“You never know what you’ll be good at until you try,” is Laura Abujudeh-Kassem’s motto. It’s one she lives by as a passionate Intake and Foster Care Office Director for Trinity Youth Services. Laura’s personal and professional mission is helping youth find safe, supportive families who can nurture their growth and help them thrive.
Teen moms, medically-fragile babies, and children with special needs can be more difficult to place due to the negative stereotypes that persist about their perceived challenges. To increase the interest in these special populations, Laura goes the extra mile to help ease the fears of foster parents by educating them about the needs of the youth, acknowledging the youth’s strengths, and helping the parent adopt a positive outlook on fostering. Providing honest dialogue about expectations as well as discussing the type of assistance they will receive has proved to be beneficial.
“I encourage foster parents to take older youth because it’s our biggest need. I ask them to be willing to accept calls for children of all ages,” Laura said. Laura’s ultimate goal is making them feel confident enough to take in youth who are seemingly high-risk. She lets them know that they are never alone and always have access to resources, guidance and support.
“I want foster parents to think, ‘If I give a child my all, and have the support of the agency, I think I can do it,'” Laura said. Encouraging a foster parent to extend their comfort zone isn’t always easy, but Laura is determined and never gives up if she believes a foster parent and child are a good fit.
“A parent said she didn’t want to work with teens. She had already raised her daughter and only wanted to foster babies. I received a call one day about a college-bound teen mom who had an infant son, and the county needed a home for them. I thought, ‘I’ll call this mom. I felt like she could work with her.’
“When I called, I said, ‘I have your baby that you’ve been waiting for, but he has a teen mom with him.’ The foster parent said, ‘No, I can’t do that.’ I said, ‘I will tell you about her. She’s a college-bound, responsible teen mom. She just needs your guidance the same way you’ve raised your daughter to be successful. Help her transition in her life. I believe you can do this.’ I empowered her. She told me she’d give it a try.”
After opening-up her heart and her home to the teen mom, something amazing took place. According to Laura, “The foster parent had a positive experience and was able to help her transition to college and helped her get an apartment. Then, she became our ‘Foster Mom for Teens’ in San Diego County. She talked to potential families about her fostering experience. She was able to succeed due to the support and encouragement she received from our staff. She also made a point to reach out to us when she needed resources or support.”
Going above and beyond to help youth in crisis, as well as helping foster parents succeed, is what makes people like Laura and the Trinity Youth Services staff stand out above the rest.
“I believe in our families,” Laura said. “We help guide them and let them know that they are part of a team. They can always reach out to us for support.”
Laura Abujudeh-Kassem is the Trinity Youth Services foster care director in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. If you are in the area and are interested in becoming a resource parent under her supportive team, contact her office at 888.346.9645.
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. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 888.346-9645