MIAMI COUNTY — Community members considering becoming foster parents have been able to gain insights into the “day-in-the-life” of a foster family through the “Open Forum on Fostering” events in the region. New locations have been added as a result of the positive feedback from programs that took place in Troy and Urbana.
On Thursday, March 22, from 6-7 p.m., an Open Forum on Fostering will be held at the Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library, 12 N. Main St., Pleasant Hill.
On Thursday, April 5, from 6-7 p.m., an Open Forum on Fostering will be held at the Piqua Miami County YMCA, 223 W. High St., Piqua.
Both events are open to the community and include free childcare for children ages 3-10 with a reservation. There will be a drawing at the end for a $50 Kroger gift card, and light refreshments are being served.
The open forums are being presented by Isaiah’s Place Therapeutic Foster Care agency as a way for community members to explore options for helping with the current foster care crisis.
“We are seeing increased interest in fostering as people hear more about the effects of the opioid epidemic, and as the community at large becomes more aware of the need for foster parents,” said Shelly Calvert, director of business development for Isaiah’s Place and coordinator of the forums.
“We always tell people a conversation is not a commitment. We want people to feel comfortable coming to the forums without feeling pressured,” Calvert said. “Sometimes people want to help with needs in the foster care community, but they aren’t necessarily able or ready to become a foster parent. Some people have thought about foster parenting, but just aren’t sure how to distinguish facts from myths. There are many ways to help the foster care community. Having an open forum with a casual format allows for a flow of information.”
Last year, 437,465 children were in foster care in the United States, according to statistics reported from The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. In Ohio, more than 14,000 children were in foster care. In counties all across Ohio, including those in our region, there are more children who need a home than there are foster homes.
“Many people are curious about helping with the current foster care crisis, but they are not sure of the licensing process, they think something in their past may disqualify them from becoming foster parents, or they think it’s just not for them,” said Molly Snow, licensing specialist for Isaiah’s Place. “We want to have an open conversation about what these kids need, what the compensation looks like and what it takes to become a foster parent, so they can make an informed decision.”
The need for foster homes has risen significantly in Miami County since 2015, according to Bob Lybarger, executive director for Isaiah’s Place. While there are many factors that will displace children from their families, Miami County is seeing the same drastic rise in drug related cases of children entering foster care that faces the nation.
“Our communities need people to step up and help these kids. It’s not their fault that they are in these situations, and they find themselves with no one to trust,” Snow explained. “Sometimes it’s as simple as having one adult in their life that genuinely cares about them that can make the difference between a child succeeding or becoming another statistic.”
The format will be informal, and will include an introduction, followed by three professionals in the industry who will briefly discuss the common myths surrounding foster parenting, explain what it looks like to bring foster children into your home, share the compensation for fostering and explain the licensing process. The program will then turn to questions for the guest panel, so community members will be able to address their questions to the specialists.
The staff at the Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library will provide an activity for any children who attend with their parents. Please RSVP so the library may plan for the children.
The Piqua YMCA will allow children to play in their Child Watch room where staff members will be present.
Isaiah’s Place, which has received charity accreditation from the Dayton area Better Business Bureau, is a member of the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies (OACCA) and the national organization Family Focus Treatment Association (FFTA). It is a treatment foster care agency, which means they will train foster parents to handle children who have been abused, neglected and traumatized. The agency, which began in 2003, has an on-site training facility and is using a nationally recognized trauma informed, evidence-based program to give foster parents the tools and resources to ensure positive outcomes for foster children. Isaiah’s Place has programs to support foster families such as on-going training, family events, and a program called “We Love Birthday Parties.”
To make a reservation for childcare for either of the open forum events, call Isaiah’s place at 335-3701 one day prior to the event. To learn more about Isaiah’s Place and it’s programs, visit www.isaiahsplace.com.