Foster Team Makes Graduation Dream Come True
If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly helps for the village to have a Chikiya “CeCe” Jones.
Chikiya, a family stabilization specialist at Little City, plays an essential role in the foster care program, making sure children adjust to their new families, stay on track and are equipped for the future. It’s an incredibly difficult job with the potential for extraordinary accomplishments.
One of Chikiya’s most rewarding experiences happened this spring when Kiara walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma. Kiara switched foster families in her senior year, was on the brink of expulsion with just weeks to go and trying to raise her three-year-old daughter. And she made it across the stage.
“It was beyond rewarding. I was crying I was so proud. My heart was overjoyed,” Chikiya said. “There were times I wanted to pull my hair out, but it’s always worth it.”
Kiara’s path to graduation was a bumpy one, but not without support. Kiara not only had to learn to be a mother, but she had to overcome her own developmental disability that made it more difficult to keep up with classmates. She also had to learn to regulate and control emotional responses.
The key point in her ultimate success came when Chikiya helped facilitate an emergency placement for Kiara during the school year to a new foster family while also convincing her the best option would be to let her three-year-old stay with the previous foster family while she focused on graduating.
Though Kiara fought the idea at first, Chikiya said it has developed into a great situation. Kiara has increased confidence and self-esteem after graduating and she regularly visits her child while now focusing on the skills she needs to be a mother, how to budget and other essential skills for a successful future.
Chikiya said the mutual agreement between Kiara and her child’s foster family is on a yearly basis and will be revisited in April. Until then, Chikiya said she sees Kiara continuing to grow as an active and engaged mother.
“We give her the tools, but she has to use them and she has,” Chikiya said. “You can see that Kiara has more self-esteem knowing she overcame against all odds.”