Change a Child's Life and Your OwnGulf Coast Healthy Living Magazine Volume 6, Issue 4 - Lakeview Center
As a young boy, Shawn Salamida remembers a childhood filled with laughter, camping trips and strong faith. Today, he works to provide the same for his family, and as the president of FamiliesFirst Network (FFN) of Lakeview Center, for families in the community. His upbringing taught him firsthand that helping others not only changes their lives, but also your own.
“My parents adopted seven children and fostered many more,” Salamida said. “When I look at my brothers and sisters today, I cherish the commitment, love and compassion we have. I can’t imagine us not being a family.”
Knowing the rewards of foster and adoptive parenting, Salamida and his wife, Kathy, had four biological children and adopted two. He encourages others to adopt but says it’s an especially exciting time to be a foster parent.
“Foster parents are at the center of changing the entire child welfare system through our Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI),” Salamida said.
QPI is in its third year at FFN, and an important component involves foster parents helping children maintain a connection with their birth parents while they learn parenting skills. QPI embraces education and supports less traumatizing situations for children who are separated from their parents.
QPI is making strides toward improved partnerships with foster parents. The foundational principles support positive, long-term results that strengthen families. The goal of fostering is to provide a nurturing environment for children while working toward eventual reunification with their birth families. When reunification is not possible, foster parents help the children transition to an eventual adoptive family.
“Parenting is tough, but in the right setting, even highly traumatized children can grow and feel safe,” Salamida said. “I’m deeply grateful to our FFN foster parents. I’m motivated by our collaboration to improve the system. Most of all, I’m so fulfilled every time I see one of our many success stories.”