OHIO, USA — There is a need for foster families in northwest Ohio. Local organizations are getting the word out during National Foster Care Month in hopes of finding more homes to meet that need.
OhioGuidestone is one of those groups. It is a private, non-profit organization that helps to connect families to foster children and other services.
Allison McQueen is the regional coordinator and a foster caregiver herself. She said not enough people are signing up to care for foster children in general, but the need is greater in the older demographic.
McQueen said most families want to foster kids five years old or younger. However, OhioGuideStone said the greatest need is for children 10 years old and older.
In the last two months, she said only a handful of younger kids were brought into their care.
"Those kids are like medically fragile kids and have a lot of behaviors like multiple tantrums in a day, or (behaviors) like screaming and crying," McQueen said.
The organization goes through a county's children services agency to help connect caregivers and kids.
To foster through the organization, you have to be 21 years old, versus the state's age of 18. You will need to be able to prove that you can financially care for yourself and the child. Furthermore, you have to go through extensive training and home visits beforehand.
McQueen said that before fostering, a caregiver must be very mindful of the child's past and not just judge from their file. A caregiver should be open to adapting.
"Your home is going to be way different than where they came from," McQueen said. "And what works there is not going to work for you."
Those like Hannah Rose began their foster care journey in January with the help of the OhioGuidestone's Perrysburg office.
"This is my first time, so there are instances where I don't know. (Like) 'am I allowed to sign this paper?' or 'how do I handle this behavior?' and they've been extremely responsive," Rose said.
Rose is a single parent and said it's not always the easiest caring for her first foster child, but it's rewarding. She also said it's important not to judge a child by what you read about them on the paper. She said with proper education and preparation, anything is possible.
"You can get through those things and completely reshape that child into one that may have a better outcome in the end," Rose said.
McQueen said foster care is temporary and OhioGuidestone emphasizes reunification.
More information specifically on foster care through OhioGuidestone is available here.