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Foster parents needed

10-week training class begins on Sundays in January

The Covington County Department of Human Resources is looking for caring adults willing to open their homes and their hearts to foster children.

“We have around 30 licensed homes, and average around 60 children in foster care,” Natalie Pinson, Resource and Adult Service Supervisor, said. “So the need is there because we have even more at risk families in which we consider children to be at risk for coming into foster care.”

With that in mind, Pinson is opening the new year with a 10-week class for potential foster parents. The classes will be offered on Sunday afternoons, beginning Jan. 6, 2019.

“We had such a good response with Sundays the last time we did the class, we thought we would try again on a Sunday. It seems to fit people’s schedules.”

To become licensed, potential foster parents must complete a total of 30 hours of training – three hours per week for 10 weeks.

“During this time, we help everybody with the paperwork that has to be completed,” Pinson said.

While foster parents can express their preferences for the age and gender of children in their care, Pinson said what they come into classes saying generally is not what works out.

“They go into training thinking they know what foster parenting is, but it is totally different than the public perceives it,” she said. “Sometimes what they are willing to do changes in the course of the process.”

Pinson said she gets to know foster parents very well in the licensing process.

“By the end of it, I know what their strengths are to match the child with them,” she said.

There are many resources which support foster parents. For instance, DHR provides day care for children whose foster parents work fulltime.

“Most of our foster parents do work,” Pinson said. “We want our kids treated just like those parents would treat birth children. We really make a big effort in that regard. If one goes to grandmother’s house for childcare, we want the foster child to go, too.”

The county also has a foster parent support group, and a clothes and supply closet where foster parents can get things that children who come into their care need.

There also is a need for foster parents willing to provide respite care – keeping children for a weekend or other short period of time.

“It would be like going to a grandparent’s house,” Pinson said.

At present, DHR has licensed parents ranging in ages from their 20s to their 70s.

Pinson said there is a special need for parents willing to take large sibling groups.

“We also have a need for people like nurses or teachers to take medically fragile children,” she said. “We also have a need for people willing to provide care for teenagers.

The classes will be held from 1 until 4 on Sunday afternoons, Jan. 6 through March 10, at the DHR office in Andalusia.

For additional information, contact Pinson at  (334) 427-7933, or email her at Natalie.Pinson@dhr.alabama.gov.