Different cultures believe the sunflower is a symbol of anything from positivity and strength to admiration and loyalty.  Jennifer Stenger, a Case Manager with Children’s Home Society of Florida, recently shared how sunflowers became a symbol of connection, commitment and success in her work to serve children.

“When I met Amie*, she would not speak – whether on a call or in-person. She would sit there with a mask on her face — even prior COVID — due to her religious beliefs. She did not feel comfortable or safe with anyone. I would ask her little questions and try to talk to her as much as I could. I actually just started sitting there and would talk about things she was doing or playing with so that she knew I was paying attention to her and trying to make contact with her. She would not even look my way. She would avoid eye contact and talk quietly under her breath to herself. I was very discouraged. This had never happened with me.

But I didn’t give up. I continued to try and try and try.

One night, after we had dropped off my other kids and were on my way to her foster placement. She suddenly started talking to me about sunflowers. She asked how much I liked them and then asked about things I did and my family. She started to tell me things she liked to do and then told me she loved to draw.

Finally! She was opening up.

That night, I took her to the store to get some snacks before taking her home and she thanked me 100 times. She told me goodnight and asked if she could have my work number in case she needed anything.

The next couple of days went by and her placement changed taking her out of my community. She messaged me a picture she drew for me of a sunflower and a poem. It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen.

A few weeks later she was back in my local area but the team caring for her was struggling to find her the right match for a foster parent. She wasn’t communicating and wouldn’t open up. I was able to tell the team more about her – what she likes and what would fit her best.

She was placed with a family where she is thriving. She loves her placement and she has not left since then!

I believe working with Children’s Home Society of Florida means saving lives! I go to work as a Case Manager and spend hours out in the field, at court, at visits, with kids, in the office and I am exhausted. But in the end, I know I am saving lives. I know that the endless hours will result in someone having a forever home! I can sleep at night knowing all my kids are safe and going to be ok. It truly has opened my eyes to see kids go through some of the horrible things I went through and faced and had no voice when I was growing up. Now, I can change the world one child at a time and give them the keys to success that I used to become the person I am today!”

Jennifer Stenger, Case Manager


*Child’s name was changed to protect confidentiality.

Get Involved

To show support for Case Managers, like Jennifer, head to our Advocacy Action Center and take action to request better pay and more support for the good work they do every day. During the 2022 Legislative Session CHS is requesting $25 Million to strengthen the frontline of child welfare and improve life-long outcomes for kids.

To learn more about joining our team and doing good with CHS, visit chsfl.org/careers for opportunities in your area.

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