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Friday, Apr 5, 2013

Felicia: a success story

It takes caring professionals and a loving foster parent to change a young girl’s life forever

After living with her grandmother and father in Buffalo, fourteen year old Felicia was placed into foster care with Berkshire Farm Center in 2010 in the therapeutic foster home of Ms. Shawna Turner. The girl’s grandmother had insisted that Felicia be removed from her home because of uncontrollable behaviors.

Felicia and new MomRosalind Campbell, a Family Specialist with Berkshire Farm Center’s Foster Care Team, immediately went to work and found that Felicia had been diagnosed with Mental Retardation, Bi-polar Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the result of extreme trauma that Felicia had suffered in the past. As Felicia’s behavior worsened, the Foster Care Team determined that the school should not have placed her in a general education setting.

“She was expected to meet the same standards as children without disabilities,” said Ms. Candice O’Brien, a member of the team helping Felicia.

After attending countless meetings and making numerous phone calls to the Committee on Special Education, the team was finally able to have Felicia moved to a special behavioral class where she received more attention and care. Felicia was still expected to meet general education requirements, though, so the team again went to work to have Felicia placed in a more appropriate class, based on her developmental needs.

Today, thanks to the many hours of hard work by Ms. Turner and Berkshire’s Foster Care Team, Felicia is now in a community-based program at her high school. The program stresses daily living skills rather than academics. Felicia learns about meal planning, shopping, budgeting and food preparation. Her class links with the community for internships and jobs; and the opportunities to interact and work with others have increased Felicia’s self-esteem. She is flourishing in her new setting.

Ms. Turner and Barbara Gordon, a Clinician at Berkshire Farm Center, also looked into Felicia’s diagnosis, and they soon discovered that she was being over-medicated. They worked closely with the psychiatrist to develop a better treatment plan that included counseling as well as medication in the proper dosage.

Ms. Turner and Felicia have developed a very close bond and Felicia’s life has made a dramatic change for the better. We are happy to report that, after a very traumatic start to her life, Felicia is finally right where she is supposed to be. On December 7, 2012, Shawna Turner adopted Felicia and they have become a “Forever Family”.

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