Wishing You and Yours
The Happiest of Holidays 

The team at Spaulding for Children join to wish you and yours a happy and peace-filled holidays. We also want to thank you for all you do to help children and to build stronger families.

Our December newsletter brings important new resources from each of the eight QIC-AG member sites. We also want to tell you about a remarkable Spaulding alumnus who is putting into practice important information he learned at Spaulding, and more news about the holiday season. And we also have more information below, including links to ways you can volunteer and make life brighter for children and families during the holidays and in the year ahead.

QIC-AG Releases 8 New Videos

QIC-AG -- the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption & Guardianship Support and Preservation -- has released a new series of videos with content coming from each of the eight QIC-AG partner sites. 

Each video provides a window into the different interventions and features families and team members working together to promote permanence and improve adoption and guardianship preservation and support. We also think they serve as powerful tools for all families. 

To view them, please click on the images and title links below.  

Spaulding Presents at International Seminar on Foster Care and Families

For the third consecutive year, Spaulding was invited to present at the Third International Seminar on Foster Care and Families, held Oct. 21-23, 2019 in Campinas, Brazil.

The International Seminar brought together child welfare professionals from Brazil, England, France, Portugal, Spain and the United States to exchange and share their experience about various aspects of foster care, including strategies to recruit, train and retain foster families and discuss emerging issues impacting workforces and societies.

The event provided an ideal platform for Spaulding to showcase products and talk about its experience developing, evaluating and implementing state-of-the-art training curricula designed to equip and support the development of foster and adoptive families’ ability to effectively parent children in the foster care system.

Among the forward-looking subjects discussed at the seminar are the responsibilities of nations and societies to children when transitioning toward economic and environmental sustainability.

The International Seminar was attended by over 400 participants comprised of judges, child welfare leading professionals, government and non-government entities, scholars and child welfare practitioners. As in previous years, Spaulding’s presentation raised considerable interest and continued to increase its visibility in Brazil and other nations.

A Spaulding Profile
Pastor Donearl Johnson

Pastor Donearl Johnson with members of his family. In front of Pastor Johnson (left to right) are daughter Kaila, Mrs. Jenea Johnson, his wife, and daughter Jenetta. In the front is daughter Kimberly. Not in the photo is daughter Shabria, who is away in college.

Pastor Donearl Johnson learned a lot about trauma and how it affects kids in their development when he worked at Spaulding for Children for 11 years.

Pastor Johnson held many positions at Spaulding, including providing all IT support for federal grant projects. He also learned throughout his work about childhood trauma from Dr. Bruce Perry, the internationally recognized authority on children in crisis, and other experts about trauma.

Donearl Johnson today is Lead Pastor at Life Church Auburn Hills. There Pastor Johnson serves in the local school community with children and families who have been exposed to trauma. There are many challenges that these children face due to their exposure. Also, there are several families in his community that have been made through adoption and he desires to equip families and the church community on how to best serve them.

Pastor Johnson is committed to teaching those who interact with these children to become as informed as he became at SFC. Johnson feels that these families can benefit from guidance about trauma and its effects on a child’s development.

“We spend too much time reacting to the behavior, instead of responding to their needs."  Pastor Donearl Johnson.

One statement Pastor Johnson heard while working at Spaulding is a saying he will never forget. And he puts it into practice.

“We spend too much time reacting to the behavior, instead of responding to their needs," Pastor Johnson said. "It is better to respond than to react."

Pastor Johnson is committed to teaching those who interact with these children to become as informed as he became at Spaulding. Johnson said he feels that these families can benefit from guidance about trauma and its effects on a child’s development. 

Examples of what he’s learned that he’d like to share include:
  • Take the time as needed: It may take longer to feel an emotional connection with children who've experienced trauma in their lives, likewise, it may take longer to see positive changes in their behavior.
  • Don’t expect the child to behave like kids who have not been through what they have.
  • Don’t judge. Just give them support.
Recognizing different types of trauma – including physical – can help us understand their behavior, Pastor Johnson said. For example, when a child turns away from us when we reach out to embrace them. Don’t blame them or yourself. Touch can take on a completely different meaning than intended. Learning this can help us manage our expectations and understand their behavior.

