For Every Child a Home
Utah Foster Care (UFC) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to training, licensing and supporting foster families. They serve around 1300 foster/adoptive families and 2700 children at any given time, and have been operating for fifteen years. UFC is dedicated to making sure that every child has a safe home. Utah Foster Care works tirelessly to ensure that families and children in foster care are taken care of, whether they are adopted or reunited with their biological parents.
UFC provides an invaluable service, but there is always a need for more support from the community. Ben Ashcroft, Regional Area Representative for the Southwest Region, discussed ways to become involved. Foster families are always needed, but there are other ways to help. One way to help is by donating to the Wishing Well Funds, which are “funds that are used directly for children in foster care to help provide for extra things that there might not be resources to pay for.” Community members can also donate to the Washington County Children’s Justice Center, a center for children who have experienced abuse.
There is a volunteer program called Peer Parenting, where volunteers teach basic parenting skills to birth parents so that a child can return to their family, the main goal of foster care. Events and businesses that sponsor UFC, as well as Wishing Well Funds, are very important to the non-profit organization. “If they are in the community, they can help out with donations or spreading the word and coming and supporting our events, these are very simple ways [to get involved],” says Ashcroft.
A common misconception about becoming a foster parent is that it is a daunting task. People are concerned that they don’t have the time and money, or are afraid of the emotional commitment that it requires. Luke and his wife Misty have been foster parents for over nine years. They hope to dispel a lot of the myths surrounding foster care, and help people focus on the fact that there is a need for foster parents in the area. Luke says, “There are a lot of families in our situation who would be great at it, but they think there is some sort of stigma attached to it, and that’s just not the case. These are just children who are no different from their own, who have just been dealt different cards.” They encourage people to become informed by going to the classes that Utah Foster Care offers and by going to the discussion panels, which host foster parents, adopted children, and representatives of the foster program in Utah.
Becoming a foster family does require work, but it is a very flexible and understanding program. Families can become licensed and then decide what will work best for them when it comes to helping children. Utah Foster Care and the Division of Child and Family Services are very willing to work with foster parents to decide how many children they can house, what age range, and even make sure children are placed in homes that maintain their race and culture. The highest need is for parents who can take sibling groups and who can take care of children over the age of eight. If you are interested in becoming a foster family, or want to learn more about how to get involved, you can go to www.utahfostercare.org. After all, 604 children were adopted from foster care in Utah last year alone! “I think every foster parent loves it when they are able to adopt their placement,” says Mindy. “The first placement they told me was going to last two weeks,” “—and that was nine years ago,” interjects Luke, laughing.