"Kids have sometimes been in 12 or more homes before they get to us, but adoption gives them a sense of safety and permanency they've not felt before," says Megan Sutherland, Director of Foster at JCFS. Thirteen children, ages 2 to 13, were adopted through JCFS Foster Care between March and June of this year.
“There is such a passion and drive for permanency for all our kids that we serve,” says Sutherland. “Every member of our Foster Care team puts so much of themselves into the everyday of foster care. Each is driven to provide permanent homes for our kids through his or her relentless passion, hard work, care, and perseverance."
Jewish Child & Family services usually has 80 or so foster children in its system at any given time. It may be to monitor guardianship for children who are in the care of a relative, a new baby in need of temporary care while the home is stabilized, or children who are considered “pre-adoptive,” where parents’ rights are terminated and the child is available for adoption. "We manage short term, long term and permanent placements," says Sutherland. "Foster Parents may need to work with biological parents to get the kids back home, work with relatives to get them on the right track or as a last resort provide permanency through adoption or guardianship."
Children in Foster Care range in age from newborns to age 21, and the need for Foster Parents is constant, not only at JCFS but around the world. “The key characteristics for a good foster parent are patience, good communication skills, and adaptability,” says Marc Bermann, Foster Care Recruiter. “There are more special needs children coming into the substitute care system than there are qualified foster parents with whom to place them,” says Bermann.
Bermann is always looking to connect with potential Foster Parents, including his appearance on CAN-TV Channel 21 with Alderman Willie B. Cochran. The show will air at 9 pm on August 7 and August 21. In addition, "we also work with churches, community programs and other state agencies to locate foster parents, and welcome opportunities to speak to groups," adds Sutherland.
JCFS serves people of all backgrounds, ages and orientations when recruiting for new Foster Parents. Once a person has expressed interest in becoming a Foster Parent, a home visit wll take place, and then individuals will go through an intensive PRIDE Training: Parent's Resource for Information, Development and Education.
Sutherland says that families often like working with JCFS because of our timely response to concerns, the deep passion of our staff for our kids and their parents, and the broad network of support offered by the connection to a strong foster care team and broader agency.
For those who want to take part in changing the life of a child, there are plenty of options besides being a foster parent. "We are always looking for mentors and respite providers to support the JCFS team in taking an active role in the life of our kids, who yearn for role models and ongoing, consistent support. We also are always looking for gift cards to take the kids to eat, movies, baseball games or just a shopping trip to the mall. We often forget that our kids, no matter what the age, just want to be like everyone else. We use any and all resources to teach social and life skills which are invaluable to our kids," says Sutherland.
"At the end of the day we want our kids to have a place to call home...for good... and we will do whatever it takes to give them that," says Sutherland.
For information on becoming a Foster Parent, please email Marc Bermann, or call him at 312-673-2755. To hear more about how Foster Care makes a difference, please watch the video below.