A virtual resource foster parent event will be held Thursday, Oct. 7, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The organizer says it is a great opportunity for anyone who is curious about being a foster parent to get questions answered. 

“This will be a fun, light-hearted event,” explained Andrea Bellows, resource family retention and recruitment coordinator for the Oregon Department of Human Services. “Participants will get an honest look at what it means to be a resource parent. It won’t be sugar coated.”

The event will feature four resource foster families who will offer firsthand knowledge about what it is like to care for kids as a foster parent. There will also be home certifiers available to answer questions related to the certification process.

“The beginning of the school year is a perfect time for people to make the commitment to help kids stay in their schools and their communities,” Bellows said.

Children in foster care are too often separated not only from their families but also from their friends, schools and communities. By providing resource care, neighbors and other community members can make it possible for a child to stay in the same school and participate in other regular activities such as sports, church, riding bikes with friends and visiting familiar places.

Lincoln County, like most areas in Oregon, needs more resource foster families to become certified. The most recent data shows 59 children are currently in 43 resources homes in the county.

Bellows said their goal is to have enough families that children could be matched with those who share similar characteristics. People of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and races are needed to help children grow with a strong sense of racial and cultural identity. LGBT affirming people are also needed as well as people willing to foster siblings. “If a child has a commonality with their resource parents, they are more likely to adjust and not feel alone,” Bellows said.

There is also a high demand for resource parents who can care for sibling groups, ensuring brothers and sisters can stay together. Families that enjoy working with teens and can guide them toward a positive future are also in high demand.

There is no set standard for being a resource parent. Older adults, single people or couples with or without children may care for children in foster care. Applicants should possess the ability to exercise sound judgment and demonstrate a responsible, stable and emotionally mature lifestyle.

“You can be single, a senior, gay or live in a multi-generational home,” Bellows said. “What is important is that the kids are cared for until they can go back home.”

Foster care is a temporary living arrangement for children who need a safe place to live when their parents or guardians cannot safely take care of them. Most children are in foster care because of a history of abuse or neglect.

The average stay for a child in foster care is 19 months. “Those include children that are in foster care for just one day to those that get adopted,” Bellows said.

The procedure to become a resource parent includes 24 hours of required training, an application process and a home study before someone can be certified.

“Any person who has thought about this should try it now,” Bellows said. “There is never a perfect time to do something that is so important, but now is that time.”

Contact Bellows at Andrea.Bellows2@dhsoha.state.or.us or 971-501-0941 to register for this free event.

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