TOLEDO - They are caregivers, role models, cheerleaders and advocates.
As Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) commemorates May 2008 as the 10th annual National Foster Care Month, it recognizes the important role that foster parents and kinship caregivers play in caring for abused and neglected children being served by the agency.
Most children are placed temporarily in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect if there is no suitable relative able to care for them. Last year in Lucas County, a quarter of the 1,895 children served by LCCS lived in one of the agency’s 328 foster homes. Another three percent lived in foster homes supervised by other area networks. Statewide, more than 17,700 children were in the foster care system in 2006. “Foster parents play an invaluable role in protecting children from abuse and neglect,” said Dean Sparks, executive director of LCCS. “We often call on them to take in a child or children who are being removed during a family emergency. Sometimes they care for children for extended periods of time, and even provide guidance to parents working toward reunification with their children. They open up their hearts and their homes to make sure that kids feel safe and secure,” he added.
Across Ohio, slightly more boys than girls are in foster care, and the largest groups in care are 11 to 15 years and 1 to 5 years old. The average length of stay for children in foster care is 27 months.
“We have a tremendous need for new foster and adoptive parents in Lucas County,” Sparks continues. “We provide care for children of all ages, ethnic and racial groups and developmental abilities. We need a wide variety of foster parents to meet the needs of these children,” he says. LCCS strives to keep children in their own neighborhoods, which means that the agency needs foster homes countywide.
LCCS welcomes foster parents age 21 or older who are single, married or partnered. Applicants will attend free training classes and undergo a background check. Foster parents can own or rent their home, and can work outside the home. Their income needs to be sufficient to meet their own needs, but they will receive a monthly stipend to help cover the cost of caring for the child or children living with them.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent through Lucas County Children Services, call 419-213-3336.