Meeting helps assess needs of local foster parents

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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It’s not just foster kids who need help sometimes; it’s the foster parents, too.

The Butler County Foster and Adoptive Association held a meeting Sept. 29, at the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the specific needs of foster parents.

Jennifer Langford, director of Butler County Department of Human Resources, opened the meeting by discussing the problems faced by DHR and foster parents.

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“We’ve got people here from foster care and our local churches,” Langford said. “We really wanted to get together and do an information session. Our need for foster homes is great … We don’t have any contracts with the McKenzie School and only two with the Georgiana School, so realistically, if a child comes into foster care in one of those areas, and there’s no foster home in those areas, then they have to change schools.”

She explained children who go through trauma and abuse don’t have a solid background in their education.

“It’s hard for the child to move to another school in the middle of the week,” Langford said. “They lose their bus driver, their teacher and sometimes that’s the only adults these children have in their lives who offer a soft hand.”

Langford explained DHR investigates many cases of child abuse and neglect in Butler County.

“Last year we had 114 cases of child abuse and neglect,” she said. “That’s a lot. Child abuse is in our town, it’s in our county. We know this. That’s 114 cases and 145 children.

“Right now, Butler County has 13 children in foster care. That’s not a huge number, but for Butler County that’s high.”

Langford explained what the purpose of foster care really is.

“I believe in foster care; but for us, foster care is a last resort,” she said. “We work really hard to keep these children with family and people they know. But there are times when that’s not a safe solution for the children.

“We need foster homes. I believe in my core that fostering is a mission. It is God’s work. I do not believe it’s for everybody. I believe they are called to do it. You don’t have to foster to be a part of what we do.”

She gave an example of the needs a foster family faces and how the community can help.

“On a Friday afternoon at 4:15, we picked up an eight-month-old baby,” Langford said. “The only thing we got with the eight-month-old baby was an eight-month-old baby. It would be great if a church group could provide dinner for this family for a couple of days, until they get used to a baby that they don’t know, that’s now in their house.”

Another example Langford suggested is scheduling a date night for foster parents.

“If your church could sponsor a safe, loving place for foster parents to drop off their kids for an hour or two, just to get things done, or go have dinner together, or just go back home and sit in the quiet,” Langford said. ““Offer to do the laundry or a grocery run; support at school events and prayer. It takes special people to do this.”

Tim Crist, manager of church operations and partnerships from Lifeline Children’s Services, served as  guest speaker for the event.