Children come to foster care from all walks of life and every community. Most enter foster care due to abuse or neglect, while others exhibit behavioral disorders. As a foster care provider, Saint Francis strives to keep sibling groups together and in their home community. If possible, we place them with family members. Yet sometimes that’s not possible. Still, whatever the child’s story, foster care is and should always remain a last resort.

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There’s the family you were born into and the family you choose. John Arellano, JP, has both. One of Saint Francis Ministries’ longest serving foster parents, he’s built his family by becoming family to many of the 175 boys he’s fostered since 1999. And he’s done it as a single parent, most recently by working full-time as a truant officer for the Garden City, Kansas, school district and at his local YMCA.

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Throughout October our IT department has talked about cybersecurity. For Saint Francis Ministries – as for any child welfare agency – cybersecurity is essential. An important part of our care for the children and families we serve involves the protection of their privacy. This includes their medical and treatment information, as well as their case files. In most cases, it also involves their identities.

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Leadership development is important for the success of any organization, and at Saint Francis we believe that when a leader gets better, everybody wins. So, in the quest for excellence, we have built our own leader development program. The Saint Francis Ministries Leadership Center (SFMLC) was created to build solid leaders who function confidently and competently in an unpredictable world.

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It’s probably no coincidence that Bullying Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness occur within the same month. Both address assaults on human dignity. Both also have the capacity to inflict multiple types of trauma on the most vulnerable among us, particularly children and women. And since Saint Francis Ministries works hard to be fully trauma-informed, and since most of the people with whom we work are dealing with some form of trauma, we make a point to raise awareness about both bullying and domestic violence.

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Truth be told, most of us have probably experienced bullying in some form. It’s virtually impossible to escape middle or high school without becoming the focus of a bully at some point. It might come in the form of a verbal put-down, an act of physical aggression, or even a social media post.

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Run a quick Google search of “Saint Francis” or “St. Francis,” and look at the results. Odds are, you’ll see loads of links to churches, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, and others than have the 13th century Italian mystic as their namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. Why? What is it about him that inspires so many to consider Il Poverello (Italian for “the little poor one) both patron and model?

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We may be winding down our month-long celebration of child welfare workers, but we’ll never tire of thanking those who work so hard to secure the safety of children and to help families heal and regain wholeness. Child Welfare Workforce Development Month may come once a year, but the mission continues year-round.

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