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!!!”

Father Clements Recognized for 60 Years of Service

President & CEO Tony Everett joined more than 600 friends and admirers of longtime NTF Board member Father George Clements in celebration of his 60th year in the priesthood.  The event, held in Chicago, featured remarks by Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Father Clements and the late NTF President & CEO Gordon Johnson were co-founders of the national One Church One Child movement.  Father Clements was also the first Catholic priest allowed to adopt a child; his struggles to do so were recounted in the film “The Father Clements Story” starring Lou Gossett, Jr.

NTF Hosts Hand in Hand, Inc.

Neighbor To Family is hosting visitors from Hand in Hand, Inc. on May 2nd and 3rd.  Hand in Hand is a private, nonprofit, short-term foster care agency headquartered in Everett, Washington.

Pictured above from left: Jamie Akins, Vice President of NTF Florida Programs; Felicia Gardner, Lead Family Advocate, NTF-Jacksonville; Nichole MacKinnon, Receiving Care Program Manager, Hand in Hand; Alice Casson, Chief Operating Officer, Hand In Hand; Aida  Seeraj, Executive Director, NTF-Jacksonville; and, Myraida Davison, Executive Director, NTF-Daytona Beach.

Cyndi Williams is “Leading By Example” Employee of the Quarter

Cyndi Williams (left) with Jamila Hankins

Training Manager Cyndi Williams has been selected the “Leading By Example” Employee of the Quarter.  According to her nominator, Cyndi “is a team player who has served NTF in Georgia and across the agency for over 11 years.  Along the way she has earned a reputation for being dependable, trustworthy, creative, compassionate, dedicated, and uplifting to all.”

Congratulations, Cyndi!

Also recognized as Leading By Example were:

Susan Buckley, Myraida Davison, Felecia Gardner, Marcela Kelley-Hansen, Lamesha Killins, Sue McQuillen, Kelly Morgan, Shannen Sabino,
Brittani Sego, and Lesley Vickerie.

And special thanks to this quarter’s Selection Committee: Retonia Allen, Kasi Cox, Jajaira Matos Jemmott, Brenda Jones, Juanita Kinsey (Chair), Karen Swanson, Jo Toubman and Reggie Williams.


Advocacy Groups Help NTF-Georgia Kids

Foster children forced to carry belongings in plastic garbage bags is a sad, and all too common, scene. The American Adoption Congress, in conjunction with Together We Rise, is working with NTF-Georgia to resolve this problem.  NTF-Georgia’s Jody Howard recently accepted the groups’ donation of 40 duffle bags, each filled with a teddy bear, blanket, coloring book, crayons, and tooth-brushing kit.   Thank you American Adoption Congress and Together We Rise! 

Jody Howard (second from right) with members of the American Adoption Congress.

COA Preparation

You should have heard the news by now- it’s not been kept top secret! The Council on Accreditation (COA) is coming to Neighbor To Family for our fourth accreditation review/audit.

What is COA?  The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international not-for-profit accrediting organization serving more than 2,000 private and public child, family, and behavioral health organizations.

What does a COA Peer Review Team do?  The reaccreditation process focuses largely on site visits conducted by a review team consisting of specially trained individuals affiliated with organizations similar to NTF. They will carefully study all elements of our agency to determine whether we have maintained the standards needed to keep our accreditation.

The team is scheduled to arrive April 23 and depart April 26, 2017. While on site they will review records, conduct safety inspections, and hold interviews. The audit even includes what we might consider the “small stuff” such as whether we remember to sign in and out on the site’s attendance sheet to whether we wear our NTF badges while in NTF buildings. Bottom line – everything is fair game.

Why is the accreditation important?

  • It offers national and external validation of performance
  • It places NTF in a strong competitive position
  • It creates a framework for ongoing performance quality improvement
  • It is required by some NTF contracts

 Why do I need to be involved?  Any one of us may be interviewed during the on-site visits to NTF offices. To help prepare, we’ve developed and assigned to all staff and foster caregivers a mandatory Relias course titled “COA 2017”. You can easily access the Relias learning management system through the link on this site or an icon you may have installed on your computer. You will earn one credit hour for taking the training and passing the exam. If you have difficulty logging into Relias, please contact Cynthia Williams: Cynthia.williams@ntf.org for assistance. The course must be completed no later than April 15, 2017.

With your help, we look forward to earning another four years of COA accreditation. Thank you for your commitment to NTF and fulfillment of our mission to “revolutionize foster care by keeping siblings together while building healthier families and stronger communities.”

Submitted by Gaye James

A Warm Welcome to February New Hires

Name Position Program Office Hire Date
Kenyatta Anderson Administrative Assistant II DeKalb Co. 2/22/17
Carolyn Mack Lead Case Manager Augusta 2/21/17
Alexis Monroe Case Manager Jacksonville 2/7/17
Teretha Singletary Case Manager Jacksonville 2/21/17
Laderida Stokes-Roberts Family Care Manager Daytona Beach 2/13/17
Glora Thomas Family Care Manager Daytona Beach 2/13/17