Voices of QPI

We are proud of the many QPI sites and advocates who are working to ensure excellent parenting every day for every child!

QPI has truly transformed my views of child welfare system and the way I support families and kids.

Kathy Duffy, QPI Champion, Minnesota

[This past year] has been a wonderful year because, even with all the difficulties, we have expanded our work, made more connections, QPI has grown and it is now a key element of our system of care.

Carlos Perdomo, QPI Champion, Miami, Florida
Jerra Wisecup, Licensing and Caregiver Support Specialist, Communities Connected for Kids, South Florida

Jerra always goes the extra mile, even in the midst of a pandemic. Jerra works tirelessly to help encourage strong partnerships within the many different facets of our child welfare community. She is always an advocate for the positive impact the Quality Parenting Initiative can have on the children in care. Not only does she understand how it affects the children in care, she also helps others understand how it can affect the foster, adoptive, and biological families involved, as well. She is always ready to share her enthusiasm with everyone willing to listen. 

-Jamie F., Florida
Tia & Jacques Duplantis, Foster Parents, Thibodaux Region, LA

Tia and Jacques Duplantis of Thibodaux Region are open and welcoming towards the biological family of their 1-year-old foster child. They go above and beyond with encouraging and assisting the parents. When the child needed surgery and the hospital only allowed one adult due to Covid-19, they successfully advocated for special permission for a second adult so the mother could be present. Mr. and Mrs. Duplantis make time for phone calls with the parents and extended family, including grandmother and siblings. They sit with the mother waiting for court hearings. They are open to working with the agency towards the best interests of the child, including permanency or a potential transition to biological family.

– Lauren M., Louisiana
Kate Rickord, Senior Director of Treatment and Foster Care, St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development, Minnesota

Kate has been instrumental in bringing QPI alive in Minnesota. She has been diligent in reaching out to potential partners in our state, introducing QPI principles and inviting us to join QPI in MN. We now have a strong and passionate MN Champion Cohort who will partner with the existing MN QPI steering committee to continue the commitment to excellent parenting. Kate was also instrumental in the recent passage of state legislation regarding “Comfort Calls,” to establish an early connection between the birth and foster family. Comfort calls are meant to address early stage difficulties for children/youth and their birth and foster families, increasing partnership so that the child is the focal point of support. 

– Diane S., Minnesota

“Yvonne [Teitz] is nothing short of AMAZING. She sees our children and families from a strength-based, trauma-informed lens and seeks a co-parenting relationship with parents whenever possible, even hosting overnight visits in her home. As one example, Yvonne helped heal a difficult sibling relationship in a creative way after a sister lashed out at her brother and said hurtful things. Yvonne helped the siblings write a letter expressing the negative experiences and feelings that caused the sister to take out her anger on her brother, then the siblings and Yvonne burned the letter in the backyard. As a family they sat up late eating homemade cookies and processing the experience. The only thing Yvonne asks from our youth is progression, not perfection.” 

– Shelley, Ventura CA
Tyler Groll & Christopher Weiss, Foster Fathers
Philadelphia, PA

Tyler and Christopher are resource parents who were certified in February 2020 and received J. (2 y/o) into their home in April of this year, becoming first-time parents at the beginning of the pandemic. They have been great resource parents, very communicative, very caring for J. and making sure he has activities to do. These parents have been extraordinary in ensuring that J’s biological mother has consistent contact with her child, and they’ve found creative ways to nurture engagement and connection virtually. Not only have these parents been a support for J., they have remained flexible and support the entire workings of the case.

-Naderra P., Philadelphia, PA
Whitney Vasquez, Human Service Caseworker, Washoe County Human Services

Whitney advocated tirelessly with the State of Hawaii over a period of 18 months to approve an ICPC allowing a child with significant special needs to be placed with her siblings and extended family in Hawaii, instead of remaining in residential care in Nevada. As a result of her needs, the State of Hawaii initially denied the ICPC request, which resulted in the child’s separation from her closely bonded siblings. Whitney continuously met with HI social workers and facilitated multiple large team meetings to advocate for placement in the aunt’s home. She spent countless hours with the HI social workers reviewing, explaining, sending and resending records regarding the child’s extensive medical needs, and explaining how those needs could reasonably be met in the family home. She also coached the family through participating in the ICPC process, and has worked to keep the family connected with the child on an almost daily basis while they remain separated. Whitney also advocated with the court, who suggested that Washoe County Human Services Agency reconsider the child’s permanency plan. COVID posed a huge barrier due to reduction in staff and in-person contacts. Despite this, Whitney continued to reach out for updates as to the progress until placement was finally approved. This will be the child’s path out of residential care and into her permanent home with family. Without her dedication it is likely this child would have remained in Nevada. Placed in a residential facility. Away from her siblings. Separated from her family.

