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Director's Message

Happy New Year to all! May it be one of CONNECTION for many more of us, child, youth, and adult alike.

This theme has been on my mind a great deal lately, as we experienced the holiday season which is always depicted as full of warmth, joy, good food and good times with friends and family. But many are grieving through these times; they may have lost someone dear, or the picture-perfect holidays have never been their truth. Many suffer in silence—and some, when they feel disconnected enough, act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others. More about mental health stresses below.

I recently read the report from the Safer Kids, Safer Schools (SKSS) group that came together to brainstorm ways to assure that our region never sees school gun violence as we have seen it happen in other communities, in Oxford and East Lansing and beyond.

The SKSS findings were:

• We cannot fortify our way to safety. Physical safety measures and procedures are important but not fail-safe.

• The well-being of our young people is essential. Factors that place students at risk of being a school shooter are childhood trauma, loneliness, bullying, mental health challenges, personal crisis and lack of community awareness and coordinated response.

• Family/school/community engagement and a helping, compassionate approach are essential to caring for our young people. The entire community must consider the well-being of our young people as a priority and responsibility. The future vitality of our community depends on it.

The report goes on to say that “promoting physical/mental/emotional well-being among youth is the greatest investment we can make to prevent a school shooting.”

And one of the main ways to do so is to build a caring, connected community. We at CFS are so grateful for your financial support and for your volunteerism. In 2024, we are asking our community to connect with us, and our children, in a new way—through many opportunities to host a child or youth in your home. These opportunities can be very short term (overnight or a weekend) to many months long. We offer you comprehensive training and support and sometimes financial reimbursement too.

If you have a heart for our kids, contact us to learn more about the many opportunities to engage with our youth directly—to be a friend or mentor, to help create safety and security for a youth who was too busy surviving to think about school. To be a temporary haven for a child who hopes to be reunited with their birth family. To give foster families a short break from the 24/7 work of caring for our community’s children. Read more about some of these opportunities below.

It's going to take all of us to create that caring, connected community.

Thank you for all you do.

Attached here is the SKSS Report referenced above.


Gina Aranki, Executive Director

Get Involved

Could you be the one to help make a difference? Are you interested in helping children in need but not sure if long term foster care is right for you? CFS is launching a couple of new programs that can help you dip your toes in the fostering pool without the long-term commitment; Host Homes and Respite.

Host Homes:

Option 1: SHORT TERM

Our short-term Host Homes program is for youth 12-17 at risk of becoming homeless due to an unsafe or unstable home environment. While the youth stay with a host family for 2-3 weeks, CFS helps facilitate family reunification by providing counseling and other resources. Host Homes for the youngest age group (12-15) must be licensed.

Option 2: LONG TERM

Our long-term Host Homes program is for youth ages 16-21 who are experiencing homelessness and need a stable home environment where they can gain independent living skills and prepare for adulthood. This option is also available to some youth in foster care ages 16-19 who are more independent and need a different type of family setting to continue to grow and learn. CFS will help the youth by providing counseling, case management, and more. The goal is to build permanent connections, self-sufficiency and overall well-being. 


Respite provides an opportunity to offer temporary and occasional relief to a child and the child's current caregiver to support the overall well-being of the family unit, by providing placement in a licensed respite home. Respites can be either planned or emergency placements and can be as brief as just one night.


Providing respite care requires full foster home licensure but the process is expedited through the specific help of the dedicated Respite Program Licensing Worker. Support Groups and Networking Events will occur throughout the year to connect Respite Providers with each other, the agency, and the homes that might have kids placed with them.

CFS provides training, support and financial reimbursement for each these caregiver opportunities.


If you are interested in learning more about either of these programs or other ways you can get involved, please visit

Adolescent Mental Health: Second Semester

With the holiday break completed successfully, kids are back at school and things are getting back to “normal”. Unfortunately for many young people, today’s normal includes levels of anxiety and depression much higher than those of previous generations. These are some ways that parents and other concerned adults can help. 

  • Remember that adolescent brains are focused on creating relationships with peers and others outside of their immediate family. This developmental task builds skills that young people will need to move into adulthood successfully. Guidance, empathy, and flexibility from adults makes it much more likely that young people will talk about their experiences and ask for help if they feel overwhelmed.
  • Remind teenaged students often that grades are not a measure of a person’s value, nor of the possibility of future success. Encourage those who have unlimited access to their grades to avoid checking daily, or even weekly. Help them to advocate for themselves with teachers and other school staff to make sure that they get what they need to meet their own standards of achievement. 

  • Ask what’s going on, even if the answers might be scary. Make sure adolescents know who they can talk to when they don’t know what to do. Say something when you see what might be anxiety or depression, then listen openly without judgment and team up to figure out how to get relief.

Child and Family Services has programs to help adolescents and young adults manage their unique challenges. More information can be found at

Author: Ann Ronayne MS, NCC, LLPC, pictured here with Greta

Join Our Team

CFS is growing! If you are interested in learning more about our current openings please visit here.

Upcoming Events

Foster parents needed! Join us virtually to learn more. Our licensing staff will explain the process of becoming a foster parent and answer any questions you may have. The process is easier than you think. Consider helping today!

Virtual Intro To Fostering Wednesday, February 7th, at 5:45pm or February 21st, at 5:30pm

Click to learn more and register.

Respite Care Provider Orientation

Licensed respite providers needed! Join us virtually to learn more about this short-term foster care option. Our licensing staff will explain the process of becoming a foster parent and answer any questions you may have. The process is easier than you think. Consider helping today!

Virtual Intro To Respite Monday, February 6th at 6pm

Click to learn more and register.

Donate Today

Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan

3785 Veterans Drive, Traverse City | (231) 946-8975

3434 M-119, Ste F, Harbor Springs | (231) 347-4463   | 

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