LIMA —Allen County Children’s Services Board met with prospective foster parents at a special event at Biggby Coffee on Harding Highway in Lima.
Ann Jenkins, Special Service Supervisor for the CSB, said that the event, which was the third installation over the last year, was successful and a great opportunity for the prospective parents.
“This has been great,” she said. “We have a family that’s here and is talking with us. We have two foster parents that are with us to provide additional information about what it’s like to be a foster parent with our agency.”
Amber Huber, a longtime foster parent who spoke to the group, said that being a foster parent is a scary idea, but that it is one of the most rewarding experiences she has ever had in her life.
“It’s more rewarding than you can imagine,” she said. “It’s very hard, but they are little lives. And at the end of the day, they didn’t choose this. You’re making a bigger difference than you can imagine.”
Jenkins said that families coming in asked about how long the process lasts to become a foster parent, and that usually takes about six months including training. And she said she answered questions about the types of kids that come into care, as well as the costs associated with being a foster parent.
“We do a home assessment on the family and gather a lot of paperwork,” she said. “We do background checks to make sure they are able to work with our kids.”
Huber said that she first got into foster parenting when her husband’s cousin’s child needed a guardian.
“And we were the last family that they could turn to so we had to get licensed,” she said. “That was what got us into it. So no matter what your circumstances are, it’s scary. Because you don’t know what you’re walking into.”
But that was the purpose of the meeting.
“I think it’s good that we’re able to reach out to the community and answer questions,” said Huber. “Because it’s not intimidating. You’re not really setting up the official meeting because it’s kind of scary, but you can just sit and chill and have a long conversation and get every question answered that you might have, whether it’s dumb or not. I think that ‘s important that we were able to offer ourselves for the people interested.”
Jenkins said that for anyone else interested in getting involved with foster work in Allen County, they can call the Children’s Services Board at 419-227-8590 or check out the board’s website to read over the steps that it takes to become a foster parent and ask any questions they might have.
Jenkins added that, as there were previous meetings like this in the last summer and preceding winter, there will be another one sometime this spring or summer.
According to AdoptUSKids, Ohio has more than 6000 foster parents. On any given day, “nearly 16,000 children are being care for away from their parents” and more than 9000 of them live with foster parents. Additionally, more than 2600 children in Ohio are awaiting adoption, 1000 of them teenagers and many of them part of a sibling group.
Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.