May marks a special time of the year to raise awareness about the needs of the more than 4,900 Indiana youth in non-relative foster homes. Caring foster parents open their homes to temporarily care for and embrace these children. They value the foster child’s family connections and provide a safe environment until the child can return home, be adopted or live independently. May is National Foster Care Month and the Marshall County office of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is taking time to thank these families who provide homes and love to the 66 abused or neglected children in Marshall County that need them.
“People who become foster parents have chosen to be the difference for a foster child. Foster parents truly connect children to their community, impact young lives forever and offer hope for a successful future,” said Michael Carroll, Local Office Director. “Please take some time this month to thank these wonderful families who provide homes and love to children who need them.”
When a child cannot safely stay at home, relatives or other appropriate caretakers known to the children are contacted before seeking foster families to care for them. Searching for families, however, who will open their hearts and homes to children in need is always a priority.
To help with foster family recruitment efforts, DCS recently completed a new 30-second foster parent recruitment video, Choose to be the Difference. The video features current and former foster parents and children from around the state encouraging others to sign up to be foster parents. You can view the video by clicking here.
Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity for all Hoosiers to focus attention on the year-round needs of children and youth in foster care. Below are five easy ways community members can get involved:
· Be a foster parent – Make a real and lasting difference by temporarily sharing your home, time, energy and love with a child in need.
· Honor a foster parent – Attend or organize a foster care month event such as a dinner, coffee gathering, picnic, auction, etc. to raise awareness and express appreciation for foster parents. If you are not able to participate in person, consider making a donation to a local foster care agency. Please contact Lois Keith, Regional Foster Care Specialist (574-232-7158) for additional information.
· Be a volunteer child advocate – Court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers are trained citizens appointed by judges to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. Please contact Haley Kittrell, Executive Director, CASA of Marshall County (574-935-8723) for additional information.
· Mentor a youth – Mentors make a difference. Research shows that children and youth with mentors earn higher grades and report improved relationships with their friends and families.
· Hire a young person – Help a youth in foster care explore career options and find a job.
Caring Indiana foster families are always needed for older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs. For more information about foster care, please call Lois Keith, Regional Foster Care Specialist, 574-232-7158 or visit fostercare.in.gov.
About Indiana Department of Child Services:
DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. It also manages the child support bureau. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556. www.in.gov/dcs