Focusing on family strengths helps children, youth, and families build resilience. By providing all families with equal opportunity and access to the supports they need, we can help improve the safety and well-being of children and youth.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through this collaboration, prevention services and supports help protect children and produce thriving families.
The 2021/2022 Prevention Resource Guide is designed to help service providers and organizations, in every community, to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. The Resource Guide focuses on protective factors that build on family strengths to foster healthy child and youth development.
Protective factors are conditions or attributes that, when present in families and communities, increase the well-being of children and families and reduce the likelihood of maltreatment. Identifying protective factors helps parents find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively—even under stress. There are 6 protective factors:
Nurturing and attachment
Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
Spaulding for Children invites the public to “Families in Bloom 2,” sponsored by MASCO. Free and open to the public of all communities, Families in Bloom 2 will be presented Saturday, April 30, 2022 at St. John's Banquet and Conference Center in Southfield from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Families in Bloom 2 is a free and family friendly event that celebrates how Spaulding for Children empowers families to make our communities stronger. The event includes resources and activities for families, plus opportunities for the public to meet adults and children helped by Spaulding.
Available health resources include free COVID-19 vaccinations from Pfizer for those ages 5 and up. The Southfield Fire Department will sign up residents for free smoke detectors, as well as provide fire safety tips, information about the SFD summer camp program, and a tour of their mobile Fire House.
The event also will provide door prizes, entertainment, and fun activities for children, as well as light refreshments. In addition, important information about prevention of child maltreatment, adoption, and foster parenting will be available.
St. John's Banquet and Conference Center is located at 22001 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, Michigan, 48075.
Families in Bloom 2 also will honor individuals and organizations whose work and support have made Spaulding for Children an important resource for children and families. Spaulding was founded in Chelsea, Michigan in 1968 with the goal of finding a permanent family for every child who needs one. Spaulding supporters, volunteers, communities and staff have all contributed to the agency’s success.
Four awards will be presented at 12 noon at Families in Bloom 2. They include:
“The Robert ‘Bob’ and Marjorie Daniels Lighthouse Award” – Mr. Daniels was a charter board member and a beacon, bringing many companies and individuals to support SFC. The award will be presented to Ms. Addie D. Williams. A licensed attorney, licensed social worker, adjunct professor at Wayne State University, and Ms. Williams is also the former President/CEO of Spaulding for Children. Under her leadership as the President/CEO, of Spaulding for Children, the Agency was selected by Crain’s Detroit as Best Managed Non-Profit Organization with a Budget over $3 million.
“The John and Betty Barfield Angel Award” - Mr. Barfield's wish was for Spaulding to have the resources to fund 100 adoptions annually and started the Partners Endowment Campaign. The award will be presented to Charles “Chuck” Lechner, DDS. A Michigan health care professional and an entrepreneur, Dr. Lechner is a longtime supporter of Spaulding for Children. Through his kindness, compassion and generosity, the Agency has been able to provide facilities for family meetings, special events and other family programs. A graduate of University of Michigan and University of Detroit-Mercy, Dr. Lechner is a strong supporter of education.
“The Mike Lucci Ambassador Award” – Mr. Lucci was an ambassador for the children and SFC for more than 30 years, raising over a million dollars through his annual golf outing. The award will be presented posthumously to Mr. Paul Welch. An industrious man who rose to the highest levels in the midwestern lumber industry, Mr. Welch was a longtime advocate of Spaulding for Children. He also was an active and enthusiastic supporter of education and established the Paul Welch scholarship program for the children Spaulding serves.
“The Dave Thomas Spirit of Adoption Award” – Mr. Thomas dedicated his life to helping children get adopted. SFC continues to work with his foundation, supported by Wendy’s franchisees. The award will be presented to the Wendy’s Detroit Metro Area Franchisee Owners, which will be honored for their longtime support of Spaulding for Children and their work on behalf of adoption and foster care.
