By Nancy Bowman
It’s no secret that being a parent – biological or in a foster role – can be a challenge.
At Isaiah’s Place foster agency, a new retention and recruitment program introduced during the past year to help deal with challenges appears to be having positive results.
First paid for using a grant offered to agencies by the state, the program focuses on bringing foster families together for fun activities and events. Those activities, in turn, give the foster families an opportunity to talk with those who may be facing similar challenges with the children trusted to their care.
When the state funding ended after one year, Isaiah’s Place looked to those locally who have provided support before, including foundations, said Robby Lybarger, Isaiah’s Place operations director.
The response included a $2,000 grant this summer from the Tipp City Foundation and other grants approved or pending.
“We really saw the value in having these events for our families, so we were seeking support from our local foundations to be able to continue,” Lybarger said.
The families provided “a lot” of positive feedback on the program, he said. “I would say the main thing the families appreciated was having space to get together with other foster families to network, problem solve together.”
Each month, space is rented for activities such as a cookout, pool party or a pizza party. Upcoming activities will include a program through Brukner Nature Center and a holiday event.
“I think it is comfortable for parents to know others there in a similar situation, often where children may have outbursts” or other behaviors, Lybarger said.
“The kids get to run around and have fun and the parents have time to talk” about resources and other solutions, he said. Attendance often is 80 to 100 people including foster parents, foster children and biological children.
Foster parents provide a vital service, Lybarger said. Many left during the pandemic but retention has improved. The national average is around 50 percent of foster parents stopping participation after the first year. Common reasons cited include feeling alone and not having the support network they need.
Isaiah’s Place has 61 licensed homes, most within a one-hour radius and around 60 foster children, according to Lybarger. The parents range in age from their early 20s to their 60s.
The Isaiah’s Place website at www.isaiahsplace.com has details on how to become a foster parent. Those interested also are invited to attend in-person trainings or to stop by the agency office on South Stanfield Road, Troy, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Thank you to the foundation. In all areas of our operations, it seems unique to me that in this county we have so many local funders such as the Tipp City Foundation. We have been really blessed to get a lot of support,” Lybarger said.
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