Foster care offers safe, loving homes
SUMMIT COUNTY – During the first 10 days of the month, Terese Keil is on call to offer a temporary, safe loving home for a child in need.She is one of the three foster care families in Summit County – and more are needed.”Some of the kids are so precious you hate to see them go,” she said, adding that the recent 15-month-old she took in for a day was one of them.Keil, a single mom with a teenager, got involved with the program 10 years ago after hearing about the need. And through being a foster parent, “I think I’ve learned a little bit of everything,” she said. It is very rewarding, and sometimes sad, she added. Also, it can really make a difference. Sometimes all a teenager needs is a night or two away to diffuse a bad situation, Keil said.”A lot of people are interested, but they don’t take the next step. … Take the next step and open your hearts and home. It is so needed in the community,” she said.May is National Foster Care Month, recognizing local families who help children maintain a sense of continuity as they work through turmoil in their lives, according to the Summit County Social Services Department.Currently, in Summit County, there are three foster families and two who are going through the certification training process. Families are required to have 20 hours of training each year. It is free and provided by the state.Families can attach parameters to the foster children regarding the age and gender they feel most comfortable bringing into their home and most often the child does not stay for longer than a month, Mary Lou Taylor, LPC, foster care coordinator for the county, wrote in an e-mail. The temporary need can stem from a variety of situations such as an arrest of a parent or the children being runaways. Last year, 15 children entered the program here, which puts Summit County among the lowest in the state.However, “even though we typically have low numbers of children entering the system each year, we always have a shortage of families who are willing to take teenagers at least on a short term basis,” Taylor wrote in an e-mail.Mary and Gary, another set of foster parents who have two elementary school aged girls of their own, got involved in foster care five years ago. Since then, between 30 and 40 children have stayed at their house, mostly for short periods of time.Mary described being a foster parent as fun, interesting and challenging. One child who had a longer term stay with the family called afterward to thank them – a moment that makes being a foster parent more than worth while, Mary said.”If you’ve got room in your heart, there’s a lot of kids out there who could use it,” she added.Anyone interested in finding out more about the foster care program in Summit County should call Mary Lou Taylor, LPC, foster care coordinator, at (970) 668-4155, or email@example.com. Among other qualifications, potential foster families should have some knowledge of child development and have the ability to provide physical and emotional care and appropriate supervision.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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