GREAT FALLS – According to Youth Dynamics, every year almost 4,000 Montana children enter foster care due to abuse, neglect and other serious difficulties within their families.
“There’s nowhere near that many homes,” Youth Dynamics Family Development Coordinator Bethany Grohs said.
Grohs says there is a need for more couples to become foster parents.
“I would encourage anyone who’s thought about doing it to just do it,” Grohs said.
Grohs works to find families and license them to be approved foster parents.
She says two of the biggest concerns future parents have are behavioral issues and becoming too attached.
“We want parents who kind of teach the child love by loving them. Give the child security and stability,” Grohs said. “Attachment is a key factor in stable placements and also it’s a key factor in being a bright spot in that child’s life.”
Grohs says Youth Dynamics really focuses on helping these future parents through the process.
“Youth Dynamics really supports foster parents with wrap around care. There’s a whole care team that comes with the child and want to be there to support parents. The more support a parent has the more likely there will be a success in placements,” Grohs said.
Parents like Ashley and Jake Mcfarlin can attest to that.
“There was a lot of stress and anxiety about whether this was the right thing to do or not for us but we haven’t looked back,” Jake said.
The couple started the fostering process and within three to four months had children placed in their homes. They were nervous having heard some of the myths of foster care.
“When we got in to it we found out really quick that kids are really super resilient. When shown a loving home and a stable home it’s amazing the transformation that they can make,” Jake said.
“You’re going to have to your struggles. You’re going to have your moments when you wonder if what you’re doing is the right thing and you’re wondering if you are handling it correctly. That’s one thing I didn’t realize in the beginning as I do now. Youth Dynamics has provided so much support for us,” Ashley said.
Once a child is in a home for six months, the family can petition to adopt.
And that’s exactly what Ashley and Jake plan to do.
“I feel like we’re changing the lives of these kids. We’ve given them an opportunity to grow and to find stability and we’ve seen a tremendous transformation in the short time that we had them. It makes me really excited for the future,” Jake said.
“Just being there and having that child know that you are that stability and that you are there for whatever you might need and they can always come to you for that for that comfort and that love or even just that hug,” Ashley said. “I would not change it for a second. Our life would not be what it is now without the kids that we have in our life. I would not change that for anything.”
To become a foster parent, you need to complete a background check, financial assessment and parenting training.
“I try to make the process as easy as possible by breaking it up into segments. Rather than getting that whole packet all at once, I do it through a series of meetings that break it up pretty well and make it less overwhelming,” Grohs said.
But there are other options if you are not ready to become a foster parent. Youth Dynamics also looks for respite providers and mentors.
“Being a foster parent with Youth Dynamics means that you won’t be alone and you’ll have a care team just wrapped around you for success,” Grohs said.
Story by Elizabeth Transue