King’s Home launches foster care program

By Emily Reed / Special to the Reporter

King’s Home in Chelsea launched a new foster care initiative on Oct. 1.

An open house is planned for Oct. 17 at the King’s Home campus, located at 221 King’s Home Drive in Chelsea at the Home Support Building.

The King’s Home Therapeutic Foster Care Program helps provide loving, nurturing homes to children and teens in the custody of Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR).

In many cases, the children have been abused, neglected and are in need of a safe, healing home, according to information provided by The King’s Home.

King’s Home foster care parents will provide children with the chance to heal and grow while focusing on their emotional, academic and spiritual needs.

King’s Home matches foster parents with children ages six to 18 who need stable nurturing homes and a chance for a better life.

Jennifer Lackey, operations director at King’s Ranch, said one of the greatest needs right now is finding potential foster parents.

“Foster parents can be single or married and most work as well,” Lackey said. “The minimum age is 25 and all foster parents undergo extensive training prior to becoming certified to serve as foster parents.”

Lackey said the initial screening process to become a foster parent includes completing an application, orientation and background checks.

An extensive 12-week training is provided to everyone that meets the criteria, and King’s Home provides the training before a foster child is placed in the home.

There is also a 24-hour support that is provided when needed to the foster parents, Lackey said.

“Serving as a foster parent is a special calling,” Lackey said. “King’s Home will provide spiritual support and case management support to all foster parents. Fostering is a team effort and we work together to best serve the child. A monthly tax-free stipend is provided to the foster parents to cover the child’s expenses.”

Although there is currently no children in the foster care program, the group homes serve an average of 65 adolescents per day.

“Unfortunately, the number of children and adolescents in need of safe and stable homes continues to increase,” Lackey said. “In Alabama, approximately 5,000 children and adolescents are in foster care, placed in either group homes or foster homes. In Jefferson and Shelby County alone, there are over 500 children in foster care and a shortage of foster homes. There are not enough foster homes in Shelby County or the surrounding counties to serve the foster children which can result in multiple children placed in foster homes or children being placed several hours away from their family.”

Lackey said King’s Home provides Therapeutic Foster Care, which is a special category of foster care that serves youth that have typically experienced extreme abuse and/or neglect.

The children are in need of additional counseling services to help them heal from past traumas.

In addition to providing licenses counselors, King’s Home offers art therapy, a horticultural program, equine program, and spiritual development.

For the older teens, employment opportunities working with the horses, garden and art are also available, according to Lackey.

“The combination of these services in conjunction with also meeting their spiritual needs leads to greater success for the adolescents,” Lackey said. “King’s Home is the only Therapeutic foster care agency based in Shelby County.”

The open house is open to the public.

For more information, call 775-1805 or visit www.kingshome.com.