Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Davis kids need foster care, too

Learn more

What: Yolo County foster care “meet and greet” session

When: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 5

Where: Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St., Davis

Info: www.yolofostercare.com

By Cherie Schroeder

Kids are hurt every day by people who should protect and keep them safe. This happens in Davis, too.

Over the past few years, on a fairly regular basis, a foster home has been needed in Davis. At no fault of the children, they have come under the umbrella of protective custody and have been placed in foster care.

These kids — Davis kids — have been bright and beautiful. They want and need a Davis family to help keep them safe — one who is ready, prepared and willing to accept them into their family. It isn’t known for how long placement is needed — a few days or month; it may be more than a year or longer, if the child cannot safely return to their family of origin. Many children who come into foster care need a permanent family, an adoptive home, one that will last a lifetime.

As a community, we need to do better. The babies and little ones brought into foster care often have several foster homes ready and willing to take them. This just isn’t the case for the older kids — school-age and above. If you are a teenager coming into foster care, there is a good chance a local family won’t be found.

This is such a tremendous loss for the child on top of everything else that has gone wrong in their life. A local placement allows them to keep friends, their school and community. It is easy to turn a blind eye and to think it is someone else’s problem. Really, it is all of our problem as they are the children of our community.

We need to do more. A ready list of homes is needed to allow a “best placement” to be made, to keep local kids in local families. Sadly, more than half of our county’s children end up placed in cities such as Lodi, Yuba City, Stockton or Elk Grove, many times in what is considered a higher level of care just because we don’t have a willing local foster family readily available.

For those who have taken a child into care, thank you. We know that as soon as we place you on the availability list, you are filled and the need comes right back up for the next child who comes along.

When people think of foster kids, they often believe somehow the child is at fault. That just isn’t true. Most foster kids are amazing. What they need to thrive and succeed is someone like you — a stable adult to provide safety, nurture them and make them feel valued and of worthy while they rebuild their trust in adults.

Foster kids have experienced the worst of humanity — addiction, homelessness, mental health issues, violence and fear. Someone like you can change that picture and open doors to a new and better future. My belief is, “all kids deserve a loving home.”

Each year, Davis has a handful of teenagers coming into foster care. Will you consider stepping up to make a difference? The kids placed into families are not delinquents. In fact, for many, school has been their safe haven and refuge. I’ve been a foster parent for two years now and I continue to be impressed by the resilience of the children. I can’t talk about specific issues or circumstances, but what I can share, for our family and that of others in our fostering circle, it has been one of the best decisions we ever made.

Fostering teenagers doesn’t have to be scary. You set the rules in your own house just like you would with your birth teenagers — curfew, prohibiting drugs and alcohol, monitoring school assignments and providing incentives for improvements. It is incredibly rewarding to know you are making a lasting impression and providing an opportunity for a child to experience a new way of life. It’s fun to share new experiences with someone, like camping, family movie night, swimming lessons, road trips and life skills such as learning to cook and gardening.

If you want to know more, take a few moments to look at the foster care education website, www.yolofostercare.com. And I invite you to an informal “meet and greet” from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in the Blanchard Room at the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St. in Davis, or from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, in the Community Room at the Turner Branch Library, 1212 Merkley Ave. in West Sacramento.

— Cherie Schroeder is director of foster and kinship care education at Woodland Community College.



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