For Immediate Release
Kenosha, WI— Kenosha, Wisconsin, resident Ruth Donalds was named the 2018 Teaching Family Model Practitioner of the Year at the Teaching Family Association’s national conference in Omaha, Nebraska. Donalds has been a foster parent with Kenosha Human Development Services’ Specialized Foster Care since 2013. Recently retired from the Department of Corrections as a Parole/Probation Supervisor and now employed at the Hope Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, she has had 12 children placed with her over the years. They have ranged in age from five to 18. Some have stayed just a weekend, while her longest placement is two years and counting.
“I was very, very surprised and honored when I learned I had won this award,” said Donalds. “Working with KHDS Specialized Foster Care has been absolutely great. I started out with a very extensive training from KHDS to learn about how to be a foster parent and how to apply the Teaching Family Model that we use. Once the training is done and you get a child placed with you, you never feel like you’re alone out there. KHDS gives you a Consultant who is always available to help you out if you have a question, or need anything. My own Consultant, Lisa Rios, comes to visit twice a month and we meet with the foster child together. We talk about all of the good things that are going on, and work in some constructive feedback, trying to keep it four-to-one in favor of the positives.”
Steady feedback is one element of the Teaching Family Model. “TFM is really just good parenting skills,” Donalds continued. “I use it to teach the kids that they have choices in life every day and that those choices always have outcomes. The training I received taught me to use a variety of decision-making strategies to help my foster kids make their decisions on their own. Sometimes they pick a direction that I wouldn’t choose, and we end up working through some negative consequences. But that teaches them valuable lessons as well.”
“Ruth demonstrates unconditional positive regard with all of the foster children that she has cared for,” said Lisa Retzlaff, KHDS Director of Residential Care, who oversees the Specialized Foster Program. “She constantly works with kids to help them meet their full potential and she never, ever gives up on them! KHDS is so very proud to have her on our team!”
Currently KHDS is the only accredited Teaching Family program in Wisconsin and Illinois.
The KHDS Specialized Foster Care parents are committed to accepting children in complex situations into their homes, providing a safe, nurturing environment, and persevering in teaching those children more effective skills to get their needs met. The entire team at Specialized Foster Care participates in training foster parents, giving potential foster parents a thorough understanding of the agency and the people who will be supporting them.
Every home is supported by a Consultant who meets regularly in and outside the home, helping implement the treatment skills learned in training and offering 24/7 support as foster parents need it. Consultants and the rest of the team provide a monthly support group including dinner and childcare as well as ongoing education. For more information, visit KenoshaFosterCare.org.