Celebrate Foster Care Month in May

Published 1:07 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dear Editor,

Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to highlight the experiences of over 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system and raise awareness about the needs of children in care. Our goal for every child is to prevent the need for entry into foster care; however, when foster care is needed, we work very quickly to safely reunite children with family or relatives or find loving adoptive parents for these children.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of child welfare professionals, foster and adoptive families, elected officials and child advocates, the number of children in foster care has decreased. However, more help is needed to make sure the 130 children living in foster care in Shelby County do not grow up in a temporary foster care system.

Working as quickly as possible to help these children to safely reunite with parents or relatives or find an adoptive home will decrease the likelihood that they will leave the foster care system without lifelong families. We believe that there is a family for each and every child in Shelby County and our goal is to find that family and help each child create a life-long connection.

Foster children in Shelby County are currently in need of potential foster/adoptive homes that are willing to foster children that are 8 years of age or older with a focus on teenage foster children, as well as siblings groups of three or more.

In order to meet the needs of children in care, the foster/adoptive licensing process begins with an orientation and 10-week training course titled Group Preparation and Selection (GPS) for prospective foster/adoptive parents. The GPS classes meet one night per week from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Shelby County Department of Human Resources office located in Columbiana. Prospective foster/adoptive parents will be required to have fingerprint background checks, clear the abuse and neglect central registry and have two in home consultations during the ten week GPS training course.

GPS is designed to help foster and adoptive parents understand their role as a foster or adoptive parent, the role of the child and prepare and train them on how to become effective foster or adoptive parents. Additionally, GPS classes are designed as a mutual selection process for the Department of Human Resources and potential foster/adoptive families to assess if becoming foster/adoptive parents is appropriate for that individual or family unit.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation for the current families in Shelby County who have opened their hearts and homes to children living in foster care. There is no way we could meet the need without these individuals stepping forth to love and advocate for these children.

If you are interested and would like to sign up for an information session, training, or want to ask questions about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, you can contact Star Pope at Shelby County DHR via email at Star.Pope@dhr.alabama.gov, or via phone at 669-3041.

David Lee