SENECA FALLS — Families are in the spotlight this weekend as the nation celebrates Mother’s Day.
With that in mind, there is a significant gap between the number of children in the four-county area of Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates needing foster placement and the number of foster care families willing to take those children in on a short- or long-term basis.
Glove House, an organization based in the former BonaDent Dental Lab building, contracts with Seneca and other counties to identify, train and arrange for foster home care for children who can’t live with their biological family for a variety of reasons.
“We have a continual need for foster care homes. The circumstances children find themselves in is often fluid and we need to be able to provide these children with safe homes each night,” said Elizabeth Reed, confidential recruiter for Glove House.
”We need families willing to be trained for foster care and willing to then accept one or more children for varying lengths of time. We want to keep siblings together as much as possible,” she said.
May is National Foster Care Month. Glove House and the county social service departments they work with use the month to express appreciation for their current foster and adoptive parents and to issue a plea for new ones to step forward.
Glove House needs foster parents who are willing to take in children from infant to 21, “either on a long-term basis or even part-time to give birth parents a respite time,” said Chris Jones, program manager.
”We want them to consider something that is not outside their comfort zone or that of the child or children,” Jones said, adding, “We know this can be intimidating.”
”We are continuously recruiting foster and adoptive parents due to a never-ending revolving door caused by families adopting or changes in the family dynamics. We need a large, diverse pool of foster parents to serve the many diverse needs of the youth and families we work with,” he said.
Glove House certifies single parents, same-sex couples, families with no children, families with several children, grandparents, families and friends and people from various economic backgrounds and other situations.
”The myth of needing to be a traditional family is non-existent in our world,” added Brianna Thibault, foster care service home finder for Glove House.
Mandatory classes for families interested in being a foster care provider will begin June 4. It is a chance to get information, ask questions and get a sense of whether fostering is right for them. Glove House then does an assessment of the families and the homes that want to provide foster care to determine suitability for certification.
Children are removed from their homes by social service caseworkers for a variety of reasons, including physical abuse, emotional or educational neglect, sexual abuse, and mental health issues. Every effort is made to provide services to keep the family intact, but often that is not in the best interest of the children and foster care placement is the best option.
Caseworkers look first at other family members for placement. Foster care is a final option.
”We have 36 foster care homes across the Finger Lakes. We could use 36 more. Our goal is to keep the children as close to their home communities and schools as possible,” Reed said.
Foster families are paid by the state, plus additional money is provided for typical child activities and expenses.
The families that become certified are able to choose what child or children who match their family dynamic best, such as age, sex, ethnicity, behaviors and traumatic experiences. Glove House says their greatest need is for foster families for teens and sibling groups.
The goal is always to reunite the children to their biological family. Sometimes, when this isn’t possible, foster parents build a strong enough relationship with their foster children that they end up adopting them.
On May 18, Glove House will host an appreciation event for certified foster parents.