DePaul Community Resources Annual Report 2023

A Growing Family Strengthened Story by Alison Wickline-Burns | Photos by Taylored Images

When Leticia received the call that her sister’s kids needed a safe place to stay, she opened her home to care for them without question. “It was very important for them to stay with family and in their circle,” said Leticia. The decision was easy, but the reality was hard. Leticia is only 27 years old and was already caring for children of her own. The family lived in a small apartment and worked hard to make ends meet. In a time of stress, struggle, and transition, DePaul ’s Strengthening Connections program stepped in to help. Strengthening Connections

system, and provides practical tools and support so children can remain with those familiar to them,” said Trista, foster care supervisor. For Leticia’s growing family, the program provided emotional and educational support for the children, furniture for their new larger apart ment, and assistance in filing for benefits to meet everyone’s needs. “If I would have had to do this without the program, I don’t know what that would have looked like,” said Leticia. “I would have had to do it piece by piece, a lot slower. I appreciate everything.” DePaul believes kinship care

“It was very important for them to stay with family and in their circle.”

is a grant-funded program designed to support relative and fictive kin caregivers and their families in accessing services and supports that help stabilize the family unit. The goals of this

programs like Strengthening Connections have the power to make a significant positive impact on Virginia’s child welfare system. As the state struggles to find enough safe, stable, loving


kinship care program include preventing children from entering foster care, avoiding further trauma through therapeutic support services, funding emer gency items to meet children’s immediate needs, and providing guidance from a kinship care specialist to ensure families are successful. “Our kinship program helps caregivers build their natural supports, learn to navigate the child welfare

foster homes to care for thousands of waiting chil dren and teens, kinship care will be an important part of the solution. Looking ahead, DePaul hopes to grow Strengthening Connections to serve more children and families in need. As for Leticia and her family, the future will not be without challenges, but they feel ready to tackle them together.

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