Impacting Children’s Lives with Foster Care

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Mar 03
Lisa Fannin, Area Director
Dungarvin Ohio
Image: The Berger Foster Family

 

Becoming a foster parent is not for the faint of heart.

It requires time, patience, and willingness to open your home and your life up to scrutiny. After completing 65 hours of required training, potential foster parents are subjected to an extensive assessment process, which requires them to prove that they are mentally and physically capable of being a foster parent, that they are financially stable, that their home is safe. The process can take several months, and not everyone who starts the process finishes it. For those that do, they will have the opportunity to impact children’s lives in a profound way.

Children enter foster care for many reasons and from varying situations. Dungarvin Ohio takes in children who have broken bones, burns, scars, and both developmental and medical needs. There are children who have been so severely neglected that they do not speak, cannot read or write and some who have never attended school. They have been living in cars, living in filth, living in shelters. There are children who come into care and flinch when someone attempts to touch them, scream when they get near the bathtub or hear running water, and who are afraid of what bedtime brings.

Despite the extensive assessment process, the training and the documentation requirements, despite the horrific things that they will hear and see, there are wonderful people who choose to be foster parents. Dungarvin Ohio currently has 21 licensed foster homes; here are a few examples of our foster parents who have shown that their desire is most definitely to change the world one heart at a time.

Jeremy and April Berger:

The Bergers, pictured above, have only been licensed since April 2016, but have excelled in their role as foster parents specifically with children with medical needs. To date, all of the children placed in their care have had varying degrees of medical conditions and all were behind on their immunizations and medical appointments. Two of these children came to them with broken bones, one was tongue-tied which required a procedure to clip her tongue, and one was born without a spleen, a condition that requires her to be given medication multiple times each day. All of these children have shown much improvement in the short time they have been in their home – to include learning to crawl, learning to eat food, catching up on missed medical appointments and improving their development. The children in their home are loved as if they are their own, not only by Jeremy and April, but by their extended family and friends, as well. The bond that their children share with them is palpable and the improvement in their lives is phenomenal. A caseworker who has worked with the family stated “The Bergers are wonderful foster parents and caregivers. They never fail to provide the consistency and dedication that the child deserves in regards to not just her medical care, but her daily basic needs, too, including love and attention. They are a true pleasure to work with!”

Sonia and Andge Williams:

Across town, the Williams family (which includes three of their biological children) and their four foster sons are gearing up for the day at 7am. The foster parents are working with the boys, all 3 years old and younger, on potty-training, hand-washing, brushing their teeth and taking turns. Additionally they spend time each day focused on physical therapy and occupational therapy-type activities, including playing with blocks and puzzles. And each and every day they dance. Their free time includes playing in the play area specifically designated for the children or watching educational programming on television. When they are not attending medical appointments or family visits, they can be found playing outside or enjoying story time. One of the children in the home came to them with a diagnosis of “Failure to Thrive” and required a feeding tube for his nutrients. He has been in the home since July and no longer requires the feeding tube. The Williams family has worked with him to get him to try new foods and encourages him to eat even when he seems disinterested. Ms. Williams is an RN and does an excellent job of ensuring that his food intake is high in nutrients and calories to help his developing body. The same child was bear-crawling when he was placed in the home at 18 months old. He is now walking and showing improvement with those skills daily. When his brother came into care with Franklin County his mother asked specifically if he could be placed with Sonia and Andge. And the reason is clear. Walking into their home is reminiscent of a preschool classroom with the warmth of a family mixed in. There is routine and structure and lots and lots of love. In fact, Ms. Williams reports that if they asked her to adopt the brothers she would do so in a heartbeat.

Ernestine Jenkins:

Image: Foster Parent Ernestine

Foster Parent Ernestine Jenkins

Mrs. Jenkins, along with her late husband, has been a foster parent for over 30 years, the last 15 of which have been with Dungarvin Ohio. In that time she has cared for many children in her home. She has also adopted many of her previous foster children and those that she did not adopt still come to visit and maintain contact with her. Even at 76 years old, she is making a difference in the lives of foster children. One young lady in particular, CM, diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Autism, came to Mrs. Jenkins’ home six years ago when she was just 12 years old. In this time, CM has learned to communicate her needs, despite the fact that she is non-verbal. She and Ernestine have formed a wonderful bond with each other and can communicate by means other than words. CM understands simple commands and follows directions very well. She is comfortable in the home and is very bonded with Mrs. Jenkins, her room and the house. Mrs. Jenkins has been open to visits with this young lady’s family and since they live out of town has allowed them to come to her home to conduct the visits. Mrs. Jenkins has stated that had it not been for her own age, that she would have adopted this young lady years ago. For now, Mrs. Jenkins will continue to provide a loving home and permanency for her.

Being a foster parent is a full-time job. They do not foster for the money nor the title. They do so because they are driven to care for children. To give them a chance at a life that previously wasn’t possible for them. Thank you to all of Dungarvin Ohio’s dedicated foster parents!

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Comments

  1. Jan Carver,

    Hats off to each of you. What precious gifts of life. Thank you for sharing these stories, Lisa.

    Reply

  2. Tammy Hart,

    Wonderful stories of loving individuals making a difference.

    Reply