Eagle County in need of foster families

Alex Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – The county department of Health & Human Services has put the call out for new foster families to join the ranks of those already assisting children in need.Last year, 13 local children were placed in foster homes, with an average stay of five months. While those numbers are small compared to some areas, each placement was a critical event in the lives of the children and families affected, said Eagle County Family Services Manager Marian McDonough.”There’s always a great need to find families who are willing to take kids,” McDonough said. “A lot of times these are families who want to give back to their community, or they’ve known friends or other family members who’ve been in foster care.”McDonough said the commitment varies, with placements coming sporadically.”There can be a great need, and then there might be nothing for eight or 10 months,” she said. Health & Human Services will work with foster families to match them with age-appropriate children. For example, McDonough said, if a family has its own school-age children, an infant may not be the best match.”We work with families and look at their needs so we can be respectful of their wishes,” she said.Carol Proffitt, a Gypsum-area resident who was a foster parent for 13 years, said the experience is rewarding and challenging.”You have to treat that child like it’s yours but always remember that it’s not,” Proffitt said. “You have to really care about the kid and how they’re doing emotionally, physically and in school. It can be very rewarding to watch them blossom, to see their faces when they get that first good grade on their report card.”The challenge, Proffitt said, comes from trying to determine what it is each individual child needs. A lot of times, it’s simply attention.”Most of them are pretty good kids,” she said. “They just haven’t had a lot of attention from their biological parents. They might test you, but once they see you care about them, that makes all the difference.”Currently, the county is looking for 10 new foster families to meet needs. Families who qualify will complete a home study and foster family preparation program, which culminates in a certification to provide care. When children are placed with the family, the family receives compensation for room and board, as well as for medical care, clothing and other expenses. It should not be considered another source of income, McDonough said.”It’s not something you do for money,” she said. “People who do it really care about kids and want to provide a safe place for children until they can return home.”Children in need of foster care represent a variety of social problems, McDonough said. The need can come about because of physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence situations or even economic hardships where putting the kids in a foster home allows the parents to stabilize their situation.==========================================To Learn MoreThose interested in becoming a foster parent should contact Kathy Reed at 748-2005.==========================================Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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