April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Agencies throughout Utah work together to help children who suffer from abuse. Utah Foster Care is one such agency.
Utah Foster care is a non-profit organization that finds, educates and supports families to care for children of all ages. Children who are in the foster care program range in ages from birth to 19 . Locally, there are nearly 100 foster care children in Carbon and Emery counties. However, there are fewer than 25 foster homes in this area which is a problem Utah Foster Care Eastern Region Area Representative Kobi Prettyman, would like to change.
According to Prettyman, there are currently 35 children under age five, 37 aged 6-13 and 27 children 14 and over, all of which need families in the local area.
вЂњWe have some children in care outside of the area due to the lack of homes here,вЂќ she said.
It would be ideal for local children in foster care to remain in the area.
A lack of understanding may contribute to the low number of local foster parents. Prettyman encourages anyone interested in the program to find out more information.
Foster care’s focus is to provide homes to children who are under state custody, temporarily or permanently. Prettyman indicated that 40% of foster children do return home. However, many children are adopted by their foster parents.
Prettyman, a mother of two, adopted both her children through the foster care program. She explained that she became a foster parent with the hopes of making a difference in the life of a child. It turned out that the children made a difference in her life as well.
There are many benefits of foster parents, including state funded health care for the children. Although limited compensation is available, being a foster parent to a child who comes from an unstable home is the most rewarding part of foster care, said Prettyman.
She also mentioned that not all children in the program are troubled. Many come from troubled or abusive backgrounds, but are good kids. The stigma attached to foster care sometimes deters people from becoming foster parents. There are several resources for prospective foster parents from which to gather information.
The local foster care organization offers a training every three months for new foster parents. The organization also offers forums for families and children of foster care to interact and share their personal experiences, a program which Prettyman strongly recommends.
вЂњForums allow the actual people in foster care to share their stories,вЂќ she said. вЂњSometimes hearing from them is more powerful than listening to a representative.вЂќ
The next forum for families will be conducted at the Utah Foster Care Foundation’s Price office on May 7. A foster care training program will take place in May as well. As numbers indicate, foster families are in great need in the local area.
Before becoming a certified foster parent participants must attend training, forums, pass background checks, and home inspections. Because forums and trainings are conducted only every three months, anyone interested in becoming part of the program is encouraged to begin the process right away and be part of the next forum in May.
There are other ways to assist the organization. Fundraisers are conducted regularly to increase awareness of the program and to earn funds to support its efforts.
A root beer float event is scheduled for May 17 at KFC in Price. A percentage of the proceeds will go to foster care.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the organization can either contact the local office located in the Utah Department Of Workforce Services building in Price, or by visitiing utahfostercare.org.