Foster parents sought

Moffat County Social Services say they could be short homes throughout the summer

The Moffat County Department of Social Services is seeking foster parents because of the loses of those who are leaving town and others who are expected to leave at the end of the summer.

The department would like to recruit about seven families to become foster parents, said Tom Dunlop, a social worker from the Moffat County Department of Social Services.

"Some families like long-term care and some like respite care, which is a few days at a time," Dunlop said.

The foster care family system works better with a larger pool of foster parents, especially in the summer when families are taking vacations and attending other events, Dunlop said.

"What we like are people who have the ability to be nurturing, that have the ability to provide a safe atmosphere and be able to be flexible with them," Dunlop said.

The Moffat County Department of Social Services currently has four children in their custody.

But they are short of foster families should the need arise for more children to be placed.

"Because it is summer, even though we have six or seven families it could be that just one or two are in town or available to take children on any given night," Dunlop said.

He explained that sometimes there is more than one child that needs to be placed with a family.

If the police have to take a child into protective custody then the child is usually placed with social services. Then if social services determines that the child cannot be returned to his or her parents within three days there is a shelter hearing that takes place with the parents, the police, social services department and a judge to determine where the child will be housed.

"The first step is to search for a relative," Dunlop said.

Interested foster parents must undergo 12 hours of initial training. Then within the next six months the parent or parents must go through an additional 20 hours and every year after foster parents must undergo 20 more hours.

Families receive stipends for taking care of foster children. The stipend "really varies," Dunlop said. It depends on the age of the child and how involved the foster parent has to be in the child's life.

"This is not the kind of thing people get into for financial reasons," Dunlop said.

For parents who are interested in becoming foster parents there are support services available.

The county social services department has foster parent meetings and they have a specialist come so parents can ask questions about behavioral issues children might be exhibiting. They also can ask questions about how to deal with different behaviors.

"We encourage foster families to network with each other and there is always a case worker available (to families) 24 hours a day," said Dunlop.

Sandra Loya and her husband became involved in foster parenting about three years ago.

"That was before we had our restaurant," Loya said, who is a co-owner of Casa Loya in Craig, "My niece told me I would love it, we love kids."

The Loyas have taken care of six children and estimate that it is usually for around six months.

For Theresa Moyer there is not a typical amount of time that is spent taking care of foster children.

"We have had everything from an overnight to a year and a half."

Both foster parents agree that it can be hard to let the children go. It depends on what the situation is that they are going back to and how the kids have bonded to their foster parents, according to Moyer.

"It gets pretty intense sometimes," Loya said, specifically referring to the time when they were taking care of three children at once, including a three-year-old.

But Moyer and Loya agree that helping the children and their families is the reason that future foster parents should get involved.

"It is rewarding to be the person who can help out a family unit," Moyer said.

"A lot of kids are abused and abandoned. They need to be loved," Loya said.

Singles are also welcomed to apply and applicants must be "financially responsible."

"We are looking for people that have no preconceived notions about what kinds of kids get placed in foster care."

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