Hearts of Yolo Profile: Joyce Henning

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

A cold Iowa winter three years ago was responsible for moving Joyce Henning to Yolo County. “I was on the phone with my niece and she told me it was 68 degrees at her farm in Esparto. With the wind chill, it was 30 degrees below zero in Iowa. I made up my mind then and there that I was going to head west.” After arriving in Yolo County, Joyce began learning about the area and discovered Yolo County CASA. “There was an announcement about volunteering to become a CASA volunteer in our local paper. With a background in social work and working with children with autism and developmental disabilities, I thought it was a great fit.”

Joyce went through the CASA training in the fall of 2015, and then selected her first CASA child from among several files. “I read about this elementary-age boy who was having behavioral issues at school and home as a result of the trauma he had been through when I was choosing my CASA child and with my background, his case spoke to me. I thought ‘this is my case—I can help this child.’”

And help him she did. “It took three placements during our first year together before he found the right foster home.  Much of my work was guiding his foster parents and his social worker to additional resources that were critical in helping him succeed. I am in absolute awe of the changes in this kid. Fortunately, his biological sister is placed with him, and they are totally thriving together in this family. Most of the time kids just need stability, the right resources and--- most of all, patience and love.”

Joyce herself is no stranger to the foster care system. She was a foster parent herself. “Amber (pictured left) was twelve years-old when she first became our foster child. Even after she aged out of ‘the system,’ she always remained part of our family. Finally, when she was 33, we decided to make it official by adopting her.  Many people don't know that you can adopt someone even when they are an adult, but it's absolutely possible. Even though we have always been very close, I did not realize the profound effect adoption would have on us. It was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Joyce also has a son of her own, and survives her late husband. Family has always been incredibly important to her and thanks to Yolo County CASA, she is now happy to be a part of providing consistency to children who have experienced loss and often great chaos within their family of origin. “We all need someone we can count on. I encourage anyone who thinks they might be interested in becoming a CASA or working in the social services to go through the training. You don’t need to be a social worker or have letters behind your name—you just need a caring heart and the desire to make a difference.”

Thank you, Joyce, for the many lives you’ve transformed through being a mother, foster mother, and CASA volunteer.

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