Local groups sponsor foster care information meeting Monday in Pratt

Michael Blackford
Pratt Tribune
Joy Schwartz (front) and her crew from DCCCA helped plan and facilitate a foster care informational meeting last Monday in Pratt. There is a critical need for foster options with more than 22 children needing care locally each year.
Jordan Hotaling, DCCCA training and licensing specialist, was a led speaker for a foster care Q & A session held last Monday in Pratt.

There are only two licensed foster care homes in Pratt right now and one additional family is in training. Pratt County has, on average, 22 children who need care each year.

Those who attended a Q & A session about foster parenting, Monday, July 19 at The Front Porch in Pratt learned it would not take a lot more to improve the situation for local children.

Pratt's DCCCA and The Hope Center hosted the foster parenting last week in response to a critical need for such services. Though only a handful of people showed up, DCCCA  representative Jordan Hotaling, a training and licensing specialist, explained the licensing process and what someone might expect as a foster parent.

The process to become licensed can be as quick as six weeks, but individuals/families can take longer if they need to make some changes to their house, she said. Class sizes are small and work around any schedule. The topics covered include: expectations of the children, expectations of the foster home, needs of the children, behaviors of the children, requirements of the foster home, how the system works, paperwork, and other things.

Holting said the term ‘foster parent’ brings to mind a certain situation where a stranger takes in one or more children to live in their home because circumstances do not permit them to be at home for a period of time. Although that is accurate on one hand, it is not a complete picture. Most foster parents are full time, long term placements, but not all. Some foster parents choose to be short-term placements or emergency placements only. Others choose to provide respite for the full time foster parents. Respite care may mean only day time hours, or only night time hours, or possibly for a day or two or maybe a week. The ability for a full time foster parent to take a break allows them to travel for work or with their own family members. Respite care may allow a full time foster parent to recharge in order to continue keeping a child in their home without the need to send them along to someone else as a placement. Whether you can host a child full time or overnight or whatever that may look like, you would still need to become licensed to have your home considered safe and appropriate.

Family members can also be foster parents for relatives. It allows the family to stay in closer contact with the children and receive some help with the medical and other costs associated with taking in another child. The licensing process for a relative or a close friend can be much quicker, if it is deemed an appropriate placement for the children.The county attorney stated the need stems from family issues where a child may need to leave the home because of their own behaviors or of the parents behaviors. The eventual placement may be with a relative but sometimes they are not immediately available.

When placements in town or county are not available and a child has been removed from their home, the placing agency may not have a choice but to send them a distance away. This distance may interrupt the child’s schooling and certainly their ability to see their friends. It is considered best for the child to keep them in the same school or at least the same district if at all possible. The less disruption for the child the better. It is traumatic enough to live through a situation where the child has to be removed, but to send them where they are surrounded by strangers and a strange school only adds to that trauma. Sometimes, the children in Pratt have to go to Wichita or Andover.

It would be good if some people who have extra bedrooms would come forward to become licensed or at least to start the conversation to help local children.

For  more information about foster care, contact DCCCA: 1-877-306-6250 or fostercare@dccca.org or by going to their website www.DCCCA.org.