After the death of a little girl in Rochester, many have called for changes to our Child Protective Services Offices. County leaders say they're already hiring more caseworkers and making those changes. While we know of the tragic failures of the system when a child dies, workers tell us there are the many behind-the scenes successes. Cristina Domingues has more with the final piece in our series CPS Overworked?
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Family is a word means a lot to 13-year-old Queenasia Vanzie.
When she was just 2 years old, CPS removed Queenasia from her biological mother's home, for reasons not shared.
She lived in several foster homes, until about two years ago when it all changed.
"They called me up and told me a little about her," said Patricia Vanzie. "Then she was going to do weekends with me while she was in another placement. And I get to know her and she get to know me."
Patricia's five biological children are grown and already out of the house. A few years ago, she decided to become a foster mom. She's taken 10 children in, most stayed only a few months, but Queenasia was different.
"One day after she was staying with us permanent and I ask her what she would like mostly and she said a Mom," Patricia said.
Patricia and her husband thought about it, and in November, they adopted Queenasia who officially became a Vanzie. At last, she had a family.
Rhonda Walker is the Hillside social worker who helps families like the Vanzies get any outside help they might need. The goal is to keep the family together. She says it was Queenasia's county workers who helped make this family connection.
"Her county worker knew, was aware that this was something she wanted and they worked with not only myself, but also with the home to make this happen," Rhonda said.
Patricia said if she had more space in her modest city home, she'd take more children. She knows most will stay only a little while.
"I think everybody needs a second chance if their parents do what they're supposed to do," Patricia said. "Because [I] don't care how much love I show them, it's not the same as a parents' love."
Rhonda believes with help, parents can change. She says the Rochester community is rich with resources like Hillside that can help; help to give every innocent child with hopes and dreams, a chance at a family, and a safe, happy and healthy childhood.
"They are little kids who are eager that are looking for that love, that affection, that attention, that mommy, that daddy," Rhonda said. "When they have that hope, you can see a difference in that smile."
Interested in becoming a Hillside foster family? Visit this website for more information.