Activities Throughout the Day:
Southfield Fire Department Safety House and Raffle Pulls on the Hour
Kids First Initiative will present hands-on science activities to introduce children to the excitement of STEAM with Richard Bell.
Southfield Public Library and author S.F. Hardy will host readings and children's activities.
Southfield Parks & Recreation will distribute information about summer programs.
Southfield Fire Department will provide fire safety information and demonstrations.
MedNetOne in coordination with Judson Center offers COVID shots and boosters for those aged 5 and up.
DAPCEP will have STEM activities for different ages.
SAY Detroit Play Center will have fun activities for youngsters.
In addition, other organizations and exhibitors will present resources and opportunities for families and children. Included are:
Detroit PAL will disseminate information about their wide-ranging programs
Gro-Town will distribute seeds and coloring pages and provide a musical performance
The Power of Girlhood – Personal Growth Affirmations activities
MIECHV/Healthy Family America program at Wayne babies with CareHouse of Oakland County Director of Community Education outreach for April’s Child Abuse Prevention month
Oakland County Water Commission Dirt Doctors – Educational activities with video
UPS will offer hands-on tours of their UPS delivery vehicles.
Sponsors include MASCO and Spaulding Board of Directors.
Once-Foster Youth Readies for Career in Social Work
Willie Harris III
Willie Harris III holds himself to the highest standards. He expects the best out of life, so he gives his best to all he does.
Doing one’s best is an attitude Mr. Harris developed as a 13-year-old child in foster care. He plans to share his philosophy with children currently in foster care in a professional capacity. And he’ll soon do so, as a Social Worker in their service.
“It was the beginning of my education,” Mr. Harris said. “As I became older, I thought, ‘I might not get adopted. It was a fact, and I was angry at my situation, which impacted the homes in which I lived and my prospects for being adopted.
“The professionals I met helped me learn new ways to think about myself and what I was experiencing and feeling. They also helped me discover what I needed to know in order to take care of myself before I reached the age of emancipation. That motivated me; and, fortunately, I received guidance and mentorship from Spaulding."
Spaulding for Children staff, professional counselors and adult mentors helped Mr. Harris discover life as an adult was more than working a job, no matter the pay or prestige. Keys to success as adult include planning, preparation and scheduling.
“They helped me develop skills through games and role playing,” Mr. Harris recalled. “For example, they’d ask: ‘If you have this job and embark on that career, you can expect to make this amount of money each week.’ Housing, food, clothing and other costs were factored in. It was a very realistic simulation – an eye-opening experience – to discover what to expect in life as an adult.”
“They emphasized, of course, the role of education and the meaning of a diploma,” Mr. Harris said. “However, the most important concept I learned was ‘Integrity.’ I saw that most everything I do impacts my future and that of those around me. They count on my word. And I must always live up to that responsibility.”
As a foster child, Mr. Harris lived in several foster homes, hoping that one day he would be adopted and become part of a “forever family.” Unfortunately, like several thousand young people in foster care across the United States each year, Mr. Harris “aged out” of the system when he turned 18.
On Saturday, April 30, Willie Harris III will graduate from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Now 24 years of age, the Dearborn resident begins his job search. Willie’s former worker will be there to celebrate his accomplishment.
“Whether in a residential setting or a foster home, foster youth don’t always get the help they need,” Mr. Harris said. “Young people in foster care need to know that their education is obtainable. I went to Macomb Community College for my first two years. At school, your background, ethnicity and statistics don’t matter. Learning is what counts. Just get a degree. It will make a big difference in life.
“Nobody is ‘a nobody.’ I feel that all people should be treated fairly. Going through the program, I have developed a strong commitment to social justice, advocacy and policy. Policy brings real change to our nation and communities. We need to apply resources to those whose voices are seldom heard.”
