Become a foster parent for Shelby County


By Betsy Kimbler - Guest columnist



Kimbler

Kimbler


Child abuse and neglect occurs regularly in our communities. Due to this, it is sometimes necessary to remove children from their homes to ensure their safety. This isn’t a decision that is made lightly, and it is always done with court supervision. When a child is removed from their home, Shelby County Job and Family Services – Children Services Division and the local court develop a case plan that helps the family work toward reunification. Shelby County Children Services Division makes every effort to place removed children with suitable family members, but unfortunately, sometimes this isn’t possible. In 2021, Shelby County Children Services Division placed 45 children into agency custody.

When children are placed into the custody of Shelby County Children Services Division, it becomes necessary to find placement for them. Foster parents provide a safe home for the children to stay in while the family works toward reunification. Foster parents need to be supportive to the children they take in and help provide for their physical and emotional well-being. Foster parents are responsible for providing stability and guidance to the children in their homes.

Many people do not realize this, but due to the lack of foster parents in our county, Shelby County Children Services Division must send children to foster parents who reside outside of Shelby County. Due to the lack of local foster parents, children are being sent away from their schools, their friends, and everything they have known, during one of the most difficult points in their lives. Shelby County Children Services currently has 10 foster families, with several of those residing outside of the county. It is our responsibility and duty to keep children in the most familiar setting, if possible, in order to reduce any more unnecessary trauma.

Another common misconception is regarding the type children that come in to foster care. Many people sign up for foster care only wanting children who are young and free from any behavioral or medical issues. The children that come into agency custody have often been traumatized by the abuse and neglect that they have experienced. The reality is that sometimes trauma in children presents itself as undesirable behaviors. The reality is that sometimes children have medical issues or developmental issues. The reality is that many of the children that come into agency custody are not babies or toddlers, but rather grade school children or older, who have experienced years of trauma. None of these things are the child’s fault, and these children still deserve to be placed in a home in their community where their needs will be met. Shelby County Children Services Division makes every effort to help foster families who are dealing with “difficult” children by connecting them with the appropriate providers or getting the proper evaluations and services.

The state of Ohio has recently changed some of the requirements for foster parents. Foster parents must be at least 18 years of age. The marital status of a foster parent does not matter. A foster parent must be able to meet basic income guidelines, have reliable transportation, and have adequate bedroom space and separate beds for each foster child. Foster parents must take 36 hours of pre-service training to expand their knowledge base and strengthen their ability to foster.

The licensing process can take up to 180 days after an application is turned in. In addition to the preservice training, a foster parent will undergo extensive interviews with a caseworker, complete background checks, provide references, and complete medical and financial statements. While this may seem like a complex process, don’t let it scare you. Our agency will offer support throughout the licensing process. Our agency is fortunate to have a foster care coordinator, who is available to our licensed foster parents to answer any questions, provide support, and help with any needs that may arise.

Shelby County Children Services Division needs your help. Our county needs people who are willing to step up and make a difference in our community. Our county needs people who want to have a positive impact on local children by opening their hearts and their homes to them. This community, our community, needs people who are willing to become foster parents.

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

Kimbler
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By Betsy Kimbler

Guest columnist

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

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