Foster Care Children are Making a Difference
Just a few years ago, Katelyn needed help; moving in and out of homes as a foster child, she’d been all over the country and never lived in the same place for more than 7 months.
After landing in the Belleville area in 2008, Katelyn ended up with a Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH) parent therapist and things began to change. “I had created a lot of trouble for myself,” she said recently, reflecting.
Katelyn tried going to school at one of the local high schools, but she “didn’t fit in well with other high school kids”. So she decided to try going to school at Applewood Academy, a private school that’s affiliated with QCH.
“Applewood offers a very tailored learning environment,” said Melissa Hulshof, Program Coordinator at Quinte Children’s Homes. “Most of our kids struggled in the regular school system for one reason or another. Our service model recognizes each individual and gives them the support they need as they grow up; our goal is to give them the skills they need to transition successfully, whether that’s back to the regular school system or on to adulthood.”
It’s a model that worked well for Katelyn, who found she had a lot of holes in her education because she’d moved around so much as a foster child. “The staff-to-kid ratio is pretty high,” she observed. “Fewer students meant we could get a lot more support.”
Now doing some upgrading to prepare for college, Katelyn is also a junior staff person at Applewood and mentoring younger students. “I help kids with their work, and help keep them focused and calm so they can actually do their work,” she explained.
This role with Applewood started off as a co-op position; when she joined the staff last fall she took additional Therapeutic Crisis Intervention training. It’s great prep for a young woman set to start her post-secondary education with the Child Youth Worker program at Loyalist College in September. “I like what I do; I know what it’s like to be [in their place], and I have a lot of patience,” she said.
Katelyn said Loyalist may be just the first piece of her advanced education; she wants to understand people and is considering future studies of women’s psychology and philosophy. “Something has changed in me since I came to QCH,” she said with a shy grin, admitting that she didn’t particularly like kids before. “I don’t know what it is – maybe it’s maturity? I’ve just found that I really like helping people, especially when it’s successful.”