A Backpack Full of Hope

Jun 19, 2024 - In the News, Foster Care and Adoption


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Children in foster care often have different or more significant sensory needs from their peers because of their traumatic experiences. When developing bodies and brains learn to be on high alert for danger, simple things like loud noises, bright lights or certain textures can feel overwhelming or scary. Understanding children’s unique sensory needs helps parents, teachers and professionals create a calmer, safer environment as they help kids increase their window of tolerance.

Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses empowering principles to address physical needs, connecting principles to address relational needs, and correcting principles to disarm fear-based behaviors.* The foundational work for TBRI® began with Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross and continues through the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD) at Texas Christian University. The KPICD initiated PCHAS as a TBRI® Ambassador Organization in January. “For over a decade, PCHAS has used TBRI® as our model of caregiving and has implemented its strategies in a variety of contexts,” said Justin Hentschel, PCHAS Training Specialist and TBRI® Practitioner and Mentor.

Foster and adoptive families provide a safe, loving, nurturing family for children when they cannot be with their birth parents, family or close friends. These selfless volunteers open their homes and hearts and provide much more than food, clothing and shelter. PCHAS families commit to helping kids begin healing from trauma through safe and trusting relationships.

Our friends at ChristChurch Presbyterian wanted to support foster and adoptive families and recently asked how they could help. Our Foster Care & Adoption teams serve many children with sensory processing disorders and needs. TBRI® is rooted in science and practical in implementation, so our case managers know sensory needs exist and how to help families help kids. We shared a list of sensory tools that would help our families and staff put some of the Empowering Principles into action, and the congregation’s response far exceeded our expectations.

Stephanie Barron, PCHAS Foster Care & Adoption Program Director for our team in Cypress, TX, provided the church with a list of items, including:

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“ChristChurch gathered the items and put together fifteen backpacks. Each backpack had EVERYTHING on the list. Boy, did they deliver!” said Barron. “Right away, we delivered the first backpack to a foster family. Their case manager explored the items with the parents and explained how different tools may help their child calm, regulate or focus.”

Another family will soon welcome a child with known exceptional sensory needs, and we are thrilled to have a sensory bag ready to help them from the start. It may look like a bunch of toys and games, but to parents of kids with sensory needs, it is a backpack full of hope.

We are grateful for the church’s generosity and pleased to offer families practical tools to help them guide their children toward healing. We often tell new families we will customize a plan to support and care for their family, and they’ll have access to the experts they need 24/7. Partnering the knowledge of TBRI® with the generosity and legwork of ChristChurch makes it possible for PCHAS to deliver on this promise and help families give kids in care exactly what they need.

Is there a tender spot in your heart for kids in foster care? You can become family for children who need one and help them heal. Connect with a PCHAS Foster Care & Adoption Guide at (281) 324-0544 or Join an Online Info Session to learn more.

PCHAS provides Christ-centered care and support to children and families in Texas, Missouri and Louisiana. If you, your church or your community group want to help, our Guides will be happy to connect you with the right person on our team.

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