Supporting foster children and foster families during difficult times
By Katie Chatham
Candace Lea specializes in supporting people. Radiating warmth and kindness, Candace is the Program Manager for Catholic Charities’ Therapeutic Foster Care Program—work that is close to her heart.
Candace was nearly placed in the foster care system, herself. Her mother raised her as long as she could, but when unfortunate circumstances rendered her unable, Candace’s grandmother stepped in to care for her, for which Candace feels very lucky. Candace was young and her grandmother was in her sixties.
“She really took me under her wing and helped me through some dark times in my life,” Candace said. “I persevered throughout my teens, but my twenties were a hard time.”
These hardships and triumphs led Candace to her work with Catholic Charities. She spends her days helping to bring warmth and recovery to an often dark and difficult area in people’s lives. Candace noted that foster care has many challenges, adding, “I want to help break the cycle of abuse and trauma for these kids and provide them with a safe environment. I also want the foster families to feel supported and equipped to do the same.”
Candace oversees homes in the regular foster care system and the therapeutic foster care system. Kids placed in therapeutic foster care are typically those who have experienced trauma. Therefore, they’re sometimes the kids who act out, and with this being the case, Candace oversees specially trained clinical therapists who support the families taking these kids in. She also works with the families to give them specialized skills so that they are equipped to give kids the most support until they can return home to their parents or be adopted.
In addition to specialized training for families and staff, Candace also has a hand in developing fun activities for the kids. In the works now: a Summer Day Camp, set to begin June. It will feature activities including cooking classes, outdoor activities, yoga, and therapeutic services for trauma. Current and former foster kids are invited to attend.
“Often in the summer there isn’t much for the foster kids to do activity-wise, so this is going to be a really beneficial time for everyone,” Candace said.
For more information about Catholic Charities, foster care, or the upcoming Day Camp in June and how to volunteer, please contact Candace Lea at clea@Cc-Az.org or 480.599.1857.