Guiding Forces

MAY IS National Foster Care Month. It is a fitting tribute to a special fraternity of individuals.

Ohio is a state well grounded in foster care, with 12,741 children in foster care and 9,752 licensed foster parents. With that being the case, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is joining Gov. John R. Kasich in recognizing Ohio’s foster parents and kinship caregivers for their kindness and generosity in caring for children whose parents cannot.

We join Gov. Kasich and the ODJFS in commending foster parents for their selfless and passionate commitment to their clients.

ODJFS is in line for kudos for its attempts to improve the state’s foster care system for older children and teens. ODJFS has embarked on two partnerships, one with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the other with with Big Brother Big Sisters.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption bids to place adoption recruiters trained in the “Wendy’s Wonderful Kids” model in counties around the state. Research indicates children served with this method are up to three times more likely to be adopted. The recruiters are focusing solely on finding adoptive homes for older children who have been in foster care for more than two years.

The ODJFS is ponying up with Big Brothers to launch a program called “Connecting the Dots from Foster Care to Employment and Independent Living” in eight pilot counties. For younger teenagers in foster care, Connecting the Dots offers mentoring, educational supports and work readiness training, so that if they turn 18 before finding permanent homes, they will be better prepared for life on their own.

For older teenagers and young adults, it will offer improved independent living and employment services so that they will have more support, more guidance, more connections and more knowledge as they transition to work, vocational training or college, and independent living.

The continued sharpening of the foster care system’s effectiveness is a prudent move. So, those two initiatives being scripted by the ODJFS should prove beneficial to the foster care system.

Foster parents are entrusted with providing security and stability to children in need of both. It is no easy task. They leave a positive imprint on an impressionable group of individuals, life altering in some instances.

“Foster parents make an extraordinary contribution to the children in their care, to their communities and to the state as a whole,” said ODJFS Director Michael Colbert.

We agree.