My name is Kyle, and I’ve been working with 18 Degrees for just over nine years now in the Healing Homes Comprehensive Foster Care program. We started in Hadley and later made a smooth transition into West Springfield, closer to the families we work with. I came into this field hoping to be a voice for youth who have lost their own voices. It has been an intimate learning experience working with children and both their biological and foster families as a whole.
Every individual in a family, every family in a community, and our goal is to support our communities the best we can. Our Healing Homes team is full of diverse-minded individuals. We take the approach of teamwork to support struggling youth. This approach is to have them see and feel support from a trusted team of adults because their past experiences have taught them not to trust adults. The strong support system within our team carries over into our support for our families.
Over the years, I have gotten to know some bright, loving, and eclectic youth who define resiliency each and every day they roll out of bed. Our youth range from newborns to teens, gamers to athletes, models to even future social workers. I have been able to see some beautiful biological families work hard with DCF towards reunifying with their children through the support and teamwork from our families. I have seen our foster parents open up their minds, hearts, and homes to understand youth they never imagined raising and, in turn, help the whole family grow.
Sometimes reunification is too far-gone, and quite often, these youth have been through the ups and downs of changing goals with DCF. This is when some of our families take the next step towards guardianship or adoption. These children have experienced the loss of their parents at important developmental stages in their life, be it a toddler or adolescent. Our families do their best to help teach youth how to repair relationships and trust adults again after so much disappointment and hardship.
I came into this line of work for the kids, but I have learned we are all just kids making sense of this world, one day at a time, and we are never alone as long as we continue to open up our minds, hearts, and souls to understand each other.