Mr. Harris credits his mentors with developing the skills needed to succeed at college. Visualizing success, planning course loads, scheduling worktime, punctuality as a matter of routine, paying for tuition and books without borrowing or scholarships, and other responsibilities helped him gain confidence in himself.
Another important part of maturing into adulthood, Mr. Harris said, was learning how to forgive. Forgiveness shakes frees the judgmental mind, making it possible to hear and see what others are saying and doing. Forgiveness also helps one discover what really matters in human relationships.
“While my mom had difficulties, she was able to change her circumstances,” Mr. Harris said. “Mom made it clear that I must advocate for myself. No one else really knows what I have experienced. I am the one who must tell my story.
“I was fortunate to learn who I am and what I need to do to live in this world. I learned that we can if first we say, ‘I can,’ and then we do all we can to make it so. Soon, I will make certain others who are in situations similar to what mine was, will learn that if I can do it, they can do it, too!”
Everyone Has a Story Mentor Programs through Spaulding
The mentor programs Willie Harris cites as being so influential have been paused through COVID, but it is our hope that they be revived soon.
Youngsters in the program would meet monthly for a fun evening covering a variety of topics that the mentors felt would not be covered in school. Evening meetings took place at Spaulding offices for youth while their caregivers were also receiving instruction from Spaulding.
The mentor program was spearheaded by board members Willie Smith and Orlando Smith and led by Morgan Peterson and George Miller.
“We shared some valuable skills and information they were not getting elsewhere," Willie Smith said. “It’s so heartening to hear Willie Harris mention years later that some of our activities made an impression on him.”
Activities ranged from Life Skills; Body Image and Hygiene to Work Readiness; Career Development; First impressions and Conflict Resolution. One game that Willie Harris recalls was the Game of Life where they would select a career and then learn how to budget with the salary that job might pay. Or conversely, they would design a lifestyle then calculate what income they would need for that and identify jobs that would pay that much.
Willie Smith also utilized his community contacts to surface work opportunities, including summer jobs through Grow Detroit Youth Talent program.
Education Is Essential Scholarships through Spaulding
Years ago, Spaulding received financial gifts from the late Mike Lucci and the late Paul Welch to establish scholarship endowment funds for the sole benefit of current and former children/youth who are or have been placed in foster care or adoption through Spaulding. Both funds were established to defray the costs related to tuition, books, room and board and other college/trade program expenses.
Eligible youth, the young people being placed/serviced by Spaulding, can apply by contacting their case manager or the President/CEO directly. They must complete an application and attach verification of being enrolled in a college or trade school program. Scholarship recipients must maintain minimum 2.5 grade point average to qualify for renewed funds.
One of our recipients has faithfully applied for funds every semester since she started school at Henry Ford Community College. She is getting her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Michigan at the end of this year and will pursue a Law Degree.
Merrill Lynch manages the agency’s endowment funds, including both scholarship endowment programs. Over the years, we have provided scholarship funds to approximately 20 youth.
Caring, Compassionate, Competent, Committed... Ways We Support Our Youth and Families
Spaulding provides a multitude of services to our families as a foster care/adoption provider in Michigan. But what distinguishes Spaulding from other providers is the range of supports and activities offered to caregivers and their children. Examples include:
Welcome duffle bags, stuffed with hygiene kits, basic clothing, and helpful items
Clothes “shopping” from the agency’s clothing closet
Free tickets to sport events
Holiday gifts and Santa Shop (where children can “shop” for gifts for siblings, parents and other loved ones)
Fun activities where young people can spend quality time with siblings and parents and experience a sense of normalcy (Ice Cream Social/waterpark outing; trunk or treat; Families in Bloom 2
Limited free summer camp programs
Special Occasion Services such as Haircuts/Hair styled, manicures, Prom dresses and Tuxedos
Opportunities for public speaking.
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In partnership with families, communities, organizations, states and the nation, Spaulding for Children’s mission is to assure that all children grow up in safe, permanent families and have the help they need to be successful in life.