Foster parents needed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Three years ago, Minnie Richards hears an advertisement on the radio saying there was a need for foster parents.

She did not hesitate to open her heart and her home.

&uot;It was a challenge,&uot; she said.

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&uot;But it was what I expected it to be.&uot;

Her first foster child lived with her for one year before he was able to live with his parents again.

Richards said her fist experience was good because she knew the boy's parents very well and because she had attended classes before he came to live with her.

One of those same classes began last night at Collegedale Church of Christ.

The class is given through the United Methodist Children's Home-Therapeutic Foster Care Program and is designed to train prospective foster parents.

&uot;All prospective foster or adoptive parents can attend,&uot; said Dana Wilkes, who is a social worker for the Pike County Department of Human Resources.

&uot;They go through a 10 week class for a total of 30 hours.&uot;

She said the class allows the parents to learn about what they are volunteering for and allows DHR to find suitable homes. Wilkes said she visits each home twice during the 10-week course to determine if the home is suitable.

&uot;Sometimes we'll get into a home and decide it isn't ready for foster children,&uot; she said.

&uot;Or, parents will learn about the behaviors and responsibilities in caring for a foster child and select out.&uot;

Wilkes said foster parents have to complete a lot of paperwork and provide special care to some foster children.

Even though some children may have severe problems due to their own family experiences, as a whole, they are normal children.

&uot;They're not different from your own kids,&uot; Richards said.

&uot;Some have a little more problems than others, but they're still just ordinary kids.&uot;

Wilkes said problems in foster children stem from abuse, neglect, or displacement.

She said children who are moved from home to home question their self-worth and wonder who they are and where they fit in.

&uot;When a child has a certain behavior, he is trying to express a need,&uot; she said.

&uot;It doesn't mean that he's bad.&uot;

Wilkes said a common behavioral issue is anger at being put in foster homes.

&uot;They've got to blame somebody, and they won't blame their birth parents, they just won't,&uot; she said.

Like Richards said, the behavioral problems found in foster children aren't anything parents can't handle.

And Richards and Wilkes said foster parents aren't alone in caring for their foster children.

&uot;There's a group of us that works together,&uot; Richards said.

&uot;There are case workers and social workers and advisors.&uot;

Wilkes said the social workers and case workers provide a partnership in parenting.

&uot;It is a rewarding experience however difficult it may be,&uot; Wilkes said.

Richards said it is rewarding to be a foster parent.

She said in some cases the children have lost a loved one or are unable to live with their parents for a period of time.

&uot;I feel like I make a difference,&uot; she said.

For more information about foster parenting, call 807-6127 or 807-6145.