Released 13 May 2013
For more than 20 years, Florence Rhue has dedicated her career to finding
support and care for orphaned children in the southeastern Pennsylvania region
while demystifying the adoption process through education. Now the director of
The Salvation Army
Children's Services , Rhue helps to provide foster care, mentorship, and
adoption services to children ranging from infants to 18-year-olds. The
Salvation Army is a licensed private adoption program and works in conjunction
with the Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN) and County Children and Youth
In honor of National Foster Care Month, the program celebrated the cause
through the Second Annual
Rock N' Run 4 Kids on Saturday, May 11. The event was organized by The
Salvation Army on behalf of the children served by The Salvation Army
Children's Services annually and the 14,000 children currently living in the
Pennsylvania foster care system who are in need of love and support to thrive
Rhue notes that The Salvation Army Adoption and Foster Care Program has seen
continued growth over the years, even adding on services like its successful
Teen Spirit Program for children who have aged out of the system. "Even as it
grows, we are able to stay very closely involved with each child and family
that we work with," said Rhue.
The most recent growth opportunity for the program is its newly launched Visit Coaching Program, an initiative to support the
bonding of families and children in the foster care system. The program, based
on research by Dr. Marty Beyer and funded by a three year grant, has been shown
to speed the reunification of families through what is often a stressful
Visit Coaching is designed to help parents learn and respond to the unique
developmental needs of their children in a supportive and comfortable
environment. Before each visit, parents meet with Visit Coach Robyn Hubbard to
talk about the needs of each child and address issues that brought them into
foster care. These planning sessions empower parents to be active and
Visits take place in the specially designed "family room" at The Salvation
Army, which welcomes families with warm paint colors, comfortable new
furniture, and shelves stocked with books, toys, and creative art supplies.
"This beautiful place has truly been prepared with the restoration of
families in mind," said Hubbard.
After each visit, parents are given time to reflect and evaluate, empowering
them to be attentive and child-focused parents. They leave feeling confident
and capable, and more motivated and hopeful for the future.
The Visit Coaching Program is designed to be creative and flexible to meet
each family's unique needs. Some family visits may even take place in the
community at libraries and parks. Hubbard has also been able to adapt the Visit
Coaching Program for parents who are incarcerated, providing pre-visit
planning, therapeutic attachment activities, and post-visit evaluations in the
prison. The program is already in talks of expanding beyond The Salvation
Army's program in the years to come.
The Salvation Army Foster Care Program was instituted in 1991, serving
Bucks, Montgomery, and Delaware counties. Six years later in 1997, the Adoption
Program was added to The Salvation Army's services as new legislature allowed
children in foster care to become available for adoption at a quicker rate.
This was an exciting development for Rhue, who could focus on placing children
in permanent homes.
Today, services have expanded to a second office in the Lehigh Valley and
the program is able to serve more than 50 children per year. Part of those
services include providing regular foster care to children as Salvation Army
staff work to identify a permanent living situation, in addition to respite
care and legal risk care for foster children. Services are provided in a
holistic manner promoting the safety and well-being of children, while
responding to the diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the children and
"Permanency is an extremely important thing for kids, and The Salvation Army
strives for it and chooses its foster families very carefully," said Rhue.