A new partnership is out of the starting gate in Tulsa Public Schools!

Called “Fostering Community Recruitment,” the idea is to keep abused and neglected foster kids in the same school, recruit more school-related families to foster kids entering custody, and engage volunteers to support kids and families.

A 23-year-old former foster youth for most of her life, Christine Hamby knows why this partnership matters.

She told her story of 10 years in state custody to more than 100 educators, schools volunteers, advocates for children, and DHS and TPS leaders.
And, Tulsa World columnist Ginnie Graham told Christine’s story, too.

Christine is in college now, but she has climbed high mountains to get there. She was taken into state custody at age 8 due to severe neglect, moved to more than 15 different homes and schools, parental rights terminated, adopted by an abusive family and later taken back into foster care, and spending the rest of her teen years as a foster kid.

It all adds up to few permanent connections, little support and encouragement during her young years.

She wants “people to understand how traumatic it can be for kids to have to move to different schools and have no strong connections.” It’s a feeling of a “fish-out-of-water.”

Here’s her story.

Stay tuned for good news about a new collaboration bringing together Tulsa Public Schools personnel and foster home recruiters, along with the Department of Human Services!

There are about 1,500 kids in DHS care in Tulsa County and, of those who are school-age, more than 300 attend Tulsa Public Schools.

It is a challenge for abused and neglected kids to make new friends, learn academic and life skills, and earn a high school diploma if they are periodically moved to new schools, where they must re-settle, re-build stability, and make new friends.

It’s a challenge, too, because there’s a growing shortage of foster homes as more kids enter the state’s foster care system.

So, a new initiative is being born with the new school year. TPS parent facilitators and PTA representatives are organizing “fostering community recruitment drives” to increase the number of foster homes and build volunteers for support services such as tutoring, transportation, respite care and more – all in an effort to keep a child in custody in his/her home school.

The first meeting brings together tribal home recruiters, recruitment agencies which are contracted by DHS to identify new foster families/placements for kids, DHS and TPS leadership.

This is an A+ plan that’ll help turn foster kids into graduates and provide extra hands and help for those who are now foster families.

This idea is sure to make the grade. We’ll let you know more as the plan unfolds.