May is National Foster Care Month
CONCORD, NH – This year, more than 1,000 children will enter the New Hampshire foster care system. Currently, only 600 homes are licensed to provide care. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), and the private, nonprofit, Child and Family Services of NH (CFS), now is the time for New Hampshire residents to consider opening their homes and hearts to fostering a child from their community.
Most children enter the foster care system when child protective services determine that their homes are not safe. Sometimes it’s a case of abuse or neglect, and other times, it’s the death of a parent, or a child’s delinquency. The children range from birth to age 18, with the higher percentage being under four or over 12. The length of stay in foster care is different for each child, but the goal is always to establish permanency; the agencies work to reunify the family where possible, or facilitate adoption.
“We have a critical shortage of licensed foster homes to accommodate the need,” says DCYF administrator, Eileen Mullen. “We need new families available in every area of the State because we want to allow children in care to continue in their own school setting, maintain their connections, and increase the ability for them to visit with their family.”
DCYF and CFS are working together to recruit foster homes in every corner of New Hampshire. To help people overcome any fears of what it takes to become a foster parent, DCYF and CFS, along with several other child placing agencies in the State, provide a clear roadmap of the process, along with training, resources and round-the-clock support for foster families.
“To be a foster parent, you don’t need to be wealthy, married or own a home,” says Michelle Galligan, CFS foster care recruiter/specialist. “You also don’t need to have experience raising children. You do need patience, a big heart, adequate finances and an adequate living space, as well as stability in your life and relationships. And, it helps to have a sense of humor.”
Across the nation, May is Foster Care Awareness and Appreciation Month.
“We are very grateful for the wonderful care foster parents provide to children in our State,” says Mullen. “They do very important work and we cannot thank them enough for the compassion, stability and loving environment they give to children whose lives have been disrupted. A foster parent can be a real life hero to a child in need.”
For further information on becoming a foster parent and to download official NH forms, visit the State of NH Department of Health and Human Services website, or call 603- 271-4711. Foster parenting classes will start this summer.
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