Foster Care at OhioGuidestone- Story in Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine
OhioGuidestone’s Brittany Edelbrock MSW, LSW talked to Northeast Ohio Parent magazine’s Angela Gartner about the need for foster homes across Ohio. OhioGudiestone’s foster care services offer training and support for foster parents and specialized training for parents who foster a child considered medically fragile. Read the story below.
Foster Care Parents Needed As Children Entering System Continues to Rise
Not every child is safe. There is a child or sibling group, somewhere in Northeast Ohio, today, who will have to leave their current home environment, due to abuse, neglect or other circumstances where their family is unable to care for them, and take their first step into foster care. But, where will they go? That is the question.
“Currently there are more than 9,000 children who live with foster parents, and over 16,000 children total in the state of Ohio, who are residing away from their biological family (kinship, residential, etc),” says Brittany Edelbrock LISW at OhioGuidestone. “This number is continuing to rise and has become a definite problem for foster families and agencies. The need to find these children homes is so high.”
For Summit County Children Services, they are finding children who enter into the system, are not transitioning out, in fact, have risen.
“Since the opioid epidemic and then the pandemic with mental health crisis we’ve seen less engaged parents in services and visitation to safely reunify with their children,” says Ann Ream, department director of community relations and foster care for Summit County Children Services. “We finalized 85 adoptions last year. Which is wonderful in creating so many new forever families. However, we still have the same number of children in our permanent custody, as unfortunately, it’s just a trend that is not stopping. Often, we see that when one of our foster families adopts a child or sibling group they then find their family complete and close their home to foster more children. So it creates more need for foster homes for us.”
While there’s a need to help children, families who might be interested in foster care, might not know where to begin. In fact, according to Edelbrock, some common myths about foster care are foster care parents do this for the money, they have to own their own homes, and must be a married, heterosexual couple to foster, which all are untrue.
“Some things that potential foster parents need to know is that you do not need any type of parenting experience to become a caregiver,” she says. “There is a preservice training to help you understand the process, and just like any other parent, it’s a learning curve. While so many agencies like OhioGuidestone have tried to raise awareness about the cycle of child abuse and help educate families so that abuse does not occur, it is still happening, and therefore there is still a need for loving homes, educated caregivers, and trauma-informed care.”
Ream adds, “These children need care, a stable home, and most importantly, a family. Families in our community served by Summit County Children’s Services have complex challenges and foster parents can forever make an enormous difference in the life of a child.”