When we set out to begin our Foster Care program, we wanted to ensure we were different – there are already 12 other agencies doing good work in the Omaha area. One of the ways we feel we are equipped to assist foster parents through this journey is the selection of our support team.
We selected the job title of Family Stability Specialist for our team members, because these staff will be supporting foster families, kinship/relative families, and birth families throughout the child welfare process. We created specialized training to help staff feel equipped in all areas of the system.
Our foster care team has an incredibly wide range of experiences, but we think that our connection to the foster care system is what will help us provide the best support to foster families in Omaha. Between our team, we have over 30 years’ experience as kinship, foster, adoptive and guardianship parents, along with other experiences working directly with children and families from all walks of life.
Family Stability Specialist Jill Michalski has been a foster parent since August 2012. She’s also trained as a foster parent trainer, and assists in training our new families. Jill said, “The Lord put foster care on my heart about 10 years before he laid it on my husband's heart. This was a struggle for me because I knew I was supposed to be a foster parent and that I was also supposed to honor my husband. It wasn't until I gave up on selling my husband on the idea and surrendered that job to God that he came around. Three days later we were signed up for classes. I suppose I needed to learn more patience and that I am not in control before that next stage of our lives began.”
Jen Bowes, Family Stability Specialist, and her husband, Tim, became foster parents in 2007, and were foster parents for six years.Their hearts were called to adoption to grow their family, which includes three biological children. As they researched adoption, “we were made aware of the need for homes and families to care for children in foster care. We heard story after story of children who required a home, but none were available. Our hearts were immediately drawn to this need and to these children.” She recalls a period of time where it felt they were at the hospital more than they were at their home, caring for medically fragile children.
Our team will be here through the ups and downs of foster care, because we understand that there are challenges for all involved parties. Jen remembers the roller coaster of emotions well. “We were overcome with the death of a child who received a transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center, we celebrated with a father who worked diligently and reunified with his two sons, we mourned the legal separation of a mom with her daughter, and our family tree was changed forever with the adoption of our three children.”
To those considering foster care or just beginning their journey, Jill’s advice is to pray and then jump. “God doesn't call the equipped, so if you are feeling called, trust that He will be there equipping you with what you need.”