Christine Lenz is a KVC Kansas Case Manager. In this role, she provides support services to youth in foster care to help them find safe and loving homes and ensure their needs are met. The story below highlights how Christine went above and beyond to understand and connect with a youth who had difficulty trusting others.
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Two traumatic incidents occurred in young Austin’s life that caused him to become very introverted and difficult to connect with. The first was discovering his brother’s body after he committed suicide. The other was experiencing abuse and neglect from his mother, which resulted in him being placed in foster care.
When Austin entered foster care, Christine Lenz was assigned as his case manager. Over the next two years, Christine became the most consistent person in Austin’s life. She understood the trauma he had gone through and knew that the only way to successfully help Austin open up would be to treat him with kindness, love and understanding. She knew Austin had significant potential to thrive in life, so she decided to focus on his many strengths instead of the areas he struggled to improve in.
During a visit to Austin’s foster home, Christine noticed a skateboard in the garage. She asked him if this was something he enjoyed, and Austin replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
Austin was very passionate about skateboarding, and Christine quickly saw its potential as a therapeutic outlet. Though it wasn’t a requirement of her job, Christine took special time out of her day to take him to the skate park. These outings helped them bond during each of their visits, and Austin began to open up much more frequently.
Anytime Austin would get upset, Christine was his go-to person. She always made time to talk with Austin when he needed it most, and the skate park was consistently a place he felt comfortable talking.
To this day, Christine is still Austin’s case manager and spends time helping him heal. In-between visits and check-ins, Austin writes Christine little notes saying hi or thanking her for being there for him. Christine demonstrates the great lengths KVC staff will go to develop long-lasting relationships with their clients who can be resistant to forming new connections.
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