Fostering Hope

Fostering The Future

September 9th, 2010 at 4:45 pm by under Fostering Hope, Patrece’s Perspective, WTHI Blog

I met another AMAZING foster child today in Terre Haute. I’ll tell you more about her in November when I continue my “Fostering Hope” special series. But, I can tell you she’s been in foster homes since she was 12. She’s now 19 and attending a local university, so someday she can help other kids in her situation.

An ambitious young woman with a mind of her own. I have no doubt she will be a huge success in life. But, she credits much of her good fortune to great foster parents. She finally got into a good home that lasted 4-5 years. They gave her the structure and support she needed to stay “on the right path” and become a better person.

I talked to her foster mother and she said one simple statement that really made an impression on me. She said..”To be a good foster parent, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to care!”.

The Wabash Valley is in such great need of GOOD foster homes. Homes that don’t have to be lavish. They just simply have to care and take in the child like they are their own. And there are too many teenagers in our community needing homes.

So, if you are thinking you might make a good foster parent, PLEASE give it serious thought! Department of Child Services would love to hear from you and they’ll tell you about the training needed to become a foster family. You’d be surprised the few hours of training needed to become a foster parent, but you can change a life forever!

Call DCS for more information. 812-244-2002 during regular business hours. Or email me and I’ll put you in touch with the right person to get your questions answered.

Thanks for listening and thanks for considering becoming a foster parent!!!

Patrece


A Heartbreaking Childhood

May 24th, 2010 at 5:00 pm by under Fostering Hope

When I met 14 year old Joe Lofton, all I saw was my own son.  I have a 14 year old son.  In fact, they attended school together and know each other.  But, talking to Joe was like talking to my own son.

He is an amazing young man with huge goals in life, yet he has suffered such a heartbreaking childhood it made my want to cry.  In and out of 10 different foster homes in the last 5 1/2 years!  Never having one place to truly call home.

For several days after I met Joe, he is all I could think of.  I woke up wondering if he was doing ok.  I hoped he was having fun the night I knew he was to attend a birthday party with new friends.

What I quickly came to realize through my stories, is that unfortunately Joe’s story is not all that uncommon in the Wabash Valley.  There are currently more than 450 children just in Vigo County in the system with Department of Child Services.  Not all of them are in foster homes, but many of them are.  Rescued by DCS so that they have a chance at a better life.  A life away from drugs, abuse, neglect.

Joe Loften, I hope, has finally found a good foster home with Elaine Moore.  The two of them seem to get a long well and they keep each other company.  And, the smaller school environment in Rockville could be just what Joe needs to truly succeed.  He is excited about his new school, his new friends and his new foster family.  I plan on keeping up with this young man to hear all about his successes!

But, unfortunately there are dozens more teenagers in our community who have not found a compatible home.  They need someone to believe in them and show them they care.

If you are thinking about, or have thought about becoming a foster parent I urge you to think about it again and seriously consider it!  These kids are generally not bad kids, they just come from parents who have made bad decisions.

There is financial assistance from CPS to help pay for taking care of these teens.  There’s even a special account for special teen events like the prom and visits to prospective colleges.  And if paying for another college education is what’s stopping you, there is great financial aid available to foster kids.

Karen Henderson from Ivy Tech Community College in Terre Haute graciously sent me information on college aid.  She says being an “independent” student for student aid purposes allows foster kids to be eligible for higher financial aid and loans.  Simply ask your school counselor or the college that the teenager is considering about help.

If you’d like more information about being a foster parent, please call either Megan Cottrell or Teresa Gray at 812-448-8731 or Vigo County DCS at 812-234-0100.


Important Phone Numbers & Information

May 24th, 2010 at 5:00 pm by under Fostering Hope

The Wabash Valley is in DESPERATE need of foster families to give children a good home, strong support and lots of love!

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, call either Debbie Bedow or Teresa Gray at 812-244-2037 or 812-448-8731.  You can also contact Vigo County Department of Child Services (DCS) at 812-234-0100.

The initial training to become a foster parent takes 20 hours; offered daytime, nights or Saturdays according to the need of the current training group.  Ten additional hours are required annually; 6 must be in a classroom setting; the others can be done by reading books, video training or online.  Criminal history checks and fingerprinting for every adult member of the household seeking a license is also checked as well as financial information to assure the family is self supporting for fostering.

What financial help is available to foster parents?  Medicaid is available for most children who are in care to take care of medical expenses/prescriptions.  Then, per diem is $25/day to be spent on food, clothing, school fees, etc.  An initial clothing allowance is given for each child, and after that, the foster parent must maintain clothing.  There is small amounts of money available through CPS to cover special events such as: prom dresses, trips to prospective colleges, senior trips.

There are currently more than 450 children in the “system” right now.  Drugs play a huge part in the majority of families involved with DCS (75%).  High rates of unemployment and general poverty are also major factors.  One in four children in Vigo County lives in poverty.  Vigo County also has a 10% unemployment rate.  When there is high stress in a family (unemployment, underemployment, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence) the chances for children being abused and neglected rises dramatically.  But, it is not just poor kids being victimized!  Drugs, alcohol and mental health issues contribute to the abuse and neglect of children across all socioeconomic levels.

If a child is rescued from a bad home by CPS, the ultimate goal is to put that child with a family member.  But, in some cases, those family members are also a bad influence.  That is when a foster family is the child’s only safe haven.

PLEASE, PLEASE think about being a foster family and help make a huge difference in our community!!

If you cannot devote the time and love for a child right now, there is still a way you can help!  There is a small donations account with DCS where community members can donate money to help kids out for special events and expenses the foster cannot afford.  Call the numbers at the top of this blog for that information as well!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for considering the children in our area and for fostering hope!