Foster Care Provides Safety Net for 10,000 Missouri Children Yearly
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month
We often hear the term “most vulnerable” children. Who could be more worthy of this designation than the children within the Foster Care System? Lutheran Family and Children’s Services (LFCS) reminds the community during May, which is National Foster Care Month, that there are more than 10,000 children currently living in temporary homes in Missouri.
Some children only require temporary stays – such as while a mother decides whether or not to make an adoption plan, or while their parent (s) or guardians are getting their lives in order before bringing the child back into the home. Through the Children’s Services Division, the average stay is about 700 days, and about 30 percent of these children are living with relatives. St. Louis has several agencies which accept children in crisis for a few days, but they often come to LFCS for the extension in temporary crisis care which is offered for up to 30 days. Other children enter the state system due to abuse and/or neglect. In these cases, the LFCS staff work with the parent(s) navigating through the crisis which brought them. These emergencies could be: finding shelter, help with financial assistance to pay utility bills, job search, or perhaps drug abuse or jail sentencing. LFCS staff are also working with the child and foster parents. Either way, foster parenting can have enormous impact for the emotional, social, educational and moral well-being of a child who has no other adult safety nets.
Becoming a foster care provider is a big step and the process can take several months to a year before officially becoming licensed. But it is very rewarding for those that become providers. There are other ways to help a foster child. For example, according to the Casey organization, a person can work with a foster care program to contribute to the child’s academic opportunities. Individuals can even spend time tutoring, mentoring, or being a respite care provider. When a mom or dad is going through a stressful time, temporary respite may be the answer. To qualify as a foster parent one must be 21 years or older; (may) be married, single or divorced; reflect good moral character; verify financial stability; free of child abuse or criminal history; be of good mental and physical heath; (may) be with or without biological children; have a safe house or apartment with adequate space and furniture; and willing and able to accommodate and care for additional children in the home. A permanent home for each child is the goal. If a child cannot be reunited with a parent, is not adopted, or does not have a legal guardian other than the state Children’s Division, the child may ‘age out’ of the system. LFCS, with other social services, tries to prepare the child with proper guidance and tools to move forward without court supervision.
For information about becoming a foster parent, for referring a child for foster care, or seeking temporary assistance contact Jean Mockobey at Lutheran Family and Children’s Services at 314-754-2736.
LFCS serves Missouri families, children and individuals from all walks of life in their greatest times of need. Services are open to anyone regardless of race, faith, national origin, gender, or age. As a nonprofit social services organization, its goal is to open doors for people who are challenged by poverty, unexpected pregnancy, violence, divorce, unemployment, illness, homelessness, loneliness and more. LFCS provides four key areas of support to tackle these challenges—Child Welfare, Mental Health Services, Child and Teen Development, and Disaster Services. The programs offered through each of these areas empower individuals and families and seek to develop healthy, supportive foundations for a lifetime. The staff delivers professionalism and personal care in equal measure to every situation and each client who visits one of the five offices around the state of Missouri. Everything that LFCS does integrates with the community to enrich and heal the lives of people with the expectation that troubled individuals find hope and realize that tomorrow can be different than today. For more information agency call 314-754-2784, email GinaH@lfcs.org or visit lfcsmo.org