May is Foster Care Month
Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 12, 2007
Special to The Journal
According to the dictionary, to “foster” means “to bring up; nurture, to promote the development or growth of; encourage.” All of those words sum up the critical needs of children in foster care; they are also a reminder of how vital foster parents are in helping the Department of Human Resources (DHR) protect children from abuse and neglect.
“The annual observance of Foster Care Month brings sharply into focus the critical needs of foster children and the importance of our foster parents who respond so faithfully and selflessly to the children's needs,” said state DHR Commissioner Dr. Page Walley. “With the help of our foster parents and other community partners, our county DHR staff work hard to prevent and remedy child abuse and neglect,” Commissioner Walley said. Gov. Bob Riley has proclaimed May as Foster Care Month in Alabama. Currently, there are more than 6,000 children in foster care in the state.
“We could not protect our hurting children without the community's help,” said Lesa Syler, director of the Crenshaw County Department of Human Resources. “Our foster parents, in particular, deserve special praise. Over and over again, they open their homes and hearts to these hurting children and love them unconditionally, even with the uncertainty about the length of the child's stay,” Syler said.
Some children are placed in foster care briefly while a family crisis is resolved. Others remain in care for longer periods of time, depending upon the circumstances that led to their removal from their family's home. Foster parent recruitment and the retention of the foster homes that are already approved remain high priorities.
“In addition to our foster parents, our other community partners are right there when we need them,” Syler said. “Various civic organizations, churches, and schools contribute financial resources, clothing and their time to assist foster children.” “Foster Care Month highlights this challenging work which we could not do without the community's support,” she added.