May is National Foster Care Month |
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May is National Foster Care Month
National Foster Care Month in May provides us the opportunity to show appreciation for the dedication of the foster and adoptive parents in our community who care for the children and youth temporarily or permanently separated from their birth families. It is a time also to recognize the many others: volunteers, mentors and child advocates who work diligently with our foster youth to provide support and offer hope.
On May 1st in Stark County, 465 children and youth were living away from their biological parents and being cared for by alternative caregivers. Most of those caregivers are foster and adoptive parents, licensed by Stark County Job and Family Services (SCJFS). We honor our foster and adoptive parents each May with an annual Foster Parent Recognition Banquet during which their notable contributions are acknowledged and their years of service recognized.
During the past year, we resolved to improve the communication and collaboration between SCJFS and our foster and adoptive parents through the following initiatives, and those efforts continue:
- A workgroup of foster parents and staff was established early in 2011 and continues to meet regularly with Nedra Petro, the Deputy Director of Children Services.
- The Foster Parent Forum was initiated last June with monthly meetings during which foster and adoptive parents can gather to share experiences and provide mutual support.
- Monthly coffee chats were held the last quarter of 2011 and will be continued in 2012. Information and suggestions from those meetings provided valuable insight into areas for improvement that we continue to pursue.
- In the fall of 2011, a panel of foster parents shared their knowledge and experience in a presentation to our Children Services Division staff.
Foster youth who are graduating from high school will be recognized at our annual "Rising Up and Moving On" celebration in June. Many of the graduates will be attending college this fall, following in the footsteps of two very special former foster youth whose recent college graduations will also be recognized and celebrated. These educational accomplishments speak not only to the achievements of the young adults, but also to the individual contributions of the foster families, educators, SCJFS staff and community partners who supported their efforts and applaud their success.
Finally, National Foster Care Month in May provides me with the opportunity to thank our many foster and adoptive parents, the Children Services' staff and the numerous community partners and volunteers who make a difference in the lives of our foster and adoptive children and youth. You are each an incredible asset to the Stark County community.
If you have ever considered becoming a foster or adoptive parent, I urge you to call us at 330-451-8789. There are many children of all ages in need of foster or adoptive homes.