Voices for Children with Kadie Black
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and National Foster Care Month so this week, Kindness Influencer and podcast host, Marly Q, makes Time to be Kind with Kadie Black, CEO of Voices for Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children in the Miami Dade County foster care system. They discuss the the importance of finding personal joy, the critical work Voices for Children performs every day and how vicarious trauma affects those working in this challenging field. You’ll become more aware of the needs of children in foster care and learn ways the community can support through donations, volunteering, and creating positive experiences for children in the foster care system.
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“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero.” ~ Fred Rogers
Listen to this Episode and Discover…
- The needs of children in foster care, beyond the basics of food, shelter, and safety.
- The concept of vicarious trauma and the importance of mental health for those working with vulnerable communities.
- Some of the challenges faced by children in the foster care system and how organizations like Voices for Children help.
- The significance of community support, including donations, volunteering, fostering, etc.
- The impact of positive experiences and exposure on the vision and future of children in the foster care system.
- How you can be a Joy Generator for yourself and others!
About Marly Q:
Kindness Influencer, Leadership Trainer, and Community-Builder on a mission to create a kinder world for over two decades. Through her podcast, she invites listeners to make “Time to Be Kind” each week to receive a spark of kindness, connection and community.
Connect with Marly Q:
About Our Guest:
Kadie Black is the CEO of Voices for Children, a nonprofit serving children in Miami Dade County’s foster care system. Kadie emphasizes the importance of personal joy and highlights the critical work performed by Voices for Children. Discover how you can support foster care children through donations, volunteering, and creating positive experiences.
Connect with Kadie Black
Amazon Wish List: Voices for Children Back to School Drive
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Listen to Marly Q TEDx Talk “Kindness is your Superpower”: https://bit.ly/MarlyQTEDxTalk
00:00 Marly Q
As you may know, we’ve been celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’m still smiling and buzzing with energy after hosting our three day MANkind Summit last week. But mental health isn’t the only thing that I want to elevate your awareness about. May is also National Foster Care Month, and today we recognize over 1500 children in Miami Dade County foster care system and the almost 400,000 children and youth living in foster care across the US. We’re making Time to Be Kind today to express appreciation to all foster parents who open their homes and their hearts and also acknowledge the kind professionals and volunteers who do the hard work of elevating Voices for Children every day. Let’s listen.
00:53 Marly Q
Hello and thank you for making Time to Be Kind with Marly Q and our special guest PARKer today. She is a super PARKer, mom, wife, friends, bubble blower, roller skating joy seeker and the President and CEO of Voices for Children. Who together with her team serve as a beacon of hope for abused, abandoned and neglected children and youth in the foster care system. Voices for Children, provides critical support for advocacy to ensure that every child has access to basic necessities, dignity items and positive experiences to help them build a brighter future. Please help me welcome to the show, Kadie Black.
01:30 Kadie Black
So happy to be here.
01:31 Marly Q
I am so happy that you made Time to Be Kind in your super busy schedule. Thank you for carving this time out for us to have a conversation. And before we jump in, I have to say thank you to you and Voices for Children for being one of our very first supporting sponsors for the MANkind Summit. Thank you for seeing the value and investing in our mental health and helping our helpers elevate our mental health and wellness.
01:52 Kadie Black
We are so honored and we know that the important people that are working day in and day out carry a lot of stress and vicarious trauma. And so we want to invest both in the community and also our own employees. So we were so happy to be able to partner in this way.
02:12 Marly Q
Yeah, I am super excited and I’m already pumped for next year. So follow up conversation on how we can do more. MAN, I’m like over my man jokes, but I still have a few more days in me to throw a couple more man jokes.
02:23 Kadie Black
Well, you guys did such a wonderful job just pulling it all together and making sure that it was relevant content for everybody to take something away and use in their daily lives. So thank you for what you guys did to pull it off and put it together.
02:38 Marly Q
Thank you. I’m receiving that fully. Thank you. So can you tell me before we get into the super important work and sometimes very heavy work of what you do and trying to elevate that, to make sure that we feel well, is so important. And I know that you are a joy seeker. Can you tell me why spreading joy is so important to you? Roller skating, blowing bubbles. Let’s talk a little bit about what sparks your joy and why it’s so important for you.
03:03 Kadie Black
Absolutely. So for me, it’s about living authentically me and being aligned in my purpose and my passion. And the way that I was able to do that was finding things that made me happy, finding my joy, doing that and being able to be a magnet for all the things that were meant for me. And so the way that I learned to find my joy was blowing bubbles and roller skating. Yesterday I did pottery. I went to a pottery class. And so trying new things that filled my soul just allowed me to be able to focus on the things that I love. It’s brought me to where I am able to do a lot of that professionally now as well and spread joy and bring joy and be a joy generator for others who just need a little bit of hope in their life.
