MAFF News May 2021

May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month, and in a year that has been especially difficult, we appreciate all the work you do!

A Letter From the MAFF President

Appreciating You

Although foster families deserve recognition and appreciation EVERY month, I am thankful for the national spotlight Foster Parent Appreciation Month provides, especially in this unprecedented period in history. Foster Parent Appreciation Month is an opportunity to celebrate foster parents, share our stories and spread awareness about the work we do every day to enhance the lives of the children in our care.

While we are unable to hold our annual brunch, MSPCC's Kid's Net is providing increased support to area offices to plan their own celebrations. Keep an eye out for what your area office has planned as a most deserving thank you for everything you do.

2021 Award Winners

Every year during Foster Parent Appreciation Month, MAFF celebrates our champions by awarding the Lisa Jenkins Award and Goldie Rogers Award. This year's Lisa Jenkins Award winner is Maria Mossaides, the Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and this year's Goldie Rogers Award winner is Melissa Anderson, MAFF Area Representative for the Cape & Islands. You can learn more about these awards and our 2021 winners below!

Advocating for Foster Families

MAFF continues to meet with the Massachusetts legislature on our priorities. We’re advocating for an increase in the daily rate of support for children in foster care and ensuring the Behavioral Health FRL pilot can have continued success moving forward. The state budget has reached the Senate where our priorities will be debated.

We're asking all of you to help advocate with us. Your voice makes a difference, and funding for these two priorities will ensure you continue to receive resources for the kids in your home and can access behavioral health supports when needed. Click the button below to TAKE ACTION on behalf of ALL foster parents in the Commonwealth.

Ask your friends to participate, as well! You don't have to be a foster parent to support foster parent issues. Contacting your State Senator is easy, effective, and takes one minute.

As we move into summer...

keep an eye out for more opportunities to get involved with MAFF, including the Retreat for Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Mothers, taking place on September 10th-12th in Devens, MA.

Thank you for everything you do!

Cathie Twiraga

President, Massachusetts Alliance for Families

Our Award Winners

Maria Mossaides: Lisa Anne Jenkins MAFF Policy Maker of the Year Award Winner

Established in 2009, The Lisa Anne Jenkins MAFF Policy Maker of the Year Award honors the life and work of Lisa Anne Jenkins, a strong, tenacious, and effective advocate.

Lisa Anne was a dedicated foster parent and active MAFF member who left an indelible mark on her community and those she loved. Along with her husband Wayne E. Lanphear, Lisa raised her two children, ran her own business and provided a loving home to 27 foster children, each of whom held a special place in her heart. In addition, she was a member of the Wachusett School Committee, a CASA case worker, a family resource liaison with Kid's Net, a charter member of "Fresh Start", and a MAFF representative serving the Worcester West region

In tribute to her legacy, MAFF recognizes an individual who shares her commitment to prevention of child abuse and neglect and to improving the lives of children in DCF care. MAFF is pleased to announce that Maria Mossaides, the Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will be honored as this year’s recipient.

In the nearly four decades that span her career, Maria has held many key positions in and out of state government. In each of those roles and to this day, her passion for and dedication to advancing the health and wellbeing of children has always been at the center of her work and her life. Maria is a tireless advocate who is respected for her keen intellect and her unquestioned integrity and is beloved for her ready smile, her kindness and her grace. She is a skilled attorney, a dynamic educator and a proud and involved mother and Yiayia.

Maria has been a leader in the delivery of comprehensive foster care, having served as Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Services. She is a trusted advisor and ally to MAFF in our work to improve the foster care system and outcomes for DCF involved children and youth. MAFF is pleased to acknowledge her highly accomplished career of service to children with this honor.

Melissa Anderson: Goldie Rogers Award Winner

The Goldie Rogers Award for Outstanding Foster Parents has been awarded every year since 1987. The award was established in memory of Mrs. Rogers, a foster parent, who died in a tragic house fire. Each year, in her memory, one or more foster parents who exemplify her spirit of commitment to foster parenting, are chosen to receive the award.

The recipient of the Goldie Rogers award is a person who believes in the priority of family as the basis for children’s well being and is an example of that sense of family to the larger community, is committed to other children’s issues in addition to foster care (e.g. education, health, child care, etc.), advocates for children’s needs through legislative or community involvement, and inspires other foster parents and non-fostering adults into active support of children’s issues.

This year's winner, Melissa Anderson, has been an Unrestricted Foster Parent for more than twelve years and has provided a warm, loving, and nurturing home for over 60 foster children. Melissa is a person who has dedicated her life to some of the youngest members of our community through her work as both a foster parent and as a childcare provider. In addition, Melissa has provided permanency through adoption for three of the foster children who came through her door. Melissa’s passion and enthusiasm for caring for children is contagious and she has used this to help recruit and mentor new foster parents. She has served as a Family Resource Liaison, a Foster Parent Ambassador, a MAFF representative and a MAPP Foster Parent Trainer. Melissa has proven to be an invaluable asset for her area office and is most deserving of the distinguished Goldie Rogers Award.

MAFF Rep Highlight

Carol Fitzgibbons

Carol with her husband Dennis and son Peter

Carol Fitzgibbons came to MAFF two years ago from Weymouth and represents the Coastal Area Office. She and her husband Dennis have been fostering for 12 years. Carol wanted to join MAFF to be part of making things better and more focused on what is essential for the children in care. They have worked as a hotline home short-term and long-term placements. When asked how many children Carol has had in her home, she replied the number is too many to count! Some may come for a day, and some may come for a few months. They are all as important.

