from staff reports
---- — The Howard County office of the Indiana Department of Child Services is seeking adults with a desire to serve as foster parents. Since April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, three informational meetings for prospective foster parents have been scheduled April 12 in Kokomo. The 30-minute meetings will begin at 10 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the Howard County DCS office, 217 E. Southway Blvd. on the second floor.
In addition, the Howard County DCS office is coordinating a special Pinwheels for Prevention event at 7:30 p.m. April 8 at the Family Service Association, 618 S. Main St. Numerous pinwheels will be “planted” to symbolize the children in the county receiving services from DCS and other local providers. Besides local DCS officials, Emma Welker, chairwoman of Howard County Prevent Child Abuse Council, and Penny Irwin, representing the Howard County Court-Appointed Special Advocate program, will offer short remarks.
“When innocent children are abused or neglected and it’s not safe to allow the children to stay in their own home, our first choice is to place them with fit and willing relatives,” said Marilyn Robinson, director of the Howard County DCS office. “If relatives are not available, we need to have good foster parents available to provide temporary care for our children in need.”
Foster parents can be stay-at-home parents or they can work outside the home. They may rent or own their own house, apartment or condominium, as long as it meets safety standards. Besides providing food and shelter, they assist with practical needs like helping with visits with the child’s family, taking them to any needed therapy sessions, medical and other appointments and ensuring there are extracurricular activities.
Local foster parents are especially needed so that school-age children removed from their homes can continue to attend their own school and maintain contact with their friends. Those willing to foster teenagers or sibling groups are particularly desired.
Each informational meeting will be led by foster care specialists from the Howard County DCS office. Foster parent responsibilities will be discussed as well as the licensing process, including the home study. In addition, a former foster parent will be on hand to answer questions. A willingness to step up and help a child in need is the most important prerequisite for becoming a foster parent.
There are more than 4,700 abused or neglected Hoosier children currently living in non-relative foster homes because it is unsafe for them to live in their own homes. In Howard County, 60 abused or neglected children live in foster homes.