Social media plays a part in almost every endeavor under the sun these days including helping the Grayson County Child Welfare Board keep more local foster children local.
Currently, there are more than 200 local children who are involved in the foster care system and 143 of them are housed outside of Grayson County because there only 24 open foster homes in county.
The children placed outside of Grayson County are placed all over the state of Texas including Levelland, Hunstville, Spring, Flatonia, Beaumont, Lumberton, and Porter to name just a few places.
Grayson County Child Welfare Board member Staci Wright said the board has recently launched a new Facebook page that will serve as a meeting place of sorts for those who want to be foster families and for those who want to support foster families.
She said having children stay in this area when they are removed from their homes will help to lessen the stress on the children and on the people who want to see them. The stress on the children will be lessened because they will have a better shot at being able to stay in their same schools with their same teachers and classmates, all of which can be very stabilizing for children in transition who have experienced trauma. Keeping them in Grayson County also means they might be able to go to the same place of worship they are used to going to and seeing the same people there which would further help to stabilize their home life.
The goal is to get about 100 foster families in Grayson County but it is more than that, she said. The board also wants to make changes that will foster more community support for those families that choose to foster.
“The Facebook page will be a meeting place of sorts for those who are interested in helping the foster care situation in Grayson County,” she said.
She said not everyone can be a foster family because that is really intensive and takes a lot of resources. But most people can help in some way.
“We are pulling together support for foster families. wrapping around foster families” she said.
They are depending on the churches for the foster family support.
“For each foster family, we want four or five families who will adopt that family. Those four or five families will then provide a meal every once in a while or respite care or running errands for the foster parents, whatever they can to help make the foster family’s life a little bit easier.”
That might include taking the foster children for a day to the movies or the park. Of course, she said, there are rules in place to make sure anyone who gains access to the children involved are properly trained and screened, but it takes less of that to be someone who is going to help with a foster family than it does to become a foster family.
Those people who will support the foster families are just one piece of the puzzle, she said.
They are also creating support for the foster families in the form of support groups.
“Right now we have Victory Life Church that has jumped on board and been very willing to dive in and help us with this process. There is an organization called Tapestry down in Carrollton and they do education and support for foster families.,” she said. They provide information like how to deal with different ages and trauma that the children have been through.
She said Tapestry will bring their programs up here and teach it to Victory Life group and then other churches.
“They will then start support groups where the foster families can meet regularly and they will get education, support and fellowship together,” she said then explained that a lot of time foster families feel isolated and alone.
She said the support groups will allow newer families to mix with more experienced families and shorten the learning curve.
Bringing the fun
In addition, she said, they are going to plan fun gatherings four times a year for the foster families so that they get together and just have fun together. “So that will be like we will rent out Splash in Sherman or maybe go to Schulman’s for a group event that is just for the foster families and that will allow them to just support each other.”
Another way that people can help is to help provide the fun things that families do at holiday time.
“For Easter we might put together a nice little ham gift basket for the families so they will have some food that they can share,” she explained. The Welfare Board currently does Easter baskets and Christmas gifts for the foster children in an effort to make sure that their holidays are as close to normal as possible.
Getting the information out
“Starting in January the first Monday of every other month, at Texoma Health Foundation Community Room, we are going to have information meetings. Those meetings will start at 5:30 with a nice dinner and a guest speaker who will either be a foster parent or someone who is involved with the system. Then at 6:30 they will present information about how to become a foster family.” meeting for those who are interested in finding out more about that process.
Wright staid the new Facebook page is going to be the hub for information on all of these initiatives. “We need to pull together and take our kids back.