-Kimberly M., Washoe, NV

Emily Manning, Foster Family Support Specialist, Northwest Florida Health Network

Emily is always using her counseling background to provide safe spaces for our foster families to process information and get advice. During the pandemic, she has used her talent of developing deep relationships and promoting connection to create online neighborhood support groups for our families. Each group met once a month and provided a way for foster families who live physically close to get to know each other on a virtual platform. Each month has a different topic. The most popular by far was October’s topic on grief. The unique ways foster parents grieve were elevated and legitimized. Multiple families reached out to me after that group meeting to say how much it had impacted them to meet and talk with people who understood the grief they were facing. During this time of isolation, Emily stepped up to create warm, caring environments to help foster families feel valued and connected.

-Calyn S., Tallahassee, FL

“Twice a month, on a Saturday morning and a Monday night, Andrea or Anne hosts virtual resource parent support groups and Myles or Justin takes care of the Zoom technology. Each meeting has at least 20 families represented. Most recently, 60 families attended a session celebrating Adoption Month. The families love the supportive atmosphere where they can share and be heard. Families have begun to develop relationships with one another, as they have also strengthened their relationship to Turning Points [the agency]. Families have helped one another by sharing resources, experiences, and expertise. During one session, a family offered to meet virtually with a grandmother to assist her in navigating the home schooling technology. Others have offered support and advice regarding relationships with birth families and managing adolescent behaviors. This is an initiative that we can be proud of now and in the days ahead.”

– Deborah C., Philadelphia, PA

“Ms. Jones is an aunt and kinship caregiver to J. Ms. Jones and Mr. Hines have gone above and beyond to be a great resource to J. over the past year. They did not hesitate to take in J, but also to include his siblings. Ms. Jones has been the glue to keep the family together for the sake of the children over many hardships. A couple of months ago, J lost his brother in a tragic accident. The incident crushed the family. Ms. Jones was very supportive and very proactive in providing J with the support he needed to cope with the loss of his brother. She took time off work to focus on J’s emotional needs and reached out to different agencies for grief counseling. This time of grief was amplified by the stress of the pandemic, but Ms. Jones provided exceptional care nonetheless. Resource parent support staff look to Ms. Jones as an inspiration for ‘why we do what we do.'” 

When it comes to the complexities of kinship care, Ms. Jones said, “I live every day like it’s the first day. I don’t hold any grudges. I believe it takes a village, and I’m willing to be a part of anybody’s village because I have a lot of love to give.”

– Michelle B., Philadelphia, PA

Woman holding small girl

Kayonna has been a foster parent in Leon County and is a model for excellent partnership. [She] fully understands how truly important it is that a foster child maintains a strong connection to their biological family.  She goes above and beyond in ensuring that a biological parent has quality time with their child.

Mary J., Foster Family Support Specialist, Tallahassee, Florida
Gregory and Barbara

Gregory & Barbara expressed a belief that it takes more than just one person to raise a child and want to be active in helping raise a child, whether it’s their own, a family or friends, or a foster child. Our team has experienced over and over again the commitment that they have to our foster youth and families.

Kate R., St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development, Minnetonka, Minnesota

I have been participating in the QPI webinars since you started them during the pandemic. I was connected to your organization through First3Years based out of Dallas, Texas. The webinars have helped me provide our parents with practical advice to virtually connect with their children that are in foster care and utilize the caregivers as resources. A huge THANK YOU for the webinars and this [virtual] conference. 🙂

Tamisha L., May 2020

[QPI has] deepened my insight on the importance of building positive relationship with families. I realize the great rewards of this success and knowing that I played a small part. This goes really beyond a working relationship, it is ministry

Joan C., Child Welfare Supervisor, Amite, Louisiana

With one of my foster homes, feeling accepted was I’d come into the home and immediately get introduced to the rest of the family…We would go out with the entire family on trips, and they wouldn’t refer to me as their foster daughter. But ‘This is my daughter. This is my family. I take care of her; I love her unconditionally

Katrina, California Youth Connection

Yolanda went to last year’s QPI conference and was bitten by the bug. She really emphasizes with her whole team the QPI philosophy.

