This month we bring you:
- Supporting Families After Their Child Returns Home
- PKF Family Assistance Program
SUPPORTING FAMILIES AFTER THEIR CHILD RETURNS HOME
Long-time volunteer Susan Coolidge specializes in following-up with families after their recovered missing child has returned home.
Susan is active in the Petaluma, CA community, and has volunteered here at our office since the Fall of 1998. She brought with her over 20 years’ experience as a classroom teacher and agency administrator serving high risk children and their families. Her knowledge and experience has been an enormous asset to PKF.
When she first started volunteering she went through a special training program for caseworkers. She became part of our team. For a number of years she took incoming calls from families whose children had gone missing, and counseled them on ways to search for their children.
Talking with Families
Susan began specializing in following up with families after their recovered missing child is returned home.
Susan logs into the PKF case management system to see which cases are scheduled for follow-up calls. Before making a call, she reviews the case information to become familiar with the missing child, the circumstances of the child’s disappearance, and the family unit.
She’ll ask a parent how the recovered child is doing, whether the child is back in school, how the brothers & sisters are doing, and how the family is functioning. Many times she speaks with grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
PKF Response Department Director Cindy Rudometkin states “Susan truly cares about how each family is doing. She wants to hear what they have to say. She willingly spends as much time on the phone with each family as they need.” If further follow-up calls could be useful, Susan schedules them. She’ll maintain the relationship with a family as long as it is needed.
Susan listens, helps families with their own experiences when the crisis is over, and provides them with tools & referrals to help the family recover. She also reminds them they can call PKF at any time to speak with a caseworker.
Often new details about the child’s circumstances may be shared, that were forgotten during the crisis. What she learns is often helpful to fellow caseworkers and other families who will need our help in the future. If a family is having difficulties, or counseling is needed, Susan offers PKF’s services to find services in their community.
Often parents become a resource for other parents. Perhaps they make suggestions and observations which Susan can pass on to our caseworkers. Or, the parents might be interested in helping families who find themselves in similar circumstances. Those parents are given assistance in finding volunteer opportunities.
Most of our cases are children who have runaway. They may be feeling the stress of major changes in their own or their family’s lives. Perhaps a parent has changed jobs, or the family has moved to a new State.
Susan shares her observations that 15 year olds are at a very tender age. In addition to their personal situations, the news media & reality TV shows are rewarding impulsive behaviors. With 24/7 news coverage & the Internet, news stories around the world are bombarding all of us—the immense problems of that bigger world can come pouring in on these teens and make them feel overwhelmed.
Why Susan Volunteers
During her calls Susan is very present and focused on the welfare of each family, providing what comfort she can. “I do the best I can every day when I am with them.”
She likes creating relationships to help families solve their problems. She says, “This is the one thing we can do” with each person we meet. And, now that the families are out of crisis, they can tell their stories in more depth as she listens carefully, helping them figure out what led to their crisis
Susan always reminds each family that they can call the Polly Klaas Foundation at any time. Families are supported for as long as needed.
Susan Coolidge has been an integral part of our team for many years. Her contributions are immeasurable. She truly cares about our families, and listens with caring integrity to each person she talks with. Our families are better for having talked with her, and so are we. We are grateful for her kind and gentle presence on our team.
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About Polly Klaas® Foundation
The Polly Klaas® Foundation is a national nonprofit dedicated to the safety of all children, the recovery of missing children, and public policies that keep children safe in their communities.
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