May is Foster Care Month

By: Betsy Kimbler, Foster Care Coordinator, Shelby County Job and Family Services

There are approximately 15,000 children in foster care in the state of Ohio. These children are placed in one of the states’ 7,400 foster homes. To bring that a little closer to home, Shelby County Job and Family Services – Children Services Division placed 57 children into foster care in 2022. Shelby County Children Services currently has 9 licensed foster homes, with several more families in the process of becoming licensed.

May is recognized as Foster Care Month. This is the time of year that Shelby County Job and Family Services likes to recognize our foster parents and show our appreciation for them. Our foster families work hard to ensure that the needs of the children in their care are being met by providing loving, safe, and stable environments for children who, for one reason or another, cannot stay in their own home. Our foster parents love being able to provide a “normal” environment to children who are going through a hard time.

Being a foster parent means providing a selfless service to the community. Providing for a child’s basic needs barely scratches the surface of what foster parents do for a child. Our foster parents are empathetic and patient when a child in their care is dealing with trauma. Foster parents celebrate the foster child’s accomplishments with them and help to provide comfort when the child is sad or upset. Our foster parents advocate endlessly for their foster children. Foster parents fill the role of a parent and come to love the children in their care, knowing that that reunification is the goal, and it is likely that the children in their care will end up returning to their own home. It is a bittersweet act of service.

Even though foster care can be bittersweet, many foster parents find the experience rewarding as well. One of our foster parents said the most rewarding thing about being a foster parent is “knowing that these kids are safe, clean, healthy and happy.” The rewards to providing foster care are often heart-warming and unexpected. The foster parent goes on to say fostering is “such a rewarding feeling knowing you are helping mold a child who is happy and healthy and will leave a positive impact on the world.”

If you feel like you can make a difference, or have questions about foster care, we encourage you to reach out to us. In addition to background checks and interviews, potential foster parents must be 18 years of age, able to meet basic income guidelines, have reliable transportation, and stable housing. Foster families going through the licensing process take special training to help prepare them to foster.

If you are unsure whether you would meet these qualifications, feel free reach out to us. We are happy to answer any questions and help you through the process. As one of our foster parents said “I think people have this notion that only certain people can be foster parents, and that’s not true. If you think you can provide a happy, healthy, and safe home for a child, then you should consider being a foster parent. It’s the best thing we’ve done.”

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent through Shelby County Job and Family Services -Children Services Division, please reach out to Betsy Kimbler at 937-498-4981 extension 2843, or email her at [email protected].

The writer is the foster care coordinator for Shelby County Job and Family Services.