Saturday, March 15, 2008

Clermont County needs more foster parents

County in need for foster care homes, families
Coomer, Regan. Florence Community Press.

With about 350 children in foster care and 80 to 90 foster homes in Clermont County operating at any given time, the Department of Job & Family Services is forced to send half of these children out of the county to homes in networks that are owned by businesses that provide foster care services.

Going into foster care is traumatic for a child no matter what, said Tim McCartney, director of Job & Family Services, but add moving out of the county to that, removing the child from the extended family, schoolmates and friends, and the child undergoes even more strain.

"But, we have to do it to make sure children have a safe environment to be in," McCartney said.

Erica Boller, a foster care supervisor in Clermont County, said "50 percent of our children leave the county and that's awful. They have to totally leave what's familiar to them. Our children should be taken care of by our community."

McCartney agrees displaced children should stay in the county.

"We believe these are Clermont County's kids and we want to make sure our community is taking care of the kids," he said.

One Clermont County woman who cares for foster children is Denise Strimple of Tate Township. Strimple and her husband have been foster parents since 1988.

"It's worth the risk," Strimple said. "The thing that most people say, 'I don't know if I can give them back,' It really is worth the risk to ourselves to know you're making life better for a child who doesn't have a choice or voice most of the time."

The Strimples have opened their home primarily to children with disabilities or medical issues.

"We spend most of our time with these children helping them overcome that and doing different therapies and appointments at Children's and things to help maximize their potential while they're with us," she said. "It's very rewarding to see them not being able to do things they should be doing at what age level they are to coming back to a typical area of where they belong."

Strimple said she and her husband generally care for one child at a time over a six-month period to give the child the advantage of their sole attention and care.

"It's always a heartbreak to say goodbye," Strimple said, "but it's certainly worth the investment."

Besides the negative effects of removing the children from everything they know, sending children out of the county also makes it harder for families to reunite after the parents have resolved the issues that caused the county to remove the kids, McCartney said.

"It's more difficult to reunify because of the distance. It's also frankly just more costly. We incur travel expenses for our staff, and networks, they're businesses, so it costs us more to pay a network to provide care for a child than it does for Clermont County foster parents," McCartney said.

Though there is a need for more foster homes in general, Boller said, "Our real need is for families that can take care of older children, school-age children and sibling groups."

Some county families are reluctant to provide care to older children because they either may be hoping to adopt, in which case the family would prefer an infant, or because they're not certain of what types of concerns or behaviors those children may bring into the home, Boller said.

However, the county provides mentors and training for families who open their homes to older children, Boller said.

"They report to us they feel the rewards tenfold from those children."

Boller said she'd like to see an additional 60 homes open up in Clermont County; if there were that many, children wouldn't have to be sent out of the county.

"We're really looking for people to help give a child a brighter tomorrow and please look into your hearts and give us a call. We are here and we want them to be there for our children," she said.

McCartney agreed that the county needs people who will provide good homes for displaced children.

"Simple fact of the matter is, in a growing count like us, we have 350 kids in care, five years ago we had a little less than two hundred, the number of kids that we have to care for has grown as the county has grown."

If you're interested in becoming a foster parent, call 732-STOP (7173) or visit The county also is holding open houses in coming months at local libraries to provide information to people wanting to become foster parents. The next open house is at 7 p.m. March 20 at the Union Township Branch Library.


Blogger Marsha said...

Here in clermont county , they do not even remove a 6 year old child, from her home, where she reported that daddy was putting his fingers in her pee hold. The 6 year old was ask, if daddy did that with daddy only a few feet away from her. Of course she said he wasn't ( fear ) Then he was left with her as the care giver and the case was closed investigator looked like she was 18 years old and needed help herself.

12:14 PM  

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