Have you ever thought of being a foster parent? Being a foster parent is hard work and it requires opening your home to other individuals. Yet, foster parenting can be the most gratifying work you will ever consider. Lafayette County is always looking to have more foster families and we understand taking the first step is challenging. One of our foster families summed up what their first few months of being a foster family has been like.
Nick and Whitney McElrath of Darlington said, “Foster care has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things our family has ever embarked upon. We had really walked into the process slowly, with a good deal of fear and insecurities. We had barely completed our paperwork, with the intention of doing some respite care for a few months until we felt ready to take on a placement. However, God had different plans for us. Within days we were placed with a 9 month-old baby, and a couple of weeks later, her two sisters (ages 4 and 2). In what seemed like a whirlwind, we had a chance to care for this new family of ours, despite always feeling just a step or two behind around every turn.
“Over the past 9 months we have learned how to care for three additional kids (to go with our 3 biological children). We were reintroduced to diapers, nap times, incomprehensible tantrums, and 485 types of sicknesses passed through our household all winter long. It has been a struggle at times, but we have also witnessed a great deal of growth and change in all of our lives. We fell in love with three little girls who have done remarkably well in our home. We have grown thankful for the opportunity, for the support system within the county, for the developing relationship with the girl’s mom, and for the lessons we are learning in our own lives... and for respite workers (we are very thankful for that)!
“As we write this, we are now in the reunification stages of our placement. We have been fortunate to see the three girls in our care grow, develop and begin to navigate the journey back to their mom’s home. The process has been filled with ups and downs, and the forecast seems to change constantly. However, we now look back with a great joy and satisfaction for all that God has done in bringing this family into the care of our family for a time. While meeting to pick up the girls from their mom’s last week, she told us that her oldest now tells people that she has 2 moms and 1 dad. Mom went on to tell us how thankful she was that her kids have a second family now along with her family. Her girls now have more siblings, and more parents to help for years to come... we cried... a lot.”
On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. There are approximately 7,000 children in the Wisconsin foster care system. To become a foster parent you need to be 21-years-old, complete a criminal background check, have your home meet all physical environment requirements, and be a responsible adult.
Foster parents play a critical role for children, families, and agencies. The foster parents primary task is to temporarily care for a child until the child’s permanence goal is achieved. If the time with a child is just for a few days or even a few years, every day is important for that child and the people that care about them.
More information on foster care can be found at dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become. For information on foster care in Lafayette County, contact Baylee Backes, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-776-4934.