January 20, 2014 - News
There are few things sadder in society than children that are left without a family. While nothing can truly eradicate the fear and hurt these children are exposed to, Utah was lucky enough to have Governor Leavitt take the initiative to create Utah Foster Care, a system that places children in a stable home environment. “There are very few things that are more important than caring for a vulnerable child,” he said. “Having children well-cared for is paramount to a good state government.”
We recently had the opportunity to donate to Utah Foster Care and learn a little more about this organization and what they do. We'd like to share this information with our readers and encourage them to get involved however they can.
Utah Foster Care is an organization that finds and trains potential foster families to take in children who have been abused and/or neglected. The hope is for foster families to provide a stable home environment for these children, and then help reunite the children with their birth families who have overcome whatever challenge they faced and are once again able to care for the child. Utah Foster Care does a lot of community outreach to find families who want to welcome children in foster care into their homes. Deborah Lindner, UFC’s Media Relations Expert explains, “We have monthly events in cities and towns across the state, including Ask a Foster Parent Nights and Foster Care Forums that educate the public about foster care needs. We also look for businesses where we can hang posters or make presentations to employees about foster parenting.”
This community outreach is essential to Utah Foster Care because they have a limited amount of money to spend on marketing materials like radio ads and billboards. Once a potential family is found, there’s a lot more that goes into developing that family. Everyone in the house over 18 has to pass a security check, and then prospective parents have to undergo 32 hours of training. During this training they learn about child development, child welfare rules and regulations, and how to be best prepared to care for children who have been abused or neglected. “Many families tell us they wish they would have had these types of classes before they had their birth children!” says Lindner.
While they face funding challenges just like other non-profit organizations, Utah Foster Care has such a unique mission that they face a lot of unique challenges. Their biggest challenge is of course finding new foster parents, but they also struggle in retaining the experienced foster families already in Utah.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge is stated perfectly by a foster mother on UFC’s website, “There is no painless way to love a child with all your heart and then send them back out into an unknown scary world.”
If that seems too heartwrenching, there are other ways to get involved with Utah Foster Care. Lindner says they rely heavily on the community supporting these programs that can change children’s lives through donations or volunteering. “Give a child the chance to learn a new skill, join a sports team, or just feel good about who they are. Critical funds for these programs are provided by caring community supporters that make it possible to change lives one at a time.” If you’re interested in other ways to get involved, you could hold an informational meeting on becoming a foster parent with your staff, get you staff involved in one of their events like Chalk Art Festival, Giving Tree, or Annual Symposium, or just hear more about parenting resources and good parenting.
Lindner says one of the most important things she hopes people in the community realize is that you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect foster parent.
The mission and importance of Utah Foster Care is summed up perfectly by a foster mother on their website. She says, “I became a foster parent because I firmly believe we all have a responsibility, even obligation, to care for the most vulnerable in our society: children.” A different foster parent recently shared something her foster daughter said: “When I needed a safer mom, I’m glad you chose me.”