May is Foster Care Month and Need for Additional Foster Homes ContinuesMay 23, 2016
May is National Foster Care Month, and Athens County Children Services is calling attention to the increasing number of children needing foster care. With more than 100 children currently in care in Athens County, there is a constant need for licensing additional foster homes to provide a nurturing home for local children.
At the end of 2015 the agency had 96 children in custody. As of May 15, 2016 there were 108 children in agency custody. ACCS staff have reason to expect those trends to continue. “Due to the impact of heroin and other drug addictions on the young parents in our community, we are in the midst of a critical shortage of foster families to care for children whose parents are battling drug addiction, said Cathy Hill, Executive Director. “We urge members of the Athens Community to step forward to help meet this challenge by becoming licensed foster parents”, Hill added.
“Foster homes play a critical role in providing safety and stability for children while their birth families work towards reunification,” said Tanja Kuhre, Foster Parent Recruiter and Trainer for Athens County Children Services. “We hope by making our community aware of the vital need for more homes in Athens County, more people will considering opening their home and their hearts to children in need,” Kuhre added.
“There are a lot of misperceptions about what it takes to become a foster parent,” said Angie Blakemen, Foster Care Placement Supervisor at ACCS. “For example, people are often surprised to learn that foster parents can be married, single, divorced, own their own home, or rent,” Blakeman added.
“Anyone interested in learning more about the process to becoming a foster parent are encouraged to just give me call,” Kuhre said. “We always emphasize that there is no obligation to move forward in the process and we provide all the training and support potential caregivers will need,” she added. “Most people find that their fears go away as soon as they realize the impact they are making on children who truly need them.” People interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent can call Tanja Kuhre at 750-592-3061 ext. 105.
In addition to recruitment efforts, ACCS will took time this month to recognize and honor current foster care providers. At a banquet last Friday night, ACCS honored their 36 licensed foster families, who have cumulatively given 342 years of service to children and families of Athens County. Steve and Roberta Pullins were honored with the Foster Caregivers of the Year Award, while several other families were recognized for their outstanding service as well. Blakeman added, “While we know they do not do this vital work for the recognition, it is important that our foster parents know how valued their service is.”
To find out more about how you can help children in foster care in Athens County, call ACCS at 740-592-3061.