A topic that those closest to me know is near and dear to my heart is Foster Care.  When I was about 12 years old I met my biological Paternal Grandmother.  This was a trip to a family that I had never known because my parents split up and I was adopted at age 4.  My grandmother was dying of cancer and asked that I visit.  While I was there I met cousins, and other family members that I never knew existed.  My biological dad’s sister was a foster parent and I think that was the first time I had ever heard of the concept.  As a child my possibly faulty memory recalls that my parents did not think much of this situation probably because the children in the home already did not particularly appear to be thriving.  This whole idea has stuck with me ever since.  One of those cousins, Nancy, grew up, got married and was intensly involved in the foster care system in Oklahoma. I believe she was the leader at one point of the state organization and she had many children go through her home.  She was unable to have biological children and I know she adopted at least one girl, Taylor, that had been in their care.  I always loved receiving her yearly newsletters to see pictures of the current children and hear the stories, sometimes heartbreaking stories.  Tragically, Nancy died in child birth a few years ago.  As I was raising my children I always felt my first priority to be their care and protection but the thought of foster care has never been far from my mind and I search the web frequently for information and to browse pictures and case studies of children currently waiting for homes, foster or adoptive.  If you want to read an article that shows why it is so important for families to make the sacrifices this takes to provide foster care go here:  lifting the veil

Brent and I are attending an informational meeting tonight.  This is just another step in a long investigative process that will need lots of good counsel, prayer, discernment, etc…  I feel very inadequate for such a challenging task but I often think of Pastor Fred’s advice to Tim on the subject of becoming a Pastor, paraphrased it was basically “don’t do it unless you can’t not do it.”   We will see if the Lord opens the doors so to speak or confirms the leanings of my heart by placing an equal burden on my husband’s, my families’, and my church authorities’ hearts.

Info from the DSS Website:

Foster Care Statistical Information
 
As of March 31, 2007, there were 9,818 children in the custody of the Children’s Division. Of those children, 4,614 of them were in the care of foster care providers.  Relatives provided care for 2,750 of the children and 1,577 of the children needed a level of care that required placement in residential treatment facilities.  Another 110 are in homes with families planning to adopt them.

The average age of children in foster care is just below 10 years.  Their average stay in alternative care is over 27 months.

There are 3,226 licensed foster homes across the state of Missouri and another 3,056 licensed relative homes.  The average age for a foster mother is 45 years and for a foster father is 46 years.  However, the state’s oldest foster parent is 84 years old and the youngest is 22, just over the required age of 21.

All foster care and relative care providers receive specialized training.  Prospective foster parents take a total of 27 hours of training on five competencies necessary to work with the children in CD custody and their families.  Those competencies are:

Protecting and nurturing children;
Meeting children’s developmental needs and addressing developmental delays;
Supporting relationships between children and their families;
Connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime; and
Working as a member of a professional team
Relative providers complete nine hours of agency-approved training.  All prospective caregivers must complete a comprehensive background check.

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