Saturday, October 8, 2016

Become a Foster Parent and Give Hope to a Special Child

“Foster Care”?  What is Foster Care?  “Become a Foster Parent” What the heck is that?

 How would I even start thinking about that?A strange kid in my home…. Could I do that? What does that mean? Where do they come from? What is wrong with them? Where are their parents? 

These are all things that came into my head as I learned about Foster Care and the whole process. I researched and researched, and I kept finding all of these perfectly worded articles and websites with smiling children and rainbow backgrounds.

 I didn’t actually LEARN about Foster Care until I started working in the field. I am Shawna Lowe, Therapist at Alabama Mentor. I will try my best to answer some of the most frequent questions we get asked from prospective Foster Parents. We currently have a GREAT NEED for Foster Parents in North Alabama.

 First, let me tell you about my company…

    Founded in 2006, Alabama MENTOR is a leading home and community-based services provider. We specialize in providing Therapeutic Foster Care for youth of all ages with emotional, behavioral and other complex challenges as well as their families. Through a range of personalized supports, we empower the individuals and families we serve to lead healthy, stable lives in the communities they call home.

So, Alabama Mentor is a company contracted by Alabama DHR (Department of Human Resources) that manages “Therapeutic Foster Care”.

 What is “Therapeutic Foster Care” you ask?
It is when a child is taken away from their biological family, who has a mental health diagnosis and needs a place to live. Alabama does not have “orphanages” anymore, that is outdated. Now we have loving homes that take care of children and give them the most “normal” life possible.

 What are the requirements?
• 40 hours of training
• Financial stability
• Character references
• 25 years old (minimum)
• Reliable transportation
• Spare bedroom
 • No criminal record
You don’t need to be a superhero—just a regular person who’s ready to bring someone into your home and help give them a better life by sharing yours. It doesn’t matter if you’re a retiree looking for a way to continue contributing to society, a stay-at-home mom looking to earn money at home, or a working family with children of your own. There’s no magic formula—you just have to be you.

Where do the children come from?
Youth may come from anywhere in the state of Alabama.

 How long do they stay? 
They may stay 3 months or 5 years. It is very difficult to tell how long a child will be in Foster Care.

Do I get paid?
As a Mentor, you’ll earn a reward that can’t be measured in dollars—and money to help pay for basic necessities.

Will I get help?
Our Therapeutic Foster Care program offers a range of comprehensive supports, including:
• Weekly individualized counseling from a Program Service Coordinator
• Therapy with the child, Mentor and members of the child’s family of origin, when appropriate
• Psychological evaluations and consultation
• Psychiatric and counseling services
• Medication management
• Advocacy and support for court and school systems
• 24-hour emergency on-call services
• Skill development and ongoing education opportunities for foster parents
• Case management and Individualized Service Plans (ISPs)
• Program oversight and continuous quality improvement

What will it look like?
The child will live in your home, as if they were one of your children. They will go to your local school and daycare after school if necessary. They will follow your family’s daily routine and lifestyle.

What if I have a family? 
Your entire family will have to be on board, including your spouse.

Do I have to live in Huntsville?
No! We have Foster Parents all over North Alabama. If you do not fall into the “Madison/Huntsville” Office, we can get you in contact with one of the many Alabama locations we have.

 Thank you so very much for your time and attention to this article. We are in GREAT NEED of Foster Parents at this time. If you are thinking about becoming a Foster Parent with Alabama Mentor, or have additional questions please contact 
Tiffani Smith @ 256.774.2934 

 -Shawna Lowe, MA  is a therapist with Alabama Mentor 

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