Be the home where healing happens
Boys & Girls Aid is proud to join a collaborative effort between foster care agencies focused on recruiting and certifying foster parents who will provide support for Oregon's most at-risk youth.
Called Foster Plus, the campaign's goal is to add 150 new foster beds over the next three years. The collaborative is made-up of 13 organizations who provide foster care services to 33 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Using innovative research and storytelling, the Foster Plus campaign brings together the different efforts of each agency under one unified voice to raise awareness around the importance of fostering.
The campaign couldn't come at a better time. Oregon's foster care system is currently struggling with large deficits of qualified foster homes. Lacking enough foster parents, children miss out on being in homes where they feel loved and supported. A lot of the trauma and challenges from their past go unaddressed.
Boys & Girls Aid signed on to increase the number of available adults who can be that important connection. With the right foster home, the influence of a supportive adult can be transformational.
This difference can be seen in the relationship foster parent Zoe has with the young people she has served in her own home. Over the last two years, Zoe has built a bond with two teenage girls who had little hope in having their needs met. Angel and Chy had both experienced turbulent childhoods. They knew little about being in a stable home with a reliable parent.
With Zoe, they found a place where they were accepted and loved. Because of this, Angel and Chy said they are in a much better place. Chy went from a 1.4 GPA to honor roll and Angel is working toward getting a degree.
“The first day I moved in, it was like boom I felt it,” Angel said. “I am happy and content with my life. It was just the love I needed.”
With more than 7,500 children in Oregon’s foster care system, there is a strong need for foster parents who can make meaningful connections. Foster Plus agencies serve youth with higher needs than the general foster care population. Many have been in the foster care system for a significant amount of time or have behaviors from extreme trauma or neglect. These are kids who are at a critical point in their lives where a foster parent can make a major difference.
With the additional attention, each Foster Plus agency has extra support to ensure foster parents are successful. The benefit of fostering through a Foster Plus agency is having a team of qualified foster care professionals. Foster parents receive specialized training to be prepared for kids with higher needs. They work with a local agency who will be there to provide frequent and regular visits to offer custom care. In times of crisis, there is 24/7 support from case managers and counselors.
Mindy and Amanda have been foster parents for six years. While most of their placements have been positive, when they have faced challenges, staff have been there to support them. They say the whole experience is completely worth it.
“With all the children we’ve had, I don’t know without all of the supports we would have been able to do this for five years,” Mindy said. “Caseworkers and skills trainers pop in to chat with us. They are there for the children to make sure their needs are being meet.”
“They’ve gotten us through some pretty tough times with great kids, but kids who need extra help,” she said.
Rebecca Davis, who is a therapist for Youth Progress, said it is powerful to see the impact foster parents have on the lives of children. She said youth in foster care have been through very challenging situations and they are waiting for someone to have a big impact on their lives.
"You are going to be an amazing foster parent and you are going to be the thing that these children need," she said. "You could be the person who can change their entire life just by loving them."