Frontline Worker Spotlight - Linda Harrod
Finding and supporting people who want to be foster parents is a challenge. It requires an understanding of the child welfare system and empathy for children who, through no fault of their own, are not safe in their own homes. Mostly, these children are kids past the age of infant cuteness. Community Care Alliance is lucky to have Linda Harrod who has lived experience as a foster parent and is so passionate about connecting with foster parents on a very personal level and helping vulnerable children.
Linda says she doesn’t view her work as a job... but more as a journey. “I enjoy my position immensely and feel that I am here to help children and families stay safe, and I am here to help couples that may want to increase their family through foster care and adoption.”
Her career is really a continuation of her own years as a foster parent, and a way to impart the wisdom that is gained from experience. “I became a foster parent because I wanted to add to my family. Over a period of 10 years my husband and I have had the pleasure of fostering 17 children and adopting 7. This was more than we had agreed to at the beginning when we had thought we would adopt two! After we made the decision that our home was full and we would not be adopting anymore, I decided to go back to school to get my degree in Social Work with the goal to work with children and families involved in the Child Welfare System.
Mark Cote, Director of Child Welfare, uses the word devotion to describe Linda. “Linda often works around the clock to ensure that kids have a safe place to rest their heads and that the families that bring them into their homes feel supported. It is rare to find an employee that works as hard as she does to support a mission that is meaningful to her both professionally and personally.”
Linda says that “Every day, whatever I do involves children, their families and keeping them safe. Some days I am working with the potential foster parents; writing their home study, training them to be foster parents to some of the state’s most vulnerable children. Other days I am collaborating with DCYF and other providers, making some important decisions in regards to the children that are placed in one of our foster homes.”
“With the COVID pandemic it has been even more of a challenge. We have had to think outside the box on ways that we can interact with the children through Zoom—playing games, coloring, reading a story.”
“I have always valued life and treasure every day that I am here, and try to make the most of it. Since the pandemic, I have made an effort to help children and adults appreciate each and every day and make the most of it, since life is not guaranteed.”
Over the years, a few families stand out. “I met a couple through Foster Parenting classes that I was co-teaching, and they had three boys and wanted to foster a girl with the hope of eventually adopting her. I spent a lot of time with this family while they fostered one child and that child went home. Then another little girl was placed with them. In the end, they adopted her and she is the sparkle in the entire family’s eye. I don’t think that I have ever seen anyone so loved and adored. It was dream come true for them and for her— she has a family that will forever love her and keep her safe.”
Another time, we had two siblings that were placed in two of our foster homes because neither foster home had enough room for both of the children. The two foster parents helped the children stay connected through visits and phone calls between the siblings. Over a year ago, the children were reunified with their Dad, and the two foster parents have maintained connections with the Dad and have seen the children. This was a win, win situation for all. “Helping children stay safe and finding permanency for our children is most important. Permanency can be reunification with parents or it can be permanency with a relative or an adoptive parent.“
“I love my position and it doesn’t seem like work to me. The one reason that I can do what I do and not feel guilty of the time that it takes is that I have a supportive husband and family. They understand the importance of what I do on a daily basis. Also, I could not do this work without the Therapeutic Foster Care team at Community Care Alliance.”
According to Mark Cote, “Her years of experience have given her a depth and breadth of knowledge that has aided in supporting clients, families, and staff through the complex world of children living in foster situations. Linda’s devotion towards the foster world is unmatched and admirable. She works endlessly to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of any child or family that she works with.”
What we know is that there are many children who have benefited from Linda’s loving devotion.