Have you been thinking about becoming a foster parent? Now could be the perfect time.
The Columbia River Gorge may be facing a critical shortage of foster parents, but local agencies have banded together to tackle this challenge.
Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc., and The Next Door, Inc., both certify foster homes in the Gorge in partnership with the Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare. GOBHI and TNDI are licensed by the State of Oregon to certify foster homes for youth in local communities who are involved in the Child Welfare system, Oregon Youth Authority, or are receiving care from their local community mental health program.
Over the last few years, there has been a growing need for qualified, caring foster parents in our community. An average of 7,831 children were in foster care on a daily basis in Oregon, according to the most recently available state data from the 2017 Child Welfare Data Book.
In Hood River and Wasco counties alone, 199 youth experienced at least one day in foster care in 2017. The 61 certified foster homes across both counties were not enough to keep all of those youth in their local communities.
How it Works
Therapeutic Foster Care, which is offered through GOBHI and TNDI, is a higher level of service than one would find with traditional foster care, such as DHS. Between the three agencies, all ages of youth are able to be served, with DHS being the only agency to serve youth under the age of four.
The children and teens in Therapeutic Foster Care are in need of extra support, often due to a history of experiencing multiple traumatic events. Specialized training and support are provided to GOBHI and TNDI parents, empowering them to provide a safe environment that supports the healing process for youth.
Foster parents and agency personnel are provided training in a variety of topics such as Trauma Informed Care, de-escalation techniques, Collaborative Problem Solving, and cultural awareness. With GOBHI and TNDI, each home also receives a case manager assigned to their home for individualized support and weekly visits. Someone is also available day and night, 365 days per year, to provide support and guidance to foster parents and youth as needed.
Meeting a need
The positive impact that a foster parent can have on a child lasts a lifetime. We often hear stories of children who may have spent no more than a few months in a foster home but later in life contacted that foster parent to express their gratitude. Sometimes, all it takes in the right foster parent at the right time for a child to succeed. The relationship that is formed between a child and their foster parent can be a very special one, indeed.
If you have wanted to find a way to help children — especially those children in your very own community — this is a way. At a time in a youth’s life when everything can seem uncertain, knowing that they are going to the same school with the same friends can be the ultimate source of comfort and security.
Our foster parents come from all walks of life, including couples, single individuals, homeowners, renters, those with children, and those without. You may not have the ability to help a youth full-time, but even being available one or two weekends a month to provide relief care to our full-time providers can make a difference.
Everyone can help in ways small and large; please contact us to learn how.