Julia Benford is a retired trauma technician with a lifetime of experience caring for people. She has a deep desire to help others and she shows that by being a big part of our Treatment Foster Care program. She has been a part of the program for two-and-a-half years, fostering three children in that time. Mrs. Benford has taken on the responsibility to care for children most people would find difficult to handle and she cares for them as if they are her own. Upon reflection of her experiences, Mrs. Benford says, “It is rewarding to see positive changes in a child and know that I am helping them by giving them loving care in a safe environment.”
What kind of person steps up to care for children most people would find difficult to handle? Meet Julia Benford, a retired trauma technician with a lifetime of experience caring for people. It’s no surprise she’s married to a retired firefighter, one of her daughters is a clinical social worker, and she has a grandson who just joined the Navy. The desire to help others runs deep in her family.
Mrs. Benford felt a calling to care for children in need, and she chose to work with The Children’s Guild Treatment Foster Care program because “it offered the support I knew I would need.” Treatment Foster Care parents are highly trained and supervised to care for children with complex problems and behavioral issues due to childhood trauma.
Mrs. Benford has fostered three children in her two-and-a-half years as a Treatment Foster Care parent. Maya,* a two-year-old girl, was recently reunited with her family. She had been drug-exposed and was failing to thrive when she arrived at the Benford’s home. “I attended feeding classes, and Maya spent the first six months sleeping on my chest because she wouldn’t let me put her down,” says Mrs. Beneford. Maya also had plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome), and Mrs. Benford maintained consistent therapy to shape Maya’s head. With all of these challenges, Mrs. Benford says, “Seeing Maya leave was the hardest part.”
Mrs. Benford currently fosters two boys, Jeremy* and C.J.* In the year leading up to placement with Mrs. Benford, Jeremy had three placements with different agencies. With The Children’s Guild’s support, Mrs. Benford has been able to maintain him.
Jeremy demonstrated verbal and physical aggression and was diagnosed with intellectual disability and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mrs. Benford attended almost daily intensive therapy with him. She says, “Most people find caring for Jeremy overwhelming because he has multiple issues and delays, but he would become a statistic if we did not help him.” There has been a learning curve for meeting his individual needs, and she has played a significant role in ensuring he receives the necessary therapy and care.
C.J. is a 16-month-old infant that Mrs. Benford has cared for since he was four days old. C.J. was drug-exposed and has numerous developmental delays, but he is finally starting to walk. She says, “He is wonderful,” and describes him as “cute and sweet” and having a personality that has charmed her whole family.
It takes a tremendous amount of fortitude and hard work to be a Treatment Foster Care parent. Upon reflection of her experiences, Mrs. Benford says, “It is rewarding to see positive changes in a child and know that I am helping them by giving them loving care in a safe environment.”
*Names changed to protect children’s privacy.