News

Schenectady Foster Parents Receive Much Needed Relief

Posted on: Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fosting Futures Art Work.jpgFoster parents are on the front line of the child welfare system, performing the essential role of providing temporary, safe, nurturing homes for children when their parents are unable to care for them.  They can be instrumental in transforming the lives of their foster children.

But parenting is challenging under most circumstances.  Caring for a child who has been removed from their biological family is particularly demanding – especially for children who have been neglected, abused, or have health or behavioral problems.  NYS Office of Children and Family Services reports there are approximately 70 foster homes in Schenectady County, but close to 200 children needing care. With more foster children requiring care than there are foster homes, it has become ever more important to find ways to support those homes – and to help foster parents be successful. 

There’s help on the way. A grant from The Schenectady Foundation will expand the Fostering Futures New York (FFNY) program in Schenectady County, providing teams of trained volunteers to support foster families 24/7.  

Fostering Futures brings a community solution to the challenges of foster parents.  FFNY staff works with local faith-based and community groups to identify, screen, train, support, and supervise the volunteer teams’ assistance in the day-to-day demands of foster parenting. Volunteers might help with simple tasks such as laundry, meal prep, or taking a sick child to a doctor appointment, or even taking a child to the park or a community event. Their support allows foster parents the ability to run their household while still maintaining the daily responsibilities of the family. In some cases, it even allows the foster parents to take some time for themselves, to recharge and relax in order to be better able to care for their families.

Foster parents truly welcome the assistance.  “After fostering more than 150 children in 22 years, my husband and I were approaching burnout. I thought we were going to have to give up fostering”, said one foster parent. “Now, I have a list of people to call when I need help, and it’s made all the difference.”

And the experience for the volunteers can be inspiring.  Said one volunteer team member: “As I sat last night playing cards with one of our family's children while another put my hair into seven pony tails, I found myself smiling. The project is a joy in and of itself, but there also is a benefit to the overburdened child welfare system, to our community and congregation, and of course, to a child”.

Each foster family served by FFNY has, on average, six children in their home, ranging in age from birth to 21 years, and includes children by birth, adoption, and foster care. Being a foster parent is a difficult job and there are limits to the support caseworkers can provide since they work with a number of families at one time. Caseworkers welcome the FFNY teams and view them as complementary to and supportive of their work with foster families and children.

For more information on Fostering Futures, and to find out how to volunteer go to:  http://www.welfareresearch.org/ffny.html.

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