NTF-Jacksonville Foster Caregiver’s Extraordinary Act

Aida Seeraj (l) and Jamie Akins (r) present Ann Lisk with NTF’s President’s Award.

A report from NTF-Jacksonville Executive Director Aida Seeraj about one of her foster caregivers, Ms. Ann Lisk.

Ann Lisk and her husband joined the NTF-Daytona team in 2007 as foster caregivers focused on keeping large sibling groups together. In 2011, the couple moved to the Jacksonville area and joined the NTF-Jacksonville team to continue their mission.

During their foster parenting tenure, Ms. Lisk and Mr. Polczynski have cared for numerous sibling groups and hundreds of children.  They exemplify the heart and soul of the quality parenting initiative, engaging every parent, relative caregiver, prospective adoptive parents, and/or service providers involved with the children in their care, while working closely with the case management team for the best interest of the children.

Mrs. Lisk’s Extraordinary Involvement on the O Family Case:

On 03/15/2017, NTF-Jacksonville was assigned a family after the children’s removal on 03/14/2017.  The mother (Ms. O.) had been a children’s medical services foster parent for children for many years and ultimately adopted three children that had been in her care.  In March 2017, Ms. O was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and her health was quickly deteriorating.  Her three children, ages 17,15, and 8, also have their own medical needs.  Due to the mother’s declining health, she was unable to care for them  without assistance.

On 03/23/2017,Ms. Lisk was contacted about taking the children into her home.  She heard the sensitive nature and details of the case and asked if she could move into the O family home (1) to ensure that she is able to speak with and help the mother with all of the children’s complicated medical needs, and (2) to ensure that the mother and children remain together while the family is going through this very difficult time.

On  03/23/2017, after getting the Department of Children and Families, Family Support Services of North Florida, Children’s Legal Services, and NTF–Jacksonville’s leadership team involved, the NTF team was granted the opportunity to set up the wraparound support services needed for the children while allowing the mother to still have the children in her home by her side.

On 03/24/2017 Ms. Lisk moved into the O family home. She not only cared for the children’s special needs, but also assisted the mother with her own medical needs.  Ms. Lisk contacted the Case Management Team several times a day providing updates and helping facilitate conversations and even Family Team Meetings with the mother’s Living Will Attorney, family, family supports, and prospective guardians to the children.  The NTF-Jacksonville Case Management Team and Ms. Lisk were instrumental in preparing the family for the mother’s impending death, the children’s continuation of medical and educational services, and the identification of prospective legal guardians to the children.

On 04/06/2017 Ms. Lisk notified NTF staff that the mother had started to rapidly decline and around 2:00 pm the doctors reported that the mother would only have about 24 hours left to live.  At about 6:00 pm, Ms. O passed away.

Due to the tremendous efforts, compassion, and dedication of Ann Lisk; the mother was able to remain with her children by her side until her last breath.  Additionally, the NTF-Jacksonville Case Management Team was able to develop a safety plan that allowed the Dependency Petition to be dismissed on 04/10/2017, the case to be transferred to Family Court following the wishes of Ms. O, and to ensure wraparound services to transition the children from Ms. Lisk’s care to the new identified legal guardians of the children.  The case was transferred to our FAST Preservation Team for continued family support to the children and their new legal guardians.

In Ann Lisk’s Own Words:

“Ms. O dedicated her professional and personal life to the special children in our community.  It was a privilege to have served her and her family during her final days of life.  I truly appreciate NTF and FSS for granting me the opportunity to work with this family in the privacy of their home.  The knowledge that her children were being cared for, while having them close to her side, provided Ms. O a great sense of comfort and peace.  I understand my request to stay in the O home was not an easy decision and a huge leap of faith by all involved…for which, I can only say… THANK YOU!!!”