“If you see a child in a wheelchair, you don’t say, ‘Get up and walk,’” Pastor Johnson said. "For children who have been exposed to trauma, they too have scars and inabilities that are not that visible, but they are very real. Therefore, you need to manage your expectations and support accordingly.”

Pastor Johnson hopes to train his staff at the church on some techniques that he learned from the child welfare community.  Also, he plans to partner with child welfare professionals to help his staff and entire church community learn more about childhood trauma, its effects on children and their families, and best practices to serve those in need.

He believes that by sharing with each other trauma awareness – everyone can make more informed decisions about how we help advance the healing journey for a child.   

Holiday Triggers and Tips

With all its sights and sounds, the holiday season can be a time of great joy. They also can make for a time of overwhelming emotions and incredible sensory stimulation.

Some triggers for kids could be sensory processing:  All of the extra sounds and sights during Christmas can be an overload. Some kids become more anxious during Christmas that their ability to function goes down.

Trauma triggers can be that the child was removed during the holidays so sensations and situations can trigger a traumatic response like bringing up an old memory and trying to suppress it.

You can find out from children what were their holiday traditions at home with birth parents, if they never experienced Christmas the foster family can share their holiday traditions with the children and maybe even merge holiday traditions to give the children a sense of feeling safe.

Sometimes asking what the child is going through helps the child know that you are aware of what they are experiencing. That effort at understanding also helps to build connections.

Family Cheer at Our 'Polar Express'

This year’s holiday party was themed The Polar Express. Going by the happy faces, we think everyone had a jolly good time. We hosted more than 80 families and more than 170 children. And each child left with a copy of the book and the movie, “The Polar Express.”  
  • Each child made an ornament craft and a holiday card, took a picture with Santa, and walked away with a pair of slippers.
  • Every person was gifted a Hot Cocoa Gift set. 
  • Every household was gifted a Polar Express movie. 
  • 20 Family Gift Baskets were raffled off. 
  • 50 Polar Express books were raffled off.
  • We had almost 75 people donate books, movies, slippers, decorations, raffle baskets. 
  • Over 80 families attended; over 170 children
  • We made community connections with the Moose Lodge #2228 Women’s Group, Moose Lodge #1190 Men’s Group, and Benefit Review. Each group donated $300, in addition to gifts. 
  • A community connection was made with the new Reverend Dr. Robyn D. Moore at First Institutional Baptist Church. Not only did they allow us to utilize their church again, but Rev. Dr. Moore wants to utilize Spaulding as the charity/volunteer opportunity in 2020 for their women’s ministry.

The Season of Giving

This past year we received support from many in the corporate community, both through financial support and the participation of volunteers and individual donors.

Among the organizations that stepped up to help Spaulding for Children are Veoneer and United Shore Financial, as well as UPS, HAP, MASCOGFL Environmental, Wendy’s regional franchises, The English Garden, UBER, and Lyft.

Thank you, all! Your help makes all the difference in the world to us and the families and children we serve.

During the Season of Giving, there are several ways you can support Spaulding and the families we serve:
  1. Adopt a Family

This program serves to help families and children who need help this season. You select what size family you’d like to support, and we will select a family. Please send your information by email to or telephone Cheryl Gist, Executive Assistant, at 248-443-000 to Adopt a Family.
  1. Our Wish List

We recently had about a number (5 to 10) young children enter foster care. If you are interested in donating a holiday gift to them, or sponsoring one of the children, please contact Katie Ward, Adoption/License Specialist, at or click this link to check out the Amazon Wishlist.
  1. When Shopping on Amazon...

PLEASE go to and choose Spaulding for Children in Southfield, MI as your charity of choice. 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.
  1. Volunteer with Us in 2020

Resolve in the New Year to commit to one of these volunteer opportunities:

Parent Empowerment Group Meetings -- (mentoring parents and youth) Second Monday of the Month (September – May), 6 – 8 p.m.

Families in Bloom II -- Saturday, May 16, 2020, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ice Cream Social -- Friday, July 10, 2020, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Please phone us at 248-443-000 to volunteer and for details. Thank you!

Change a child's life, become a foster parent!

Click to learn more.


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Please keep us posted about news you'd like to share with our colleagues. We'd also like to know your thoughts about our newsletter. Email our Editor, Cheryl Gist: Thank you!
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