin working with youth, they don’t have a smile on their face. But when staff and the social workers start working with them, you will see the transition of a child who came from an environment where there was no reason to smile. We engage them, show them love and care, and nurture them. You see a difference in the kids when you do that. I can say, since I’ve worked at another agency, all agencies don’t do that.
Angela is a Treatment Foster Care Social Worker and has been with the agency for nearly a year.
Florence: What made you decide to work with Trinity, specifically?
Angela: I’ve always loved working with children who have been abused and/or neglected. Because I was an abused child who was never rescued; my passion is making sure that the children on my workload are heard and helped.
Florence: Describe an experience with a family that touched your heart.
Angela: I have a foster parent who was in the process of adopting a sibling group of four. The children have been in care since they were infants. The foster mom wants the children to be together and know their roots. I know the kids love her and I know she loves them. I’ve been at their house in the evening when they’re getting ready for bed. They’ll say, “I love you, Mommy.” She’ll say, “I love you, baby. Say your prayers.” They have a chance that many kids don’t get.
Trinity’s Houston office is located in Harris County. If you’re interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent and are in the area, make sure to reach out to our caring team at 713.957.8442.
Florence Edwards, Foster Care Marketing Specialist
Florence has a strong commitment to helping foster youth and their families thrive and live successful lives. A former foster youth, Florence obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and is a certified Holistic Life Coach, motivational writer, self-help author and celebrity interviewer. Beyond the Trinity Youth Services blog, Florence’s articles can be found in numerous platforms including Foster Focus Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, BET Centric and Huffington Post. A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, Florence continues to educate, support and mentor foster youth throughout Southern California.