Moffat County sees continued shortage of foster parents | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County sees continued shortage of foster parents

Moffat County Department of Social Services is holding an open house on Monday designed for prospective foster parents

Michael Neary

Lauren Rising, foster care coordinator for the Moffat County Department of Social Services, described an acute need for foster parents in the county. The department will hold an open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday at 595 Breeze St. to provide information about becoming a foster parent.

— If a child from Moffat County suddenly needs a foster home in Moffat County, the prospects of sticking close to familiar territory are not strong.

"Right now, we only have four certified homes in Moffat County," said Lauren Rising, foster care coordinator for the Moffat County Department of Social Services.

In an effort to find prospective foster homes, the department is holding an open house at its offices from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday at 595 Breeze St.. The open house is slated to include information about becoming a foster parent, as well as accounts of children who are awaiting homes.

Rising said about six children from the county are currently in out-of-home placement in Denver or Grand Junction.

"When a child comes into care, a lot of times, it's very unexpected," she said. "It's an emergency placement. If that were to happen right now, I wouldn't have any foster homes to put them in here in the community. I'd be forced to look elsewhere."

Rising said that prospective foster parents undergo 47 hours of training to become certified. The first 12 hours focus on core training, and those hours must be completed before a child can be taken in. After that, 15 hours of specialized training are required in the first three months and another 20 hours within the first year.

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Rising said foster parents receive financial reimbursement.

"(The children’s) medical needs are covered, their mental health needs are covered, and foster parents receive a modest stipend to help cover the basic costs of caring for the child," she added.

The cost to the county can be several thousand dollars per month higher when a child is placed in a residential center out of the county, Rising said. She noted that finding foster homes outside of the county can be challenging, as well, and so children are often placed in residential centers.

"Across the state, not so many foster parents want to take teens," she said, pointing out a particular challenge in placing children.

People who haven't had children of their own are also welcome to become foster parents, Rising said.

"If we have someone who doesn't have any parenting experience, we might start them off slower, maybe with just one child who doesn't have challenging behaviors," she said. "Because we have such a good training program, there are resources that can help them with whatever questions or support they might need along the way."

In Colorado, people in a variety of situations can become foster parents, Rising said.

"You can be single, married, divorced, widowed, part of a same-sex (couple), in a domestic partnership," she said.

A person does need to be at least 21 years old and a U.S. citizen to be eligible.

Sometimes, the rewards of being a foster parent can be surprising. One Moffat County foster parent noted she was able to develop strong connections with some of the biological families of the children she cared for — something she wasn't expecting. And Rising noted that the most ordinary things can be fulfilling for the foster parents.

"The rewards are just the everyday moments they get with these kids," she said. "That's why they do it."

To RSVP or to learn more about Monday’s open house, people can call 970-824-8282 ext. 2047