DHR looks for more foster parents

Published 10:05 am Monday, August 9, 2010

Opening our homes to others is part of a Southern tradition, a tradition of hospitality and comfort. But that hospitality and comfort should be extended to others in need here in Crenshaw County.

Lesa Syler, director of the Crenshaw County Department of Human Resources, sees first-hand the needs of so many of the children in our county, thus leading to the growing need for new foster parents.

Syler told the Luverne Kiwanis Club recently that the number of foster homes has decreased not only locally but across the state.

“In Crenshaw County, we currently have 23 children in foster care. There are 12 foster homes now in the county, but they are all full,” Syler said.

And if DHR receives a case where there are several siblings, they make every effort to keep the families together. However, this will sometimes cause them to have to place all of the children from one family outside of the county, just so they can all remain under one roof.

“This, of course, puts the children in a new school, a new church environment, and a new neighborhood, which can add to their trauma,” Syler explained.

The Crenshaw County DHR has had to place children as far away as Shelby County, but the majority who go outside of the county go to either Pike or Covington.

Foster care can be short-term or long-term, depending on the situation. In the last month alone, DHR has dealt with children from ages 8 months to 17 years old.

Syler said that DHR looks to place the children with relatives first; if that can’t be done, then they look to their foster parents, whom Syler praised as being “always ready to help.”

DHR also works with the biological parents of the children in foster care for the next 12-15 months in order to help them with their parenting and coping skills. If that is not a successful venture, DHR will then pursue legal termination of the biological parents’ legal rights.

“Our Crenshaw County foster parents have also kept children from other counties, which shows their dedication to their ‘calling,'” she said.

Mental illness or drug and/or alcohol addictions of the biological parents are 90 percent of the reasons why children are removed from the homes, according to Syler’s statistics.

“DHR is always looking for new foster parents, whether you are single or married, to help these children when they need it most,” she said. “No one said it was easy, but the rewards can be wonderful.”

For more information about becoming a foster parent in the county, please contact Crenshaw County DHR at 334-335-7000.