County wants more foster homes
Post Independent Staff
It’s traumatic enough for an adolescent or teen to be placed in a foster home, but even more so when that new home is as far away as Colorado Springs, Delta or Montrose.
“There’s a whole different level of comfort if they can stay in their own community,” said Steve Aurand, the new foster care program supervisor for the Garfield County Department of Social Services.
To keep those kids in their own, familiar environments, the agency hopes to triple its number of licensed foster homes this year.
“We have six licensed foster homes now,” Aurand said. “Our goal is to have 12 to 18 homes by the end of 2003.”
Aurand grew up in Glenwood Springs, and has firsthand experience as a foster parent. Several years ago, Social Services placed a 12-year-old boy with Aurand for what everyone thought would be a two- or three-week period. The boy ended up staying 10 years, and today the young man is on his own.
“It was very rewarding,” Aurand said. “He’s in his early 20s, and is doing very well. Keeping him in the New Castle area with his friends and school was very important.”
Garfield County Social Services director Lynn Renick said the foster home program is open to a wide range of adults who want to be foster parents. “There are young people, singles, retirees … A wide variety of homes can become certified,” Renick said.
Aurand said the foster home certification process can take approximately four months. The state of Colorado pays an average of $500 a month per child for foster care.
A training session for foster parents will be held in Glenwood Springs in February, but other sessions are held around the state throughout the year. Foster parents must know First Aid and CPR and pass a background check, Aurand said.
There are several categories of foster homes. Some foster parents want to adopt their foster children. Some homes, called “shelter care,” are for short-term stays. Other stays can go on for years. Renick said the primary goal in most cases is for the child to be reunited with their parents “in a minimum amount of time.”
Children, adolescents and teens are placed in foster homes for a variety of reasons, including abuse, neglect or for safety reasons. Renick said Social Services first tries to place foster children with relatives, then turn to foster homes as a second option.
For 2002, approximately 80 children, adolescents and teens were under the care of Garfield County Social Services. Of that total, 30 were placed in out-of-county therapeutic homes, 40 were placed with relatives or in other care facilities, and nine were placed in foster homes.
Foster parents can have children of their own, and can specify the ages of children they are interested in having placed in their homes. A maximum of three children can be placed in each foster home.
“We’ll work with people,” Renick said.
Aurand, 37, has worked with children and teens on several levels. He spent 12 years with Garfield Youth Services and YouthZone before joining Garfield County Social Services a year ago.
When Aurand was named foster home supervisor four months ago, he was surprised at the number of adolescents and teens from local communities who were being placed in other counties. “There were no homes for adolescents and teens” in Garfield County, Aurand said.
For more information on becoming a foster parent, call Garfield County Foster Home coordinator Wendy Christie at 945-9191, ext. 3050.
Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534
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