Parent blowing bubbles with children at picnic

The SAFY Village

The SAFY Village

Is this your year to foster a child?

By Caitlin Johnson, Foster Parent and Foster Parent Recruiter   

It takes a village to raise a child.

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard many times, but there’s actually science that supports it. Children with a formal or informal mentor are less likely to struggle with bullying or experience depression. They are more likely to volunteer, show more interest in learning, finish more tasks, and demonstrate emotionally stable behaviors. (Child Trends December 2013)

For my family, my husband is active duty military and deploys frequently. Because we have a decent support system in the military community, we felt confident beginning the foster process knowing we would have the support we needed! However, about a month into his first deployment I found myself without a village. Our friends had been moved on military orders. I suddenly had three foster children, and only one friend left in town. I was petrified. What if something happened? What if there was an emergency? What if I got sick? All those questions and a million more swirled around my mind!

Thankfully, SAFY came to the rescue. They were my village. We had an amazing Case Coordinator on our team. She visited weekly and was available by text almost daily. She helped me with plans and tools for managing this new territory and encouraged me to make sure I was getting the space and time I needed to parent well. She eased my concerns and did anything she could to help. She also built a strong relationship with each child. Our children’s therapist would see all three of them at the same time at least once a month so I could catch up on chores. He went above and beyond what was expected! The staff allowed me to communicate my worries and stresses without judgement and gave me the tools I needed to help each child succeed. The one time we had a crisis I was able to call them, and a familiar face arrived happy to help!

These individuals aren’t just employees, they became part of our family. They became our lifeline for support. They became trusted individuals to our children. The youth have since been adopted and we no longer require these services, but they still know these adults as trusted individuals. The youngest is seven and still writes letters to his case worker who has moved from our community. These people not only had a profound impact on myself as I navigated a lonely time as a parent, they made a lifelong impact on the children. Occasionally, when they visit the SAFY office they will excitedly tell the staff about what has been going on at school, or something silly one of their siblings did. SAFY is that village.

Fostering doesn’t have to be isolating or scary. There is a SAFY team waiting to be your village! What are you waiting for? 2020 is your year to make a difference for the youth in your community!  Visit www.safy.org and learn how you can become a foster parent.

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