Conversations with HELP Program & Bio Parents

"A support system is KEY to making reunification work." - Tammy Mullins

 

Ann Book recently moderated a panel on the HELP program, which stands for Healing Every Loving Parent. The panel consisted of Attorney Ad Litem Tammy Mullins and two sets of bio parents who have become HELP mentors.

 

The HELP program aims to bring together biological parents who have previously experienced and ultimately overcame custody issues with their children. Through the program, these parents become mentors and support systems for other biological parents that are working toward healing and regaining custody of their children. 

 

Creating support systems for new parents is essential to a healthy and balanced family life. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an understanding community to support bio parents who persevere through the challenging road to reunification.

 

Stories from biological families like our guests, Kelli Hendrix or Frank C., remind us of two things: 

 

1.) NWA needs compassionate and empathetic foster parents. 

2.) We can support and create hope towards reunifying families.

 

Throughout the panel, we had numerous encouraging messages and questions roll in; here are some of the points we covered:

 

Did the support of your child's foster parents encourage and empower your determination to do the work to reunify, and if so, do you think the absence of that would do the opposite for you?

 

Kelli explained that through simple acts of forwarding pictures from daycare, text updates, and phone calls, she would get little bursts of weekly determination. By feeling like her foster placement was extended family members, she not only trusted them with her child but began to lean on them for her own healing journey. They earned her trust and gave her a safe space to continue in her daughter's life while simultaneously focusing on her health. 

 

"We can work together and co-parent. To know there are these foster families where the people care about you and your child so much that they never make you feel that guilt… it's the best situation you could have." - Kelli Hendrix

 

Frank believes that by having his foster placement parents on his side, he could dodge all the choices that would have sent him off the deep end. His road to sobriety was not easy, and everything his child's foster placement did to involve him, cheer him on, and check on him made a difference. 

 

"This time, having Shane and Brandon [his family members], say 'We've got you, go get YOU taken care of'… it just clicked." - Frank C.

 

How do you break the barrier for biological families to know that foster families want reunification over keeping their child?

 

"[Amy on fostering Kelli's daughter] I thought about what I would want as a parent, and that's what I wanted to give to her." - Amy, Foster Parent

 

Biological families need to know that there are people who believe in them, support them, and will look past their mistakes to see them in full. Kelli and Frank reiterated that the bonds they built with the foster families were forever bonds; this allowed for a connection and trust that helped them see the end goal was reunification.  

 

"You have to earn trust; it does not happen overnight." - Jesse, Foster Parent

 

When foster families come into the program in support of child and parent, at whatever capacity they can, it creates a safe environment for the biological family to ask questions, focus on their health, and have hope in the process.

 

How Are You CALLed?

If you found yourself on our website, we first want to thank you for being interested in the mission of The CALL. We believe everyone has a call they can answer, whether it is fostering, volunteering, mentoring, or donating. Come alongside us in our mission to educate, equip, and encourage people to provide for Arkansan children.

Contact
Northwest Arkansas

Phone
479-418-1314

Email
NWA@thecallinarkansas.org

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