Sometimes life is hard.
Sometimes you just need a little help in this world. A little helping hand to lift you back up....
Many of you know that I am working on becoming certified to be a respite (weekend only) therapeutic foster care parent.
Therapeutic indicates that the children I will be "helping" will have some kind of disability - like ADD, bipolarity, schizophrenia, SOMETHING. All of the kids in therapeutic foster care are diagnosed with something, and that takes them from the "normal" foster care into therapeutic foster care.
The program I am working for is a private non-profit. They contract with government agencies to help kids who come into the foster care system through the state means (aka DHS), but they are not governed by the state. They actually follow stricter guidelines than state foster care, and they provide more-for the families and the children. The ultimate goal is to reunite the family and help create healthy families that will thrive on their own in the future. This takes a LOT of work and involves a case worker, the parents, a therapist, sometimes a legal guardian, a court advocate and a foster parent all working together on a treatment plan -both for the child and for the family as a unit. Therapeutic foster care parents have 24/7 support if needed, and a therapist can be at my doorstep within 20 minutes of me calling for help. It's a world I didn't even really know existed.
And I'm so proud to be working on becoming a part of it. It's overwhelming to hear the stories of the children in foster care - how can you not want to help if you're able??
As a respite worker, I will most likely not be helping kids who have been taken from their families due to poor parenting. The program I'm going to be a part of will have me providing respite care for families who are intact but are on the verge of splitting - dealing with a lot of issues that stem from the child having some kind of mental disorder they are working through. 99% of the kids that come through this section are on medication of some sort. And almost all of the kids don't want to act out - they just don't know how not to. And it will be my role (along with the therapist) to help them learn good behaviors. No problem, right?
The families these kids come from are just like you and me...but need a little helping hand. The state will pay for a respite worker to take the child for a weekend to give the family a much-needed break so that they can avoid long-term foster care. It's been a proven success (in our community anyway) and the funding for this has quadrupled! Respite workers do get paid, as do all foster care parents, but nobody gets rich by doing foster care. And nobody does therapeutic foster care for the money alone-it's just not easy money. There's a LOT of paperwork involved, home visits (three before certification, four a year after that), an incredible amount of training, and paperwork-did I mention that? There's a LOT. But every bit I do, will potentially help a family in crisis get back on the path to success.
It's not going to be easy, but it IS a way to make a big, impactful change.