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Bringing Joy & Happiness to Over 50 Youth in Care

Joy Pleasants has been fostering with Berkshire since 2016 and based on her latest headcount, she has welcomed over 50 children into her home. Joy, a name that suits her perfectly, was excited to chat about the trials and tribulations of what comes with fostering. She smiles, reflecting on some of the children who walked through her front door.


Pictured: Joy and Freeman Pleasants


Joy is a social worker in Syracuse, New York who has experience working with children and families. She fondly tells us she has a big, blended family of six and has been married now for twenty years. She describes how it was both exciting and sometimes challenging to have a large family while also bringing foster children into her home.


She has continued to create a haven of love and support for youth in care. Among her many moving tales, one stands out vividly: the story of a young teenage girl who was the first child she welcomed into her home – a teammate and friend of Joy’s biological daughter. Joy distinctly remembers Becca’s first day in their home, the uncertainty in her eyes, and the weight of her past clear in her timid steps.


Joy knew that in order to make Becca feel at home, she needed to help create structure - a comfortable routine would make the most sense for their family. Becca’s first meal in the Pleasants’ home was one that Joy knew she’d appreciate. Joy made sure to learn which foods Becca preferred and that’s what was on the table that first night. Becca was thrilled!


Over the next few weeks, Becca started to settle in. They would discuss both Becca’s struggles and accomplishments. Initially, her grades were suffering, and Joy and her husband made an effort to work with her teachers to help Becca progress in school. Soon, her grades were improving.


Becca began blossoming socially, academically and even became a better teammate on her basketball team. After months of progress, she was eventually able to reunify with her family – the ultimate goal when fostering. Joy shares that they still keep in touch and that Becca has thrived since her time in the Pleasants’ home.


As we celebrate Black History Month, we asked Joy about the importance of representation within foster families. Joy explains, “Being culturally competent is huge across the board, whatever culture that is.” While she acknowledges that it might not necessarily be easier when a child is placed with a family that mirrors their own culture, she stresses the heightened sense of relatability that it can bring. She outlines the importance of maintaining a genuine eagerness to continually learn, being purposeful in one's efforts, and setting aside any pride that might hinder seeking assistance.


Joy Pleasants epitomizes the dedication and compassion that foster parents bring to their invaluable role in providing love and support to children in care. Through her experiences and unwavering commitment, she has not only transformed the lives of over 50 children but also exemplified the importance of cultural competence and continuous learning within foster care. Joy's inspiring journey, marked by triumphs and challenges, underscores the profound impact that nurturing environments and dedicated caregivers can have on the lives of youth. As we reflect on her story, we celebrate Joy and all foster parents like her, whose selfless dedication enriches the lives of countless children and strengthens our communities.

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