Couple impacts community by opening homePublished 8:23am Thursday, April 18, 2013
For nearly four years, Tim and Lindsey Croley have opened their door and hearts to children in need.
The couple is one of seven foster families in Butler County, and has provided a home for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 children. Some have stayed with the Croleys for a night, while others have stayed for years.
Lindsey, who is a teacher in the Lowndes County School District, said the couple became interested in serving as a foster family in part because she taught several students that were in foster care.
“I had students in my room who were in foster care, and my heart just really went to them,” she said. “Tim and I decided that we wanted to try to be a positive place for children while they were not able to be in their parents’ home. We jumped in with both feet and were licensed after being married just over a year. It has been such a blessing to us.”
Lindsey admits that serving as a foster parent isn’t without its difficulties, but she is quick to point out that the rewards more than make up for them.
The challenge is always when the child leaves,” she said. “Part of your heart leaves. I want to encourage people to not let that keep them from helping the precious children who need them. We are blessed to keep in touch with many of the children who have been in our home. (The Department of Human Resources) also encourages families to allow the children to continue to stay in touch with their foster families as they know strong bonds are formed.
“The rewards are endless! I love watching them learn and grow. It is also really rewarding when the family works to get things in order so that the children can return home to a positive situation.”
Tim said he views being a foster parents and being a resource for the community.
“It’s just the satisfaction of knowing that you’re able to help those who otherwise would not be able to help themselves,” he said. “We felt there was a need in the community and we felt that we could be a resource and fill that need and that’s what we plan to do.”
April Lowery, Butler County Department of Human Resources supervisor of foster and ongoing services, said DHR could use more families like the Croleys.
“We always have a shortage of foster homes,” Lowery said. “It’s not just us, though, it’s all the counties in our area. We have some great foster homes here in the county, but we keep them full.”
Lowery said when there is no available space in one of the county’s foster homes, DHR is forced to send the child out of county to a foster home that has available space.
“We don’t like to do that, but sometimes we have to,” she said.
Currently, Butler County has 24 children in foster care at its seven foster homes.
Anyone without felonies or child abuse or neglect charges over the age of 19 can become a foster parent, if the person has the resources to meet the child’s needs.
Foster parents can be single or married and can be licensed for one to six children.
“It takes a special person to be a foster parent,” Lowery said. “It’s not an easy job, and not everyone is cut out for it. It really is a calling, but it’s a chance to make a big difference in the lives of these precious children.”
Lindsey Croley, who within the last year adopted the first foster child she ever cared for, encourages anyone interested in becoming a foster parent to go for it.
“I want people considering foster parenting to know that it is an opportunity to really make a difference,” she said. Every situation won’t be perfect, and you will make mistakes, but we have such an awesome support group. The foster parents (in Butler County) meet each month, and we are always working to help one another as we help the children. Also, the workers at DHR do everything they can to support you. Foster parenting is really a team effort, and we have a great team.”
The Butler County Foster Parents Association meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Butler County Department of Human Resources at 109 Caldwell St. in Greenville.
Croley said anyone interested in possibly serving as a foster parent is welcome to attend a meeting and get answers to questions he or she may have.
Those interested can also call DHR at (334) 382-4400.