Team Member Spotlight: Kyraneshia Coleman
When Kyraneshia Coleman chose to major in psychology at Florida A&M University, she never imagined her journey would bring her to the remarkable world that is Central Florida’s child welfare system. This Alabama native and beach lover now has 10 year under belt and doesn’t imagine leaving the sector anytime soon.
“I love working with children because their successes fall on our shoulders. Knowing that I made a difference in a child’s life means that my purpose is being fulfilled,” Kyraneshia explains.
Kyraneshia began her child welfare career in 2006 as a Child Protective Investigator (CPI) with the Department of Children and Families.
“I will never forget my first day on the job,” she reminisces. “I was in Bithlo shadowing a current CPI to complete my training. We had received reports that there was no running water in the home due to a busted pipe. As a CPI, it was our job to visit the home and assess the situation. When it came time to enter the home, I was shocked that although my Caucasian counterpart had just entered, the children’s father looked at me and denied me entry.”
For Kyraneshia, this was a startling introduction to the world of child advocacy. As someone who refers to all the children she works with as “her babies”, it hurt her heart that she was not allowed to look out for the children’s best interest simply due to the color of her skin. However, if nothing else, Kyraneshia is known for her tenacity. Since that first experience, she has continued to blossom and grow in her career and now serves as the Foster Parent Recruiter for Seminole County.
As a Foster Parent Recruiter, Kyraneshia travels throughout Seminole County hosting question and answer sessions, meeting with churches and other organizations, and spreading awareness about the need for more foster parents with the aim of persuading them to open their heart and home to a child in need.
“It can be difficult because there is a stigma about what children in foster care are like,” Kyraneshia explains. “When it comes to teens, people think they are scary and have done something terrible to have been taken away from their home. There are so many myths that we have to debunk just in order for people to see that the only thing these children are guilty of is needing a little bit of extra love.”
In Kyraneshia’s position, it can be difficult to see the changes she is making in people’s lives. Although she helps to introduce prospective parents to the world of foster care, her position does not often allow her to stay in contact with participants once they begin the licensing process. In mid-January, Kyraneshia had the heart-warming opportunity to visit the home of a foster family comprised of German and Danae Fuentes and their son Max for the first time. During the visit, she admitted that she had to hide a few tears as she was overwhelmed with the love they held for their foster child and the excitement of seeing things come full circle.
When asked if she had any words of wisdom for anyone who has a heart for children, Kyraneshia responded, “Give fostering a try. Listen to that little voice in the back of your head that’s encouraging you to call us or go to a Q&A session. It could be the best thing you ever do in your life. We even have cookies!”
Follow Kyraneshia’s advice; give fostering a try. Visit http://embracefamiliesfl.org/make-a-difference/foster to learn more about becoming a foster parent.