MEXICO – The Foster-Adoptive Recruitment Team at Oswego County Department of Social Services is searching for caring, compassionate people to provide shelter for dozens of children in foster care.
“At any given time, there are up to 60 children in foster care and less than half of the teens in care have the option of residing in a local foster home,” said Stacy Alvord, commissioner of Oswego County DSS. “As a result, they are placed in foster, group or other types of homes and residential facilities outside the county. It is essential that we are able to provide them with a safe, stable environment in-county.”
Couples and single people over the age of 21 who meet New York State’s basic requirements for approval are invited to apply to the foster parent program.
Applicants must show adequate income to support their own family, suitable sleeping and living space to accommodate foster children, and access to reliable transportation.
They must also provide a physician’s statement, personal and employer references, and submit to background checks.
“The primary aim of foster care is to provide a nurturing setting for a child to achieve maximum growth and development,” said Patty Pennock, a senior caseworker at Oswego County DSS. “Due to the nature of the situation, it is necessary for applicants to undergo a thorough screening process and pre-service training.”
All prospective foster parents will receive an informational packet and are invited to attend an orientation meeting which DSS hosts monthly.
The next informational meeting is scheduled for Feb. 11 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Oswego County DSS on Spring Street in Mexico.
After attending an informational meeting, prospective foster parents begin weekly classes in the foster care program.
The 30-hour series is offered twice a year, on weeknights or Saturdays, and takes approximately three months to complete.
While some classes cover child behavior management, the primary focus of the program is to give the applicant an opportunity for complete self-evaluation before continuing the process.
After completing the classes, the prospective foster family receives a caseworker evaluation in which their application, references and clearances are all checked.
They also participate in a “home study,” which includes a home visit and interviews with each family member to put together a comprehensive assessment of the family home.
The ongoing process continues with caseworker evaluations during twice monthly visits after child placement, and six-hour refresher classes and re-certification every year.
“The responsibility of caring for someone else’s child may seem overwhelming at first,” said Pennock. “However, as applicants learn more about the support services available and how the foster parent role has changed in recent years, they will gain a new perspective about how important this program is.”
She added, “As a foster parent, they are key members of a team that contributes to the growth and development of the child. They work closely with an experienced foster care caseworker and their supervisor as well as the birth parents, clinicians, schools and other community agencies to make important decisions affecting the child’s future.”
For more information about becoming a foster care parent and helping a child in need, come to the next informational meeting Feb. 11.
For details, contact Patty Pennock at 315-963-5382 or [email protected]