Love Without Limits

Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Foster parents in BV County gives children another chance, urge others to 'just go for it'

Foster parenting can be enjoyable and rewarding, however there is a shortage of those who are willing to take a child into their home to gain the experience that has touched so many lives.

In hopes of responding to the need, the first "foster parenting open house" in the community is beiung held today, starting at 10 a.m. at Iowa Central Community College. The

program will go through the pros and cons of being a foster parent and answer any questions those attending may have.

There are 20 foster homes in Buena Vista County. There are 14 in Crawford, nine in Ida and eight in Sac.

"We don't want to ever limit the number of foster homes," said Teresa McElroy, foster and adoptive home recruiter for the Department of Human Services. "The more homes we have the better able we are to match the needs of the kids to the foster home's personality.

"Currently we're putting kids where there is an opening, which is not in the best interest of the child or the family, but we just have a shortage of foster homes."

A child that needs to be placed in foster care may have been abused, or often has been physically or emotionally neglected. The child's length of stay depends on his or her own family. A child is kept in foster care an average of six months to two years, according to McElroy.

"We are required by law to have children permanently placed in one year, but it's hard to do," McElroy said. "Usually by that time, they are reunited with their family, the parental rights have been terminated or the child is placed with an appropriate relative."

Many times the foster parents end up adopting the child, but they don't always adopt the child that they have cared for, which results in an even greater shortage of foster homes.

McElroy said it is sometimes hard on the foster parents as they often become attached to the child and have a hard time understanding when the system wants to place the child back with his or her parent.

According to McElroy, the need in Buena Vista County is for those who are willing and able to care for teenagers and sibling groups.

"We're usually looking for a foster home that will take a family of two or three kids," McElroy said. "Many homes are so full that the children end up getting split up and we don't like to do that. That's why there is such a need for more foster homes."

Dan and Priscilla Robinson are a Storm Lake couple involved in the foster parenting program and have greatly enjoyed their experience.

"I would encourage everyone to just go for it," Dan said. "We have enjoyed our experience and the need is just so great."

Read the rest of this article in the 10/28 Pilot Tribune.

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