Resource parenting. A new way to address an old practice. You might be more familiar with the term “fostering.”
Union county is in critical need of boosting its foster/resource parent pool. According to Jackie Hill, Area Social Work Supervisor with Family & Children Services, there are over 70 children in the system right now with less than 20 homes available.
Unfortunately, over 75-80% of the children who are in custody are displaced due to drugs in their home. Hill states that it is an epidemic.
The agency’s first goal is to work closely with relatives to place children in a safe environment with as little disruption to their lives as possible. If this isn’t possible, then finding a foster home is the next step. Sadly, if there isn’t a foster home available in Union county, then the agency is forced to look at other homes outside the area, which means the child will be subjected to changing schools, churches and everything else familiar to him or her.
Removing a child from his home is traumatic enough, but completely removing all things familiar from him amplifies this trauma drastically. And it gets worse. When the agency is forced to look outside the county and still finds no available home, then the child must go to a shelter. This is why it is vital to create awareness in our community.
Hill says that one reason for the shortage is just that. People are unaware of the need. But with the drug epidemic growing each year, the need will multiply as well.
The resource parenting pool may also be slimmed down simply because people are intimidated. Working alongside a government agency is kind of like going to court; nobody wants to go there and do that. But these are different times we are living in and things have changed. Mr. Hill says that Family & Children Services agents realize there are no perfect families.
Children just need someone to love them and care for them. In fact, Hill states that it has been their experience that the families who have gone through certain trials in their lives and learned from and resolved those issues, have more sage wisdom to offer up and are actually better equipped to care for these kids. These foster parents can even be mentors to the birth parents.
So now we get to the requirements.
What does it take to be a foster parent?
You have to be 21 years of age, legally married or single. You will need a simple medical checkup. There will be a home study, which means a social worker will come to your home, visit and talk with you and make sure you have a safe space to house a child. This usually takes about 3 visits. Prospective resource parents will also take around 27 hours of training classes in preparation with 12 of those hours being online.
The time frame, from start to finish, can be anywhere from 2 – 4 months.
There is also a need for people to do what is referred to as respite care. At times, a resource parent might need a break, and that’s when a respite care person would step in, short term, to provide care for the child or children.
If you would like more information regarding becoming a resource parent or someone who can provide short term care (respite), please contact Jackie Hill at 662.534.1986
Jackie will be glad to speak at civic groups, church meetings and other functions to inform the community of this very important need.