Raising awareness about need for foster parents

In Alpena, Montmorency and Alcona counties there is combined 13 homes being utilized for foster care. Many more are needed in order to accommodate the almost 100 children waiting for placement.

Next month Alpena will celebrate Foster Care Month and to celebrate the Department of Human Services and Child, and Family Services have teamed up to promote foster care. There are several events scheduled that will honor those who shelter kids, as well as help generate interest for others to take part in the program and help a child in need of a home.

Department of Human Services licensing worker Marci Sample said celebrating foster care month is a good way to educate people on the importance of quality foster care, as well as show support for the kids and families already participating. Sample said having quality foster care locally is important, because when there isn’t enough, the children are forced to live out of the area, and it could have a negative impact on them.

“The need for foster home in our local communities is enormous. If a youth has to be placed outside of their community they suffer loss of family, friends, school, church, community, and all that is familiar to them,” Sample said. “If they have to be removed from home, but can be placed within their community, they still suffer the loss and fear of the unfamiliar home, but may remain at the same school with their friends and adults they trust and count on. That is important and makes the transition a little easier for them.”

There will be ribbon-hanging ceremonies outside each of the three county courthouses and other activities to follow. There will be a 5K walk/run that will take place in communities nationwide. In Alpena the run will be on May 17 beginning at 9 a.m. at Duck Park. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. There also will be a special day May 10 for foster mothers who are giving of themselves to help the foster care cause.

“The event is called Mother’s Day Out Spa Day and it is for everything the foster mothers do,” Sample said. “It is being held at the Alpena Boys and Girls Club and it will be a day of pampering and a special, healthy brunch. Our foster mothers have definitely earned this.”

To be sure the children are fostered in the best possible environment, there is a list of criteria that must be met or considered before becoming foster parents. She said it is important the circumstances will be a good fit for not only for the child, but the foster family as well.

“We look to see if the applicant is single or married, rents or owns a home, and be sure the home is of sufficient size and free of hazards for a child,” Sample said. “A background check is done and we make sure the parents can meet the physical, emotional and developmental needs of the children.”

To learn more about becoming a foster parent and making a difference in the life of a child, contact the Alcona-Alpena-Montmorency County Department of Human Services at 395-0877.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.