By Cathy Harcus, MS, Contributing Writer
NWF Health Network oversees the foster care contract in three circuits that cover the area from Pensacola to Panama City to Tallahassee. It is the mission of the NWF Health Network Foster Family Support program to recruit, license, and support quality resource families who are trauma-informed, trained and well-equipped to serve children. I am privileged to work on this team as the Recruitment and Retention Manager.
In my personal life, I am a retired foster parent of 18 years. My husband and I opened our home to 57 children. The anxious and nervous feeling of waiting on a child to arrive on our doorstep was the same for the first child as the 57th child. My husband and I feel we have both achieved many successes in our educational and professional lives. However, these successes are fleeting and not eternal. We both agree the time spent sowing into the lives of children from Bay County is our greatest success. We believe the investment in their lives will follow them forever. Fostering is a guaranteed avenue to know that you have made an eternal impact that will outlast your time on this earth.
Am I asking you to invest 18 years into being a foster parent? Absolutely not! What I would like you to consider asking yourself is, “Could I help one child, one time, seeing them through to the next leg of their journey? Could I spend the next year focusing on making the life of a child better? Do I have space in my heart and home to welcome a child?” We are looking for local people to help stand in the gap for local kids in a temporary fashion. The goal of foster care is to get birth families healthy enough to receive their children back into their home and family. You can open your home and be a safe place for these children to land until it is safe for them to be reunified with their families.
What if you didn’t know this is what your life was missing? Maybe fostering is the missing piece in your life! The perfect foster parents are normal everyday people. The minimum age is 21 years old and there is no maximum age. We have an 81-year-old foster mom who is living her best life loving on babies every day! If you are a professional that works outside of the home or a single person who has time and love to give, you can foster! If you are an empty nester with some extra time on your hands, you can foster!
If it is not your season to foster, that is absolutely okay! While we know not everyone can be a foster parent, everyone can do something! Here are some additional ways you can help:
- We need community members who can make meals for foster families. We love to send a meal when a family welcomes their first child or has a child reunify after a long stay.
- We can use volunteers at training events we host for foster families.
- We can always use “new” luggage & other items for children in foster care to use.
We would love to connect with you and help you figure out which piece you have been missing! We will get you plugged in to helping local children from our community. We live in the most generous community in Florida, and we are so thankful for you and your heart to serve. For more information, contact Cathy Harcus at (850) 819-7902 or [email protected].
To view the article please visit What If You Didn’t Know You Were Missing Something? (strollmag.com)