Foster families needed, Colorado Kids Belong makes connections
Foster children in Berthoud need loving families to adopt them, and Colorado Kids Belong is an organization that seeks to achieve just that.
Colorado Kids Belong strives to gain awareness for children in foster care and attempts to recruit foster families and supporters in the wake of a foster care crisis – that is, foster children are having an increasingly difficult time finding homes.
Statistics from Colorado Kids Belong show that as of February, approximately 286 children are in foster care in Larimer County with an approximation of 84 foster homes available.
The Foster Friendly program – created by America’s Kids Belong – partners with local businesses and faith communities to show support for foster families. The Foster Friendly app is available for both Apple and Android that shows the names and locations of businesses that provide resources and discounts for those involved in foster care.
The organization also collaborates with local churches in the Foster Friendly program to provide childcare for foster parents called Parent Night Out. Children are given fun activities while their parents enjoy a night to themselves. Tracee Rudd, the state director of Colorado Kids Belong, has a goal to make Parent Night Out a monthly occurrence in local communities.
Any local business can apply at the Foster Friendly Business section of americaskidsbelong.org.
According to Rudd, trauma training is important for both Foster Friendly businesses and those looking to get involved in foster care. Many children in the foster system have endured some amount of trauma, so Rudd stresses the importance of this training.
“The fact that you need to be adopted is traumatic alone,” Rudd said.
Colorado Kids Belong also uses video shoots to get the faces of children in foster care out there. The children get an opportunity to tell the community about themselves, and these videos are then uploaded onto the Larimer County website.
With kids entering their school buildings in August, there will also be an influx of kids entering the foster care system according to Rudd.
“Usually when school starts, there’s kind of a flood of cases children coming into foster care because they’ve been unseen all summer,” Rudd said. “Often it’s teachers or school counselors that make bring things to the surface, so we are expecting to see an influx of kids coming into foster care this fall.”
Rudd said there has already been heightened numbers of children entering the foster care system in the month of July.
While Colorado Kids Belong tackles the issue of finding homes for children in foster care the Dream Makers Project addresses another issue. It is not uncommon for a child to go unadopted, and the Dream Makers Project assists those that age out of the system find success in adult life.
“We recognize that young adults in this situation, they’re much more likely to have a lot of mental health and trauma because they’ve been through so much,” Paula Hoogland, the former national director of America’s Kids Belong and the Dream Makers Project said. “Sometimes their housing is not stable and we’re trying to help with anything that would help remove a barrier or put another plank in the bridge that would help them cross over to success. So that was kind of the purpose of Dream Makers.”
Rudd’s message to those interested in adopting is “…dip your toes in, go to an orientation, go to a training, find somebody near you that’s fostering and just lean in and take them a coffee offer to support them in some way. At least start there.”
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