Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Alternate Reality

Since the local paper did not have time/space to run my column this week I've decided that I own it again-- so here it is. It should run in the print edition next week.

Foster care need is great in Danvers
By Laura Hinds
Carla King of Danvers has worked as a foster care recruiter for many years. She has worked countless hours to find good foster homes for hundreds of children. On her own time, she finds way to raise funds to help these families give more to the children, including events where foster families can get together for a day of fun. I recently was in touch with her about the need for foster homes in Danvers. Carla sent me the following information, and I do feel it is important to get it in the public eye so that perhaps more families who are able to provide a stable home environment might consider becoming a foster family. I was really surprised and shocked that there are only two families in Danvers providing foster care on a steady basis. Danvers is very much a family oriented town. People have the resources here, but perhaps have never considered the idea of giving back by helping children in need.
From Carla King:
"We need more homes in Danvers and every town. Today, out of the Salem office there are 385 children in care. We have only 40 foster homes. Many children are in programs (which take care of more children at once), so they are not over crowded in the 40 homes. There are days when we don't have a place to put a 3-year-old girl or a 6-year-old boy. There have even been times when we had trouble placing a newborn. Then there are adolescents. They have a bad rap and are hard to place, while many of these teens thrive in a nurturing foster home and just want a safe place to stay so they can finish school.
“The Garvin family of North Street has provided a foster home for about a year. This is one of only two foster homes in Danvers, and the other has had only one placement, which resulted in adoption and, therefore, that family has not taken any more placements. We have some family members providing foster care in Danvers, but the Garvin family is the only Danvers family currently providing ongoing foster care.”
King provided some facts:
You don't have to own your own home to be a foster parent.
You have to have an income, but there is no minimal income so long as you can provide for a child in foster care.
You can be single, any age (over 18) and any nationality.
We welcome same sex couples.
There is a daily stipend for foster children.
To become a foster parent, one needs to first call Carla King in the Salem office, 978-825-3862. After an application and a home visit, the family can attend the training. There is no cost for the training. Once training is completed, references are done as well as a home study (which is an assessment of the people in the home) and, if approved, the home is given a license.
“There is a great deal of support from the Salem office, from get-togethers to meet other foster families, to support groups,” said King. “A social worker is assigned to each family to provide one-on-one support. There is a 24-hour hotline for foster parents as well as for the department.”
Please take the time, take stock of your situation and think about it. You, too, could help children and give them a chance at a better life in our lovely town of Danvers. Thank you,” said King.
Now, on to another subject, aquatic therapy, a topic I first wrote about in my Feb. 14 column. For the sake of clarification and to educate people that there are actually other facilities around, you can find aquatic therapy in Salem at the YMCA and there is a facility in Ipswich called Aquatic Therapy of New England. Check with your physician and insurance company for referrals. The main difference is that these pools are kept at a much cooler temperature, up to 10 degrees cooler, as I understand it. Speaking for myself and for some friends with whom I was in aquatic therapy, the heat makes all the difference. It is up to the individual: what works for some may not work for others.
Laura Hinds lives with her husband, Michael, on Burly Street.

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