The word is out in Fulton and Itawamba County. Foster families are urgently needed. With over 3,500 children coming through the system statewide, the need for homes is great. The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) is offering training sessions in New Albany May 12, 14 and 15 for those interested in becoming licensed to be a foster care parent.
Foster care families are now referred to as resource families to reflect the varied level of care given to children who come into the system. Some children receive temporary respite care due to removal from their homes while other children need long-term, specialized or therapeutic placement. And some children will move from a temporary setting into permanent adoptive placement.
MDHS has made numerous improvements in the foster care program that directly impact the care that children receive in Mississippi. Under MDHS Executive Director Don Thompson, a new direction has been given to the foster care program with an emphasis on permanency placement rather than long-term foster care.
Resource families are matched with children according to age, gender, personality, medical needs and the interests and activities of the children and their families. Social workers work with the child, birth parents, resource families, teachers, relatives and others who are important in the life of the child to ensure that high quality, personalized care is given to each child within the system. A team approach is taken to provide for children in custody, giving all parties an opportunity to voice their concerns during the placement process.
Resource homes may consist of a single adult or married couple, with or without children of their own in the home. A resource parent must be at least 21 years of age, have no unrelated adults living in the home, must have enough income to support the existing family, and meet other requirements.
For resource families, MDHS provides
* Pre-service training of 15 hours;
* Honest assessment of worst-case scenario for prospective families;
* Dual Licensure for foster care or adoption; and
* Monthly payments to assist with care of child in custody along with Medicaid coverage for the health care of the child.
Resource families need to be flexible and exhibit a willingness to work with the agency and birth parents. A cooperative spirit and a loving home are some of the keys to making a difference in the life of a child.
For more information on becoming a resource family, contact Billy Williams, Itawamba County Resource Specialists, at 662-862-4851 or call 1-800-345-6347. Additional information can be found at the MDHS website at www.mdhs.state.ms.us.