Denise P. Las Vegas, Nevada

[In the beginning] we were not buddies. We had some ups and downs…made us grow when we kept at the relationship. Sarah was such an advocate for me. We we’re going to make it happen

Corinna, Birth Parent Sarah, Foster Parent, Pensacola, Florida

As a juvenile court judge, I am already seeing the difference QPI makes as foster parents come into my courtroom.  When they are treated as partners with staff, it enhances the quality of care for our foster children.”

Judge Blair Edwards 21st Judicial District, Louisiana

And so when we talk about love and empathy, simple things like hanging the art work on the refrigerator or hanging portraits, that is an expression of love and care and empathy and that inclusivity that I was craving at that time in my life, where it was a validation that we are a family unit and everyone together, we are together. The portraits on the wall always stuck out to me… those small gestures go a long way.

Vanessa, California Youth Connection

Taylor and Bobby Peck were licensed in 2018 as foster parents and have been the epitome of partnership from Day One. Their first placement was a 4-year-old girl whose parents were not from the United States. Despite the language barrier, they immediately engaged with her dad. They used Google Translate to communicate and walked through difficult conversations with both candor and grace.

Calyn S., Tallahassee, Florida

The clearly defined roles and open communication has made a world of difference in how parents view our agency. Having the freedom to communicate openly and effectively with all involved parties has made the process as a whole so much better for everyone.

Nicole H., Home Development Specialist, Covington, Louisiana

I listened to his Dad and Grandma describing with joy the simple way he shows his independence and how he’s piecing words together… a feeling of gratitude and peace took hold of me and once again, I was reminded why I said yes.

Molly C ., Foster Parent, Tallahassee, Florida

I have a QPI mindset… It has made me become very passionate about making a difference in the lives of families.  I really love everything about QPI.

Jennifer J., Foster Parent Mentor Specialist Panama City, Florida

Lindsey has been a Peer Parent Partner since April 2017, and since then she has doubled the capacity of the Peer Parent Partner program and worked with over 60 families in the Santa Maria/Lompoc communities to support, encourage and mentor them as they navigate the CWS system.

Lindsey D., Peer Parent Partner, Santa Barbara County, California

We embrace QPI’s vision of excellent parenting for all children. We are working hard to engage families of origin and resource parents collectively to ensure that children grow up loved and safe. DHS is committed to continuing its leadership of positive system changes initiated by Philadelphia QPI.

Cynthia Figueroa, Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Human Services

QPI has given foster parents a voice in a very difficult system. It has allowed for foster parents to realize they can ask for change to help children and be supported and heard in the requests.

Ashley A., Statewide Foster Parent Support Specialist Rockford, Illinois

I have been advocating for resource families since 1988 in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. We were helping one family at a time. Changing child welfare practice was something we hoped for, but never thought we would see in our lifetime. That dream has become reality because of QPI.

Phyllis S., Adoptive Parent Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It’s been amazing.  Any and everything I ever wanted as a biological parent and now as a parent mentor, everything I ever wanted in a system change, was wrapped up in QPI.

Tiffany C., Parent Mentor, Lafayette, Louisiana

Sharing my story is a huge part of bringing perspective to families about what to expect and what the process is like. They see diversity, options, and that it’s all about loving that child.

Matt P., Santa Barbara, California

Chastity steps outside of herself and sets aside her own needs on a daily basis to teach, mentor, advocate, encourage and support foster youth (and any youth in need) in our community.

Amanda, Santa Barbara, CA

Andrew H. with Hope Fort Worth has made a life-long impact on our family. Without his efforts to advocate for older children and sibling groups in the foster system we would not have been led to adopt our teenage son as well as our sibling boys.

Julia P., Foster Parent, Fort Worth, Texas

Justice for children and youth is in the moment-to-moment unconditional love they receive. System transformation occurs when we prioritize the roots they need to grow and the wings they need to fly.”

Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director, Youth Law Center

More than any other player, the Youth Law Center has changed the way we think about our function. They focused on trying to look at children’s services system through the eyes of children themselves… and reframing the value set.

Will Lightbourne, Director California Department of Social Services

We must change practice and policy so that everything we do reflects our mission to provide quality care and a better life for children and youth in the foster care and juvenile justice system.

Carole Shauffer, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives, Youth Law Center/QPI