SIDNEY — Some children find themselves in need of a safe home in which to reside when their current one is unsafe. This is when foster parents are called upon.
“A foster home is one that would provide safety, stability, guidance and support for children while the child welfare agency attempts to work a Reunification Plan with the previous caregivers. The Reunification Plan consists of services that the caregivers are required to complete through Shelby County Juvenile Court,” said Ashley Sherry, Foster Care/Adoption worker at Shelby County Children Services.
“These services may include mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, and parent coaching. If it is found that the caregivers are making improvements in the areas of concern, the children would then be transitioned back into the home of the caregiver with the child welfare agency and other service providers monitoring the transition and full-time return of the children to the home,” she said. “It is the ultimate goal of the agency for children to return home with their caregivers.”
Occasionally, the child is unable to return home because parents fail to complete their goals, and the home remains unsafe. In those cases, the child may become eligible for permanent placement.
Many people believe that foster parents must be married and have a large income. This is far from the truth.
“In order to become a licensed foster parent, an individual must be at least 21 years of age. One does not need to be married, own a home or earn a high income. An applicant must complete preservice training, extensive interviews with a case worker, complete FBI/BCI background checks, complete medical statements and financial information, and much more. Any public children services agency is allotted 180 days to complete the home study process, beginning with the day the agency receives the complete initial application,” said Sherry.
Although there are currently 24 children in permanent or temporary custody of the agency, only eight of them are in foster homes licensed by the agency. A private network foster home agency houses 13 children.
Two licensed foster care providers are in Sidney. Four providers are in Anna with two in Fort Loramie. The remaining providers are located outside Shelby County.
“The need for foster parents within Shelby County has increased drastically due to the drug epidemic and overall continued abuse and neglect of children. The agency is in desperate need of foster parents for children newborn through 18, or 21 years of age if a developmental disability exists,” said Sherry.
Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a foster and/or adoptive parent, should contact Sherry at 937-498-4981, ext. 2839.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.