E-news from The Baby Fold

Heroes Among Us: The Impact of Foster Families

parent and child playing

Children deserve safe and supportive homes, with love and encouragement from caring adults.

At The Baby Fold, our foster families are the real heroes in the lives of children from hard places. They create secure and supportive temporary homes for vulnerable children at their greatest time of need. Foster families may not be wealthy in terms of material possessions, but they are abundantly rich in qualities that matter most to hurting children—consistency, empathy, and love.

A teen currently placed in the home of a Baby Fold foster family shares:

"It wasn’t easy entering the system, especially as a pre-teen with a rough past. My current foster mom, though, has been the mother figure I needed in my life. She accepted me for me and genuinely loves me. She has just been there for me through everything. She’s gone above and beyond for me, even taking in my siblings when she didn’t have to. She loved me unconditionally when she didn’t have to. Most importantly she understood me. Because of her, I believe there is hope."

Throughout Illinois, 19,272 youth are living in foster care. The Baby Fold typically serves around 110 foster children, but the need is ever-growing. There are currently 167 foster children in our care, with more waiting. That’s more than ever before. 

Every child deserves to be loved and protected. Will you be their hero?

Learn More about Becoming a Foster Parent
Support a Child in Foster Care

The Baby Fold's Center of Excellence Hosts The Theraplay Institute

training session on Theraplay

The Baby Fold recently collaborated with Brightpoint (formerly Children’s Home and Aid) to bring national experts from The Theraplay Institute to The Baby Fold's new Center of Excellence. Officially opened last month in Bloomington, this training center allows The Baby Fold to provide trauma-informed trainings, including Theraplay, to a broader audience.

Theraplay is a type of child and family therapy that uses structured play activities to build attachment, trust, and joy between children and their parents or caregivers. It helps improve children's emotional and behavioral skills by encouraging healthy, playful interactions that boost self-esteem and secure relationships.

Theraplay is incorporated into several programs across The Baby Fold, including Adoption Support and Preservation, Foster Care, Healthy Start, Intact Family Services, and Respite Care. Even Hammitt Schools utilizes this therapy to help children develop healthy emotions and relationships.

Collaborations like this one with Brightpoint allow for amazing training opportunities for therapists and caregivers alike. The ultimate result is stronger parent-child connections and more secure, happy families across Central Illinois.

Thank you to Wm. Masters, Inc. for providing labor and supplies to help transform the Center of Excellence into the amazing space that it is today.

We appreciate the support of Wm. Masters, Inc., Sylvester Family Dental, Cumulus Radio Bloomington, CEFCU, and other community partners for investing in the lives of local kids and families by sponsoring The Baby Fold's Festival of Trees.

Baby Fold Staff Earn National Car Seat Safety Certification

Rachel Arbuckle and Dree Carr

To help ensure the safety of The Baby Fold’s youngest clients, several staff members recently became certified Car Seat Technicians. This prestigious National Child Passenger Safety Certification, awarded by Safe Kids Worldwide, empowers The Baby Fold to broaden its educational outreach on child passenger safety and conduct thorough car seat safety inspections.

Rachel Arbuckle, Foster Care Manager, recently earned her certification. “In child welfare, we often are required to discuss car seat safety with birth families and foster parents,” Arbuckle explained. “This will allow us to have technicians on staff who can provide training directly to families and foster parents whenever needed.”

Dree Carr and Cecelia Steinbacher-Kemp from The Baby Fold’s Foster Care team also completed the training alongside Magdalena Granados from Healthy Start. Brittany Tweedt, licensing worker in Foster Care, was already certified.

The certification process is rigorous. The team members worked through several online training modules, tackled assessments, and completed in-person training with additional testing. The final certification step included an onsite skills assessment during an active community car seat check event. 

With a deeper understanding of child passenger safety, The Baby Fold is equipped to host car seat check events, a service that will not only benefit our own families, but also the broader community.

The Baby Fold's Community Schools Program Creates Community Connections

Cedar Ridge Elementary School Unveils Basketball Camp

A student gets tips on shooting a basket

Cindy Rodgers, The Baby Fold's Community Schools Coordinator, was instrumental in creating a Basketball Skills Camp at Cedar Ridge Elementary School. The camp's vision was created during a conversation between Rodgers and a parent, who later became the head coach.

As excitement about the camp soon spread, several teachers signed up to help as assistant coaches. Rodgers collaborated with local travel basketball team, Royalty Hoops, to provide additional mentorship to students. Remarkably, camp attendance doubled from fall to spring.

The camp is more than just basketball, with students benefiting from socialization, skill-building, and stress reduction. It's especially important for Cedar Ridge, as the home school for Unit 5's bilingual program, fostering inclusivity and helping to bridge language barriers among students.

And the excitement doesn't end with the school year. To nurture lasting connections forged during camp, the head coach is hosting open gym sessions throughout the summer, providing students with continued opportunities for growth and camaraderie.

A student gets help dribbling a basketball
Students listen to the head coach of basketball skills camp

Fairview Elementary School Spreads Joy for May Day

Pink unicorn poses while students deliver flowers to neighbors

Students at Fairview Elementary School recently connected with the community as they celebrated May Day. The Fairview Falcons walked through the neighborhood delivering flowers and smiles to their neighbors.

A team of unicorns accompanied the students throughout the neighborhood. The Baby Fold's Lead Community Schools Coordinator, Rebecca Kinsey, adorned the pink unicorn costume, alongside Principal Amanda Styck and Secretary Angelica Earle as the orange and white unicorns. School Resource Officer, Isaiah Williamson from the Normal Police Department, joined in on the fun with Nurse Jill Deacon as unicorn security.

After flowers were delivered, students enjoyed unicorn dance parties and prizes to celebrate positive behavior choices.

School resource officer and two unicorns
Three unicorns and unicorn security

Healthy Start Gathering Celebrates Parenting

Healthy Start in McLean County celebrated families during their annual Parent Appreciation event earlier this month. The parents and children gathered at Anderson Park to enjoy dinner and family fun. They strengthened their bonds and created lasting memories as they painted pottery masterpieces together. Each child also left with a free book to enjoy at home!

child painting pottery
parent and children painting pottery
young girl poses with her painted mug

Hatching Chicks at Hammitt School

Students at Hammitt School on Willow had fun this month as they monitored eggs and watched baby chicks emerge! The students learned about the egg-hatching process as well as how to properly hold and care for their new feathered friends.

As the eight little chicks headed off to a local farm, these students joined a flock of hundreds of previous students who also helped with hatchings. Classrooms at Hammitt Schools have been monitoring eggs and snuggling baby chicks for over 20 years.

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