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Families open hearts and homes for children

May is National Foster Care Month but, for those involved in the foster care programs across the country, every month is foster care month.

Florence Mitchell, director of the Pike County Department of Human Resources, said National Foster Care Month is a time to honor foster families. Several activities were planned in Pike County to honor those who have taken foster children into their homes and into their hearts.

On May 13, a foster care appreciation banquet, hosted by the United Methodist Children's Home and Family Finders, was held at Hephzibah Baptist Church.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford presented a proclamation declaring May Foster Care Month in Troy.

"The family is the very foundation of our communities and our state," Lunsford said. "And there are about 500 children and youths in foster care who are being provided with a safe, secure and stable home along with the compassion and nurture of a foster family."

Lunsford said foster families open their homes and hearts to children whose families are in crisis.

"Foster families play a vital role in helping children and families heal, reconnect and launch children into successful adulthood," he said. "The foster care system is only as good as those who choose to be a part of it. We have some of the most caring, giving and loving foster families anywhere right here in Pike County and we want to express our heartfelt thanks to them for sharing their lives with these children."

Mitchell echoed the mayor's words of appreciation.

"It is an honor to thank foster families for their extraordinary gift of service to individual children and the larger community," Mitchell said. "I respect and admire the devoted foster families who open their homes and heart to children of all ages and circumstances.

"We at DHR thank foster families for their unconditional acceptance of children we bring to them at all hours of the day and night. The foster families are to be commended for tirelessly helping children to cope with separation from their birth families and the effects of child abuse and neglect."

Mitchell said it is important to recognize foster families for accepting the foster care challenge.

"We at DHR acknowledge that providing foster care is a tough task, as well as being rewarding," Mitchell said. "It requires courage and personal sacrifice to go the extra mile to provide safe, stable, supportive homes to unrelated children and young people who are struggling while unable to live with their birth families."

Mitchell expressed appreciation to the county's foster families who partner with children, DHR, birth families, United Methodist Children's Home, Family Finders, schools, courts, mental health practitioners, doctors and the larger community in improving the lives of children.