Garfield County recognizes families that help bring sunshine to others |

Garfield County recognizes families that help bring sunshine to others

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – There are few foster care families in Garfield County. But for the few who take children into their homes, county officials wanted to show them their appreciation over the weekend during National Foster Care Month.The county’s appreciation came in the form of a picnic on Saturday at Gregory Park in West Glenwood Springs.”We wanted to show our appreciation for our foster care parents and the parents who have adopted kids in the past,” said Brenda Wagner, the Family-to-Family coordinator for Garfield County Human Services. “We are real excited. We even got a little sunshine (today).”In the past, the county’s picnic for foster care and adoptive parents has been a little “more low key.” However, this year the organizers tried to make it more entertaining by calling in clowns and setting up a “bouncy house.””We also (had) lots of wonderful gift certificates from the community to present to (the foster and adoptive) parents,” Wagner said.Annie Delaplane, 30, who is a foster care parent in Silt, said the Saturday picnic “was wonderful.””It is very nice to meet the other foster care parents in the valley,” said Delaplane, who has four biological children and two foster children in her home, of the picnic. “There are not a lot of opportunities to get together and meet the other foster families.”In 2007, 96 children in Garfield County were placed outside of their biological homes. The county placed those children in foster homes, with family members or close friends, or into treatment centers, Wagner said.The Colorado Department of Human Services reports that from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, there were 8,117 children in the state who were in foster or group homes.Wagner said there is a resource unit with the Garfield County Department of Human Services that helps recruit and retain foster parents and kinship families in the area. And right now, there is only 11 certified foster homes in Garfield County.”That is not a lot and they are all full,” Wagner said. “A lot of what we are trying to do is recruit foster families so we can meet the needs of the kids.”We want to build up foster homes in each of the towns up and down the valley so that if a child is removed out of a home in Rifle, that we find a foster home in Rifle so that they can continue to go to the same school, have the same teacher, have the same friends.”Foster parents have to go through a certification process that can be “somewhat lengthy,” Wagner said. If a child must be placed outside of his or her home, the county first looks to place he or she with a family member or a close friend. If that is not possible, the county looks at foster care.Throughout the duration of a case, it is the hope that a child is returned to his or her biological family, Wagner said.An ongoing Family-to-Family initiative within Garfield County Human Services is largely focused on bringing foster parents “to the table” and being “a part of the team” for what is going on during a child’s transition between different homes, Wagner said.”In the past, we really focused on trying to rescue the child from the family and putting them in placement and not really having a lot of folks involved,” she said. “The Family-to-Family initiative really brings everyone to the table. We are trying to squash the old stereotype that biological parents and foster parents have about one another and bring them in right at the get-go.”Anyone interested in being a foster parent should call (970) 625-5282 Ext. 274.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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