Saturday, May 30, 2009

Have you ever considered a foster child?

May is foster child month. Here's a guest post on the subject by a woman I admire - Deb Kelleher:

Every year thousands of children enter the child welfare system in Connecticut resulting in a foster care census of close to 6000 children in care at any given time. Statistically, it is likely that over 1300 of those children will not go back home for good. Where do they go? Who cares for them? What will their futures hold?

Foster homes will care for the majority of the children removed from their homes. Connecticut has approximately 3000 licensed foster homes in which to place these children. Not nearly enough to meet the needs of kids in crisis, kids who through no fault of their own cannot live with their moms and dads. Some of these children wait in safe homes (a short term home with professional staffing) for up to 60 days for an appropriate foster family. Sibling groups are the most challenging to place.

Foster care workers try very hard to keep brothers and sisters together and, largely, they are successful but finding a home that has space for 3 or 4 children arriving all at once can be a daunting task.

Some children are placed in other settings: hospitals, residential treatment facilities, group homes and other transitional settings designed to help young adults who “age out” without a place to call home. Children in placements such as these often will also require some kind of foster home in their journey through the child welfare system. Eventually, as the reasons that brought the children into more supportive living arrangements are addressed, social workers will look to place these children with foster families. Specialized foster families will be chosen who can care for children with more complex needs will take these young people into their homes and provide them with the support they need to progress and maintain their successes.

Foster families are a diverse group. They come in all ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, religions, and sexual orientations. Some are single, others are married or living with a partner. Some have biological children, others do not. Some are licensed to care for any child who needs a home. Others specialize in different areas of care. A foster home can focus on caring for babies or teens or girls or boys, for example. They can take classes to become a “medically complex” home that typically takes in kids with medical diagnoses and highly specialized medical needs.

Often family or other caring adults in a child’s life will come forward to care for a particular child or sibling group. Adults can become trained and licensed through private agencies that specialize in “therapeutic” care, “treatment” care, “professional” care, or even care of adjudicated youth. The private agencies that license these families provide special services and increased levels of support for their foster homes and the children living with these families. All successful foster families, though, have in common love for kids; an ability to laugh during tough times; patience; and an unwavering commitment to the children in their care in both good times and bad.

Children in foster care need more adults who can care for them. They need safe places to go while their families heal or until a permanent plan can be made for them if their families will never be able to care for them. Older children, in particular, need homes. Some of these children will eventually need adoptive homes. Many of these children will be adopted by their foster families. Some, though, will not and for those, an adoptive home will be sought. The AdoptUsKids website, available through our website ( photo-lists some of the children who need permanent homes in CT today, right now. Consider opening your home to a child or sibling group temporarily or permanently. You won’t be sorry. I promise. I’m not.

Deb Kelleher

Deb is a proud adoptive mom (through foster care) of 3 wonderful sons ages 21, 11, and 9 and biological mom of one 27 year old son. She lives in Cheshire. Or you can reach her as the Coordinator for:

Foster Adoptive Mission
P O Box 9117
Waterbury, CT 06724


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Deb is an amazingly wonderful woman..I admire her,too! ddv

Anonymous said...

I have a much different perspective of her.....

Anonymous said...

do tell....inquiring minds want to know!