Weld County Department of Human Services may not be the usual organization that we highlight on Get Involved. However, their need for people to volunteer is very great in one specific area: foster care.
At its most basic, foster care is when people care for a child that is not their own. But in practice, it’s much more than that. Not only does fostering provide a stable and safe home for children who are experiencing difficult circumstances, but it also helps them grow and learn.
“There is a definite need in Weld County for new foster families. We can’t keep up,” said WCDHS foster care supervisor Shannon Staires. “Right now we have about 100 kids in our 60 to 65 foster homes and they are all full.”
WCDHS offers two different types of care for children: foster care and kinship care. While fostering is a way for members of the community to step up and help children and families in need, kinship care is when the caretaker has had some connection to the child, such as a relative, family friend or a teacher or mentor. Kinship care helps children keep cultural ties and is another way to try and keep children in the communities they are attached to.
“Because our kids come from so many different backgrounds and have had so many different experiences, we have to have families that can meet them where they are,” said kinship supervisor Toi Edwards.
WCDHS recognizes that becoming a foster parent is no easy task. They offer parents 24/7 on-call staff support, networking and support groups, free training opportunities and more. With support from WCDHS, foster parents are empowered to provide the best they can for the children in their care. Edwards said one of the best things for the kids is diversity.
“The kids don’t want to see perfection. The kids can’t relate to perfection,” said foster parent Jeff Taylor. “The kids need to see ‘Oh! You struggle with that too.’”
For traditional fostering, caretakers must meet some basic requirements. They must be 21-years or older, a legal resident of the U.S., able to pass a background check and financially stable.
Beyond the basic requirements, Edwards said, anyone can be a foster parent. You can be single, married, gay, straight and anything in between. The thing that matters most is that you care about children and their families.
“The highlights is just seeing the kid smiling,” said foster parent Alex Silva. “It’s uplifting to see that they are being successful.”
To find out more information on becoming a foster parent click here.
Get Involved Colorado is a series that highlights nonprofit organizations across the state that are looking for volunteers. If you know of an organization that needs an extra set of hands and volunteers with passionate hearts, contact host/producer Karlie Huckels at email@example.com .