Tag Archive

Not Sure I Can Make It

Published on January 15, 2014 By Nicki Sanders

I’m not sure I can make it through the second season on the ABC Family hit TV series “The Fosters”. Last season I went through a range of emotions from annoyed, to sad, to happy. Finally…I could no longer resist. It pulled me (the cast is amazing). I didn’t get hooked willingly though…nope, I was kicking and screaming throughout the entire season.


Fast forward to the winter premiere this past Monday. It definitely lived up to it’s reputation of pushing the envelope and tackling tough issues related to foster care, homosexuality, love, family, disappointment, and drama. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. It was heart wrenching. I had forgotten how anxious the show makes me feel — and I don’t like feeling that way when I watch television and movies. Last year I “took one for the team” as part of my work. I reminded myself that it was only TV. I had the power to release it after 60 minutes but many young people have and are living those lives everyday. Despite that reality check, I’m not so sure I can make it through the entire season. I will watch the second episode and see how it goes.

These Teens Rock

Published on December 23, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

The Teen Toolbox eliminates negative stereotypes of teens in foster care with our SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month recognition. Our SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month award recognizes a youth (14-21) in the foster care system that is leading a life of promise and making a positive impact in his or her community.


SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month nominations are accepted on a continuous basis. #STOTM

SPOTLIGHTTeen of the Month 2013


Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox utilizes youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs. We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.

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Stop Pretending All Kids Have Good Parents

Published on November 13, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

America seems to be plagued with the “not in my backyard” syndrome. When things make us angry or fearful we tend to rally together until its time to work to eradicate the problem. When that time comes the numbers of willing workers seems to dwindle if it is “not in my backyard”.


YES, parents should monitor their child’s computer time, friends, clothing choices, television viewing, homework, sugar intake, music, and hang out places. What we must remember is that parents have different skill sets, resources, responsibilities, coping mechanisms, and personal histories. I am in no way taking parenting responsibility away from parents but there are 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system in the United States. Whether they are unable to or choose not to, clearly someone isn’t doing what they SHOULD do! This goes well beyond the parents of children in the foster care system I might add.  In an ideal world parents are a child’s first teachers and lay a strong foundation for success from birth. We don’t live in an ideal world. I may just scream if I hear one more person exclaim “that’s the parent’s job” as it relates to a young person who is hurt, vulnerable or in trouble! When are we going to stop pretending that all kids have good parents?

Tools For Independent Living

Published on October 18, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Did You Know?

  • Unemployment rates for adults under 25 has been as high as 54% in recent years.
  • National unemployment averages for teens remains above 20%
  • Fifty-three percent of 18-24 year olds have never moved out or have returned to their parents homes.


Due to the economic downturn, young adults are facing tough employment competition from older adults. As the United States works to spur economic growth, ensuring that young adults are prepared to succeed academically and in the workforce is paramount.


As youth workers and foster care advocates we all want to see young people find loving, forever families. The second goal for me is to ensure that teens gain the skills necessary to become gainfully employed and build a lasting career.


The Teen Toolbox Packaged For Success™ Youth Portfolio Development Program combines workforce readiness and career exploration through fun, interactive activities. We deliver 21st century skills training and the Common Core Standards for education in this life skills program.  Our companion to Packaged For Success™ is our ebook Get Hired: 30 Ways To Land The Job of Your Dreams.

Something Of Their Own

Published on October 11, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

This past summer, I witnessed two professionals with different backgrounds having a polite but serious disagreement about whether a workforce readiness program should be limited to youth in foster care or expanded to include other disconnected young people.


The “Educator” was advocating for an exclusive group despite the fact that in her previous “mixed” group the kids in care were “closed” and less engaged than the other participants. She said that the kids in care had formed a clique. She wanted to open up this particular group because in the previous group the Facilitator had worked extra hard to get the foster kids to become active participants with limited success. She went on to say that kids in care needed to mingle with others. (I almost hit the ceiling but maintained my composure because she was not speaking to me at the time.)


They Found It Early

Published on September 30, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Last night I watched the finale on Rachel vs Guy Kids Cook Off on The Food Network. Eight young chefs competed for a title and their own webs series on FoodNetwork.com. Ten year old Brandon was the winner.  These kids really made some really complex dishes.Although I did not see the three prior episodes in the series, I was very impressed with the skills, commitment, and love of learning each child possessed. They also did very well under pressure. (#RvGKids)


There were three things that I really appreciated about the show:

  1. Each child was accompanied by at least one parent. The parents were available and supportive.
  2. The parents helped their children recognize their talents and gifts early in life and then nurtured those gifts.
  3. The young contestants were a part of a team and mentored by experienced, compassionate chefs (Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri)


Small Changes Can Have Big Results

Published on September 16, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

1. Begin Each Day In A Positive Way – The way you start your day has a powerful impact on how you end your day. Set your intention on having a good day. Things won’t always go as planned but you can better manage the roller coasters of life when you begin on a solid foundation.

  • Read, write, or speak a positive affirmation
  • Write in a journal
  • Write a statement of gratitude or achievement
  • Listen to your favorite/motivational/inspirational song
  • Visualize your dreams
  • Write your goals for the day
  • Meditate
  • Do yoga or exercise
  • Dance
  • Concentrate on your vision board
  • Read a chapter in a good book
  • Listen to positive affirmation or meditations