Foster families focus of event
HURRICANE — A perfect opportunity for those considering becoming foster parents but unsure where and how to start the process was presented when the Mission West Virginia organization hosted a Fun in the Sun recruitment event Aug. 10 at the Hurricane City Park.
Representatives of several of the state’s foster and adoption agencies were eager to answer questions and current foster families ready to share their stories and offer advice. The event also hosted a school supply drive to help provide classroom essentials for the children in foster care, which is especially helpful to those who have relative children in their care.
This recruitment event was a part of Mission West Virginia’s FrameWorks initiative — one of the three programs run by the organization to help create stronger communities in the state. Its main effort is recruiting families to foster or adopt, helping them navigate through the certification process, and
providing support to kinship caregivers.
The number of children needing foster care grows exponentially each year due to the drug problem in the state. But the number of foster families available is dramatically lower and not nearly close to meeting the demand.
The need of foster parents is especially great for teenagers. Michael Jones, who was one of the guests at the event, is a single foster father who focuses on working with that specific age group. As a business education high school teacher in Cabell County, Jones works with teenagers on a daily basis and understands the kinds of challenges they face in life.
“These kids need a lot of guidance and structure,” he said.
Jones joined the fostering community six years ago. Eventually he founded a nonprofit organization called Foster Adventures (www.fosteradventure.org), which raises funds to allow aspiring teens in foster care fulfill their dreams according to their talent.
“There is a misconception that these kids are somehow bad,” said Jones, “but their needs are no different from any other teenagers.”
By giving them a stable environment to live and learn in, Jones hopes to “break the cycle” and “pull them away” from the negative influence. He fosters teenage boys and makes an emphasis on getting them into sports, which helps their emotional and physical health alike.
Another fact to consider is that colleges may provide free education for three years to teenagers who turned 18 and are in foster care at the moment of application.
A NECCO agency representative, Liz Watson, commented that “reunification is the ultimate goal. Although adoption happens a lot more, it is such a happy ending when a child returns to their family. And those families are incredibly grateful to foster parents.”
The other two community impact programs implemented by Mission West Virginia are THINK (Teaching Health Instead of Nagging Kids), which promotes teen pregnancy prevention through education, and E-Impact, which provides technology training to people across the state to help develop skills necessary to succeed in the modern economy.
To find out more about fostering and adoption, visit Mission West Virginia’s website at www.missionwv.org or call the office at 304-562-0723.