Learn About Opening Your Heart And Your Home To A Foster Child During National Foster Care Awareness Month

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

(Victor Valley) –  During the month of May organizations that help foster families work to spread awareness about the work that they do and the need for the community to get involved and help care for our most precious resource – our children.

The Greater Hope Foundation is a non-profit foster family agency in the High Desert that provides homes for children who have been taken away from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or other circumstances.

“I think a lot of times when people hear about foster care they don’t really know that its everywhere. It’s not just on TV, it’s not just in the movies or in big cities, it’s everywhere,” said Sheena Delgado, Director of Certification at Greater Hope Foundation. “So what we’re doing is going out into the community, going door to door and passing out brochures and flyers. In Barstow I’ve been canvassing small businesses as well as the grocery stores to let them know that we’re here and to bring awareness to the fact that there are foster children in need  in our community.”

“We’ve also been using social networking to put the word out. We’re doing this to let people know exactly what we do as an agency, and what they can do as a community to help.”

Delgado says there is a greater need because there are so many children coming in to care and not enough foster homes to take them in. She says one of the big problems that is causing difficulties for families is the downturn in the economy. “A lot of families struggle and they find it very hard to deal with the stresses that come with their own life. I see a lot of families going through that in their work life and their financial life, where they can’t provide for their children.”

“And there’s the other spectrum of families who go through hardship but they deal with it in the wrong way, they take it out on their children. We even get children that come from Ft. Irwin, children in military families. It’s the level of stress that military families go through. It’s hard.”

Delgado says that one of her goals is to recruit foster parents, to let people know how easy it is. To become a foster parent, first potential parents must attend orientation. Then there is paperwork to fill out, and a fingerprint screening to complete. Other requirements include: be 18 years of age or older, have a source of income, everyone in home that is over 18 must pass a background check, and there has to be an adequate amount of room the home.

“Once the paperwork is complete and potential parents pass the fingerprint and background check, I then go to their home for the home study,” said Delgado. “I evaluate the family and I learn about their psycho-social environment, what the dynamics of the family are. This way I know that when I place a child in their home that family is ready, willing, and able to care for that child.”

There are great benefits to being a foster parent. “The benefit of it is seeing a child grow; a child that has come in so hurt and so battered and bruised, mentally, emotionally and physically, seeing how much of an impact you make on that’s child life, I think that is the greatest benefit,” Delgado said.

The agency does provide reimbursements to foster parents that are caring for the children. The amount varies depending on the age of the child.

During this month, consider getting involved with the Greater Hope Foundation, or one of the other foster agencies in the High Desert. “Come in and see what we’re about,” said Delgado. “And if you don’t want to be a foster parent there are other ways you can help our agency and help support foster care and foster children. Of course we want you to be a foster parent, but if you feel like that’s something that your family is not ready to do, help spread awareness. Help educate your children, help your community.”

Find out more about the Greater Hope Foundation and how to become a foster parent on their website http://www.greaterhopefoundation.com/

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