Carol enjoys working with biological families to maintain contact, often doing respite and school drop-offs for siblings of placements even after returning home. She especially enjoys being a co-teacher of the MAPP class for foster parents and looks forward to the day we can return to in-person courses to get back to that personal touch.

For future work with MAFF, she would like to see the process of keeping foster parents' personal information more secure, so the foster parent has the power to determine with whom they share their information.

Behavioral Health Family Resource Liaison Pilot

Kid's Net, in collaboration with MAFF and DCF, has launched the Behavioral Health Family Resource Liaison (BHFRL) pilot program.

The BHFRL program has had incredible success so far with 55 families referred to the program between January and March! We've also had a lot of positive feedback from families and DCF workers about the program. We are still taking referrals!

What is a Behavioral Health Family Resource Liaison?

Building upon our current Family Resource Liaison (FRL) positions, we have added additional lived-experience foster parents to our team who have undergone additional training and are available to provide support to you & your family while you wait to engage with other therapeutic/support providers in your area.

What kinds of things can a BHFRL help me with?

BHFRL’s can help address barriers to accessing therapeutic services, provide you with information about other service providers in your area, and direct you to appropriate resources. Most importantly, they are available to support you with a variety of information, tools and techniques to utilize with the kids in your care.

How can I connect with the BHFRL in my region?

For more information about the BHFRL program or to find out how your family can receive services, please contact clinical supervisor Kim Kelley at kkelley@mspcc.org or 857-293-3392. Referrals can be made by families themselves, through DCF, or by any other community partner. Information gathered during this pilot will be used to continue MAFF's advocacy for funding beyond September 2021.

Rise Above

Rise Above Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide enriching experiences and activities to children and youth experiencing foster care here in Massachusetts. The organization has served 7,500+ MA children, providing them with funding for things like sports fees, music lessons, summer camp and prom expenses.

Eligibility: Children of any age who are in the physical care and custody of the MA Department of Children & Families (DCF), including youth in departmental foster care, CFC homes, independent living, group home and residential placements. Young adults 18 years and older who have voluntarily signed themselves in with DCF are also eligible.

Application process: DCF social workers, or youth themselves, foster parents, or any other supports to a youth (teacher, mentor, clinician, etc.) can complete an online application. Rise Above verifies custody status and appropriateness of the activity requested with the youth’s DCF social worker, and then reviews applications on a rolling basis. Payment is made directly to the activity provider (for example, the karate studio). The entire process takes up to 30 days.

Examples of what Rise Above funds: Musical instrument rentals and purchases; In-person or virtual karate, dance, gymnastics, music and other lessons; Little League, soccer, football and other team sports fees, and uniforms and equipment; Bicycles and helmets; Theme park admission tickets; Concert and sporting event tickets; Specialty summer camps; Class trips and family vacations; Quinceneara’s; Prom clothes, tickets and photos.

Kid's Net Updates

The Kid’s Net program continues to support foster families during this unprecedented time. We are available to support you and your family. More information on these resources is available on our website (link below).

Helpline: We are continuing to staff our Helpline when DCF offices are closed, and we are also monitoring the Helpline during the business day. If you cannot reach someone directly, please leave a voicemail. Your call will be returned promptly by Kid’s Net staff. 800-486-3730

Respite: We continue to process respite payments as usual. Please continue to make arrangements through your family resource worker.

Emergency Childcare: Kid's Net continues to provide short-term child care support for foster and pre-adoptive families. Through our partner, Child Care Circuit, we can identify home-based daycare providers who are following COVID 19 protocols and have re-opened to provide care for Kid's Net for up to 10 hours per month. Additionally, Kid's Net continues to reimburse in-home babysitting provided by a DCF approved caretaker for up to 10 hours per month. Please contact your Regional Kid's Net staff for additional information.

Family Resource Liaisons (FRL’s): FRL’s remain available to support foster parents with resources and referrals. Please continue to reach out to them for assistance! Find their contact info on our website (link below).

Training & Support: Kid’s Net has been running regular training and support groups via Zoom and we will continue to offer statewide virtual groups and trainings throughout the summer and into the fall. We will continue to evaluate when it is safe and appropriate to re-start our in person meetings.

Did you know? Foster parents who are reimbursed by Eliot/MSPCC for providing babysitting, respite, or MAPP services can now enroll in direct deposit to receive your reimbursement faster! Contact your Regional Kid's Net staff to find out how!

About MAFF


The Massachusetts Alliance for Families (MAFF) is a state-wide association of DCF foster, adoptive, and kinship caregivers. The MAFF Board is charged with ensuring that MAFF’s work is informed by a statewide perspective and addresses existing regional disparities. MAFF events are open to all DCF foster, adoptive, and kinship caregivers and other supporters are welcome and encouraged to participate in advancing MAFF’s advocacy agenda.


MAFF’s advocacy is focused on ensuring that children in DCF care and their caregivers have access to services and resources to support healthy physical and emotional development and enable them to succeed academically and socially. This includes recruitment and retention of well-trained and supported foster families and resources to enhance placement stability and help youth prepare to lead successful adult lives. For more detail about our current advocacy

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