As of last fall, there were over 7,000 children in the foster care system in Kansas. Maybe this number shocks you, or maybe you’ve heard and read about the growing number of kids who need a safe place to live and have now decided you want to do something about it. It can be overwhelming to think about where to start, so here are some first steps and a variety of options for foster care in Wichita.
First, there are multiple agencies in town who you can choose to be licensed through – St. Francis Community Services, DCCCA, Youthville, The Salvation Army, and the Wichita Children’s Home are all great options. You can start by looking through the information on each of their websites (or chatting with anyone you know involved in foster care to get their feedback!) to see if one is a better fit for you and your family. Each of them will require you to fill out an application, go through a background check, and get started on your Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP) classes. After your classes are completed, you’ll go through a home study and can submit all of the necessary paperwork for your license. You will need your license before a child can be placed in your care.
When you have your license, you have different options for the type of care you’re able to provide. There is emergency (short term) care while agencies try to find a long term foster home, long term placements, and respite care where you provide a break for foster parents with long term placements. You’re able to specify specific age ranges you’re comfortable with, what type of placements, how many children (and you must be licensed/have the appropriate space determined through the home study for that number of children,) and whether you’re willing to foster children with special needs or particularly difficult – or sometimes dangerous – behaviors. You’re able to change this information with your worker assigned to you through your agency at any time, and you are always able to say, “no” when a call comes in if you’re unable to take that particular child.
If you have your license, but aren’t able to take any placements currently, there are still ways you can help. You can do occasional respite for anyone you know with foster placements that may need a date night, a last minute trip out of state, or just time to devote to and focus on their biological children. You could help with babysitting for MAPP class meetings or any classes offered to fulfill foster families’ hours needed to maintain their license. You’re also able to help with transportation of foster children, which could be a lifesaver for a foster mom who’s needing to be several places at once.
While you’re waiting on your license (or if getting license isn’t an option for you right now) there are always opportunities to serve foster families. Grabbing essentials from the grocery store while you’re there and dropping them off at someone’s house after they’ve gotten a new placement, helping cook dinner – one night a month even – for the kids who are having to stay at the office because they haven’t been placed in a foster home yet, or prepping freezer meals for a foster family are great places to start! You could also help watch a foster family’s biological children while they’re at appointments, support them at court dates, help plan adoption parties, or assist in gathering all of the necessary (correctly sized) items when a family receives a placement. Foster families, especially after taking on a new placement and going through the adjustment period, can always use help with lawn care, laundry, or house cleaning! The options are endless, and the support means so much to families who are in the trenches of foster care.
Don’t let the process overwhelm you – If you’ve decided to pursue foster care, know that you are needed and that there are several support groups, churches, and organizations in town who will walk with you if you reach out! It seems daunting, but the classes and licensing process can take months, so you have time to prepare… and you’ll be forever impacting the future of a child, which is well worth the effort!
For more resources on Kansas kids in foster care, check out these WMB articles:
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