The importance of foster families

Supporting children in your community can make a difference to a family in need.

There are many different ways to become a parent, no matter how you enter into this role it is one of life’s biggest transitions. I am celebrating my eighteenth year of motherhood. My oldest child is not eighteen, however. We entered parenthood through the process of international adoption. There are many other non-traditional ways of becoming a parent besides adoption that is often heroic in nature.

There are families in every neighborhood that open their homes to children in crisis. Relative care is on the rise, and foster care families open their homes to children who have parents in crisis situations who could be struggling with a myriad of issues such as addiction. These families provide a safe home, food and support when support is often not wanted. The children are generally afraid and scared and do not trust others.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the children in foster care may be at greater risk for mental health problems, as most have experienced some form of abuse or neglect or suffer from being separated from their families. Foster care families are required to receive special training to help them understand separation, grieving and trauma.

The social workers who work with the foster families work within the Department of Health and Human Services under the Children's Protective Services (CPS) program. These workers are responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect. The Michigan Child Protection Law provides the framework for what CPS must do.

The need for more foster families is imperative due to a national shortage of foster care families. There is a local DHHS office in most every county throughout the state. Visit the MDHHS website to learn more about how to become a hero to some children in your community.

Michigan State University Extension offers many social-emotional health programs that can benefit all types of families such as Nurturing FamiliesRELAX: Alternatives to Anger and Stress Less with Mindfulness.

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