Foster parents provide children with love, protection, and a listening ear so they can learn to bond. This can help them feel happy and secure, and eventually become caring adults.
Families interested in one of the many ways to make a difference through foster care can join a Zoom meeting next week. Rick Hensley, foster care and adoption recruiter for Adair, Cherokee, and Sequoyah counties, is hosting it Tuesday, Jan. 26.
"We are holding the Zoom meeting to provide a safe, no-contact way in which community members can learn more about how to become a foster or adoptive parent through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services or one of our partner agencies," said Hensley.
With the number of COVID-19 cases being so high, they believe this is a safer option that will help limit the spread of the virus, said Hensley, who is with Oklahoma Fosters through Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Those with a willingness to open their hearts and homes to children in need are good candidates for fostering, he said.
"Candidates must be willing to work toward reunifying the child with their biological family," Hensley said.
Candidates must be 21 years or older and pass background and child welfare history checks.
"Passing a background does not mean you do not have anything in your past. Candidates may be considered if the history is more than five years old and is not a crime of violence or a crime against a child," he said.
Other requirements include having sufficient beds and bedrooms for additional children; sufficient income to meet current expenses; willingness to complete a home study; and attending free training. Candidates must complete 27 hours of Resource Family Training, which can be done in person or online. Once a candidate is approved as a foster or adoptive parent, he or she must complete 12 hours of training each year.
"Upon placement of a child in your home, DHS and-or your recruitment agency will make regular contact with you, as well as provide support including ongoing training, support groups, child care for foster children, home visits, team meetings, phone consultations, and a formal process for sharing your concerns," said Hensley.
Each child in DHS custody has coverage through Medicaid, known as SoonerCare, which covers pharmacy, behavioral health, and specialty and regular doctor visits with no copay for the foster parent.
"If you have ever thought about doing foster care, now is the time. We need you," said Hensley.
Currently in Cherokee County, there are 88 children in custody by DHS. Due to lack of foster homes in the county, 62 children have been placed in homes in other counties, and 18 have been separated from their siblings.
To join the Zoom meeting "How to Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent" on Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m., go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83394217550?pwd=T1Y2aTYrdzd5M0ZWWHhVVm9nVElRZz09. Meeting ID: 833 9421 7550, Passcode: gK32ML. Those unable to attend the Zoom meeting and are interested in becoming a foster parent can go to www.okbenefits.org to fill out an application.