03:51 Marly Q
Joy generator. I love that. Joy generator. I love it, love it, love it. I’m like embracing it, so we can put that hat on right. I started calling myself a kindness influencer because I believe that we are all or all have the power to be a kindness influencer. And that resonated with me. When you said a joy generator, I believe we all have joy inside of us despite outward circumstances or joy is something that is always present within you and you can tap into it and generate more of that for yourself and for others. And the same goes for kindness. Do you agree?
04:23 Kadie Black
Absolutely. And I think it’s leading with that energy and so making sure that people can see that you’re eight. Oh, wow, she can generate that for herself. I must be able to do that as well and not necessarily waiting for those things that happen to us, but really things that are making it happen for us.
04:43 Marly Q
I love that. Can you tell us a little bit more about your work and your mission with Voices for Children?
04:49 Kadie Black
Absolutely. So like you had said, there are about 1500 to 1600 children in Miami Dade County’s foster care system. They come into the system because of abuse, abandonment or neglect and they are placed in foster homes, shelters, sometimes relatives who are willing to take them in for a portion of time while mom or dad can kind of figure out happening at home that’s prohibiting them from really being the parent that the children need. And just along those lines, what we see kids come into care is because of substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health, right? And all of those things really feed each other. And so a lot of the issues that in stressors end up showing themselves in a lot of that increased population of kids that come into care because stressors do inhabit or inhibit some decision making sometimes. But when parents are really reactive with their behavior, a lot of that is mental health, stressors or substance abuse, domestic violence. So those are really the root cause of why kids come into care. And we believe that every child deserves to have a voice in court than somebody to help them navigate the foster care system. So the Guardian ad Litems are the only person that is in the courtroom for the child’s best interest. We provide more than 50% of the funding needed for Miami Dade County to have 100% guardian representation for every single child. So a big part of what the voices does is make sure that every child has a Guardian ad Litem. The other thing is making sure they have their basic needs, those dignity items, those experiences that really help to expose them, to get them out of that survival mode, right? Everybody’s in this traumatic survival mode and how do we help them to kind of turn that into being able to thrive. And so that’s a lot of what we do is try to help reduce trauma. When kids come into foster care, maybe it’s a pillow that makes all the difference that they just have their own pillow. So reducing the trauma to help make sure that they’re able to heal from what’s going on in their homes.
06:57 Marly Q
Yeah. When I think about foster care and kindness, I really do think about the little things. If you think about a child who is just being either taken away from their family or being placed into a system, how is that entrance? Is there a kind welcoming committee into this system? Probably not if it wasn’t for beautiful people like you who think about making sure that the child has the least traumatic experience while the domestic situation is being sorted out. And that there are beautiful people who are willing to open their hearts in their homes, to accept children on a temporary basis, to love and care and provide safety for them. It’s just such important work. So just want to take a moment to pause there. And it is foster care month. And part of the purpose of Foster Care Month is to elevate awareness around the needs of foster care children, right? So what would you say are some of, like you just mentioned, the simple things. What are some more things so that we can all become more aware of the actual needs of children in foster care.
07:56 Kadie Black
Absolutely. And I think that’s a really perfect example of one of the things that we do so here at Voices, we have a comfort closet. And in that comfort closet are all of the things that are needed so that when kids do come in and often times they come in with their stuff in trash bags, that they’re able to have that dignity, right? They’re able to hold their head high when they go to their new school for the first time and they don’t have to wear a non uniform that they can just at least have that dignity. And so a lot of what we do is leveraging that within the community. So people who want to donate new stuff, right, because kids deserve new stuff, but new makeup, hair brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys. We’re about to have start ramping up her back to school. We make sure that we provide kids with a backpack and all kinds of items that they need to be able to start school off in a fresh way. And that includes we provide new shoes, we provide support for uniform, food. We also get them set up with some gift cards for food so that they can get off on the right foot. And so that does include, of course, back to school items. And I think that we’ll provide you with our link to our Amazon wish list. And for those that do feel called to help, that’s a wonderful way. We also do take donations for our comfort closet. I really believe that if you can’t adopt a child in foster care, you can foster, and if you can’t foster, you can give, and if you can’t give, you can volunteer. There are so many ways for people to show up for this population, which really is our most vulnerable population. It’s children that don’t have parents and they need all of us as the community to come together and come around them. So definitely the Back to School and some of our ongoing initiatives are ways people can get involved. We also have annual events. We have our luncheon. It’s a superhero gathering of the superheroes for kids in foster care. That’s on October 6 at the Lowe’s Coral Gables. So you can find more information about that on our website, which is “bea” and then “voice”, beavoice.org. We have a gala every year as well, so there’s lots of different ways that people can kind of get involved in our work.
