Families for Life – Why all kids need them and how foster parents can help

planTeenagers don’t need families. They don’t even want families.

Really?

Sometimes that’s what people think. And if a teen actually expresses this sentiment, it is tempting to accept their statements at face value. This can lead to tragic consequences for young people in the foster care / group care system.

When young people leave the child welfare system with no family to count on, nobody they know is committed to them forever, the outcomes are grim. High rates of homelessness, unemployment, early parenting – you name it.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you don’t have a family, who teaches you even the most basic life skills? Who explains how to find an apartment, and be a responsible tenant? Who teaches you how to manage money? Or about the importance of brushing your teeth?

Youth in foster care and group care live in an unpredictable world in which they have no say over what happens to them. Strangers make decisions that profoundly impact a young person’s life – judges, social workers, teachers, lawyers, foster parents – people trying to do the right thing but who, at the end of the day, have no long-term commitment to, or responsibility for, the child.

At Plummer Home, we believe that all young people — including teenagers — need permanent families and we place a high priority on making this happen. For that reason, our group care and foster care programs place a high priority on connecting kids with permanent families. To be sure, we spend a lot of time teaching them skills and helping them connect with community — two other things necessary for success – but we never give up on finding family. This is as true for our 13 years olds as it is for our 21 year olds.

If you become a foster parent with Plummer, our goal is that you will be the last foster placement for that child. That doesn’t mean you will provide the child’s permanent home, but is does mean that you believe, as we do, that repeated moves are harmful. And that you will help us achieve the goal of finding a permanent place for your foster child. Our goal is a permanent family, one that doesn’t disappear when a kid turns a certain age. Parents are forever.

To learn more about fostering, call us at 978-935-9555 or visit us at plummerhome.org/fostercare. Your love can make all the difference. Thank you!

Connecting: The Gift of Aaron Katz

connecting

“Music has been my life path since I was very little. To be able to meet a kid that doesn’t have that and then to help them find it and help them find themselves is incredibly rewarding. It’s such a gift.” So says Aaron Katz, Plummer Home and On Point Music Program Leader.

“We are constantly trying different ways to engage our kids” says Executive Director James Lister, “it’s a major component to running a good residential program. Kids come to us with a variety of pasts, and it’s really difficult to engage them and really difficult for them to trust us.”

When I think about Aaron, “I see such a talented musician but also recognize that there’s a lot of talented musicians, and not everyone can engage our kids in a way that Aaron can. And the combination together is very, very powerful.”

One could say that Katz was born with drumsticks in his hands. Both his parents were musicians, his father a drummer and his mother a singer and music therapist. Katz has been playing the drums, teaching himself piano and composing songs for as long as he can remember.

By the time he reached Worcester Academy High School, he was playing in both school and community venues, including his high school jazz band and in orchestra pits for local community musicals. At age 16, Katz secured his first professional paid gig.

Katz received a full music scholarship to the University of New Hampshire. Just one semester short of graduation, the opportunity of a life-time came up and he left college to pursue his dream of being a full-time professional musician writing music and playing drums for his band Percy Hill. Katz played with Percy Hill for over 10 years, touring the country professionally and gaining a large fan base.

State house performance

Katz credits those 10 years on the road as having taught him some valuable life lessons because “once you’ve literally lived in a van with a bunch of musicians you’ve seen just about everything.”

In 2007 Katz started playing with Callie Lipton in a new band called “The Dejas” and he moved to Salem, MA. He put up advertisements that were seen by the Plummer Home program director and Katz was hired part-time to start building a music program.

“It can be very emotional for me to see the kids take music on and become one with it, because it means so much to me,” says Katz.

When asked to think of a word that starts with “C” to conclude our “Key of C” campaign, Katz says “I would definitely say connection, because we’re learning to connect to ourselves, we’re learning to connect to others, we’re learning to connect to something bigger than ourselves, which humbles us and allows us to fully experience the human experience.”

Aaron says working with the kids is like getting a gift. Here at Plummer, we feel like he is the gift.

Please click here to donate to the Plummer Home music program and help some of the most vulnerable kids around receive the gift of music.