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Looking for a Way to Contribute to Your Community? Be a Foster Parent

Colorado is in desperate need of foster parents willing and able to care for children whose parents aren’t able to care for them. As many others have already learned, fostering can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Fostering also provides a unique and extremely valuable way to contribute to your local community.

Foster Parents are Urgently Needed

By July of 2019, Colorado’s Division of Child Welfare will need 2,500 foster families. In order to reach this goal, they will need 1,200 additional individuals or families willing to help children in urgent need and retain 75 percent of those currently certified.

How to Become a Foster Parent in Colorado

Foster parents provide a vital service to both vulnerable children and the community as a while. You can be single or married, a renter or homeowner. If you happen to be black, Hispanic, American Indian or identify yourself as gay or transgender, there is a particular need. If you’ve taken care of lots of kids, that’s wonderful. If you have little or no experience as a parent, that’s fine too.

The basic requirements for becoming a foster parent in Colorado include:

  • Being age 21 or older
  • Passing a background check
  • Completing a foster parent training program
  • Having a home study

One requirement for foster parents is the most important of all, but is difficult to measure. You must really want to open your heart and home to a child in need, a member of your community who needs a safe place to live and love.

Foster Parents are Needed in Every Colorado Community

The lack of enough certified foster families adds to the suffering of many already-traumatized children. When there isn’t a certified foster family within the child’s own community, the child will have to move. The child has already lost their home and will lose even more.

He or she will lose friends and their school. Activities that were important, such as school clubs or playing on a sports team, will end. Worst of all, a child may be separated from brothers and sisters, a very important support system.

State officials try to prevent this from happening, but the lack of sufficient foster parents can force some very difficult placement decisions. Having foster parents located in as many communities as possible throughout Colorado is tremendously important in reducing further trauma for children who are already suffering.

How Do Children End Up in Foster Care?

There are many situations that could result in a need for foster care. The state may have intervened because of neglect or abuse. Occasionally, the child’s parent or primary caretaker died and a foster parent is needed until a permanent placement can be found. While a child may have been traumatized in the past and suffer emotionally as a result, they aren’t in foster care because they did something wrong. They need help and a stable living situation because of circumstances beyond their control.

Foster Care is Temporary

The goal of foster care is to allow parents time to learn parenting skills and eventually be reunited with their children. Foster care isn’t permanent adoption. You might provide care for a brief period or for a much longer time.

Foster Parents are Important Members of a Team

Foster parents partner with the state Office of Children, Youth and Families in providing care for children who need a safe place. Social workers and other agencies provide assistance. However, the foster parent is the person providing a clean bed, healthy meals and advice and encouragement.

Foster parents are incredibly important to the children in their care. The foster parent laughs with the child and dries their tears. You might help with homework or play ball in the backyard. You’ll be the first person the child sees in the morning and the one who says, “Good night.” Your love and support can enable the child to continue with their journey toward becoming a valued and respected member of the community.

Help a Child to Join the Community

A foster parent can greatly influence a child, both now and in the future. One way is to open the doors to others within the community who could provide positive encouragement, showing a child the benefits of becoming part of the community.

Each city and town includes many different communities, some of which you already belong to. There are church families, school groups, employers, local sports teams, groups and clubs supporting varied interests and hobbies, community and charity volunteers and many others. Each has the potential of expanding a child’s world in some way, if the introduction is made. You never know what or who can change a life.

Fostering Helps the Community

Foster parents are often the people who are with the child during a pivotal moment in the child’s life. For you, fostering can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but there are also undeniable benefits to the community at large.

Children removed from their homes because of parental neglect or drug use are at risk. Positive parenting is the best way to break this tragic cycle. Every child is valuable and deserves the opportunity to become a happy and contributing member of society.

Being a foster parent isn’t easy and no one would ever say otherwise. There will be challenges, but that’s true for everything worthwhile. Nothing will ever feel as good as knowing you’ve helped a child who really needed you. You took a vulnerable, young stranger into your home and made a difference.

Every adult living on the streets or in prison was once a child who needed help. This is a tragic waste and a constant drain on society. Sometimes, one person who steps up can change the stars for a child’s entire life. Helping children toward happier and more fulfilling lives is an incredible achievement, the most rewarding thing you could ever do.

IFCS believes in partnering with the community to improve family wellness. That’s why we promote many programs and services that help children and families in Colorado. If you want to join IFCS as a volunteer, click here for details.

References:

Denver Post

Perpetual Fostering

CO4Kids

Colorado State Foster Parent Association

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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