10:13 Marly Q
I love that we will definitely link all of the information in this episode’s show notes. Can you tell me something that you are the most excited about this year? I know you all have so many events coming up and programming that you do, but what are you most excited about?
10:28 Kadie Black
So most excited about? This year we’re partnering with Blue Mission. They are a mission organization that works in Dominican Republic to lay water systems for small villages that do not have access to fresh water. And so we’re taking 20 youth in foster care to the Dominican Republic. This summer to lay water systems. For me, those experiences and being able to expose kids to different things really allows them to spark ideas of what’s possible for them and give them hope. And so, for me, the most rewarding thing out of my job is allowing those experiences to happen. So I’m really excited about the dr, but I’ll tell you very quickly, this year, we did a tour of Miami, for example. We had 40 kids on a bus, and the minute we went up the causeway on the MacArthur Causeway, all the kids went nuts, and they were like, Miss, do you see the cruise? Do you see this? Because it realized that they had never gone over the causeway. These are kids that live in our community that have never seen the cruise ship or never seen the boat or never gone over the causeway. And so I’m excited to take them out of the country. We’re getting passports and all of those things, but really, it’s exposure that we can do on a daily basis and also with our monthly experiences that I think make all the difference. To help kids just really be able to see what’s possible for themselves.
11:54 Marly Q
Absolutely. You’re providing these positive experiences and opportunities to envision something better, in order for us to be able to grow towards a higher vision, we have to be able to have that vision. So you’re providing, through these experiences, a vision for what’s possible in the future of a child. And not only that, you’re providing them with adults and positive role models to support them in that development, which is huge. Children need a stable, responsible, kind of dependable adult that they can trust and they feel safe around. And I feel that you’re also providing that with your experiences. They absolutely make a difference. What would you say has been one of your maybe greatest challenges that you’ve had to overcome either recently or in your time with Voices for Children?
12:40 Kadie Black
Yeah, I mean, I think that, again, our frontline staff, because they do this day in and day out, the vicarious trauma of reading some of these petitions and reading about the circumstances of some of these cases is really challenging, and it’s really hard. And so I hold those kids in my prayers, and that continues to drive my desire to help and be of service in the ways that I can. But I think it’s really just knowing there’s so much suffering out there is really hard sometimes to stomach that children are going to sleep, for example, and they’re scared to sleep in their room because there are rats in their room, or they’re being exposed to predators that are in their building without being supervised. Many of those things just are very challenging. To think that kids have to have that as their daily reality.
13:32 Marly Q
Definitely holding space for how challenging that is for the children in that situation, and for the Kind professionals and even volunteers that confront this really crucial. And I think it’s a human responsibility incumbent upon all of us to take care of our children and the most vulnerable in our society. So truly, from my heart, just thank you for the work that you and the team at Voices for Children do. Thank you to our PARKers listening for just making this Time to Be Kind and elevate your own awareness about foster care and the needs of the foster care kids. And if you are a foster parent listening, we just want to give you a big virtual hug. And just thank you for opening up again your heart and your home. And if you’re curious about fostering, you’re curious about maybe this cause compels you to want to volunteer your time, energy and resources in some way. You’ll be able to connect with Kadie and Voices for Children right after this episode with the links in our Show Notes. Kadie, is there anything else you’d like to share with our PARKers Listening?
14:32 Kadie Black
I just think that I want to thank our donors and those that invest in Voices for Children. Because we would not be able to do this work without them believing in us. Voices believes that support should not be a privilege for kids, and so we are grateful that we get to do this work and that we get to do this work with Kind individuals who know and want to invest their time, their talents and their treasures. So we’re very appreciative of everybody who supports us.
I really hope you enjoyed that conversation with me and Kadie and learned a little bit more about the foster care system and how kindness can be a superpower to help elevate our children. We want to thank the servant leaders and professionals like Kadie and our team who dedicate their lives to be the Voices for Children in foster care. I want to thank you again for making Time to Be Kind today. If you appreciated this episode, let us know about it either on YouTube, Apple, Spotify, wherever you’re listening, leave a Kind comment and share it. You can be a part of Amplifying kindness worldwide. Join our KindQREW. You can find the link in this episode’s show notes as well with the link to support Voices for Children in their school supply drive. Okay, the Amazon link will be right on there. Head on over to Marlyq.com forward slash this episode number for the full transcription, show notes and links to connect. I’ll see you next time. Thanks for making Time to Be Kind.
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