Foster parenting: The need and how to fill it

Foster parenting: The need and how to fill it

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The need for caring foster parents in the Toledo area is tremendous.

Right now, children in our community are without a place to call home.

An informational meeting was held Wednesday for those interested in making a difference in these kids' lives.

"Anybody can be a foster parent. If you have room in your heart, and room in your home, you can be a foster parent," Jaime Gillen, State Marketing Specialist for the group that held tonight's meeting, Ohio Mentor, said.

Ohio Mentor has been working around the state for 35 years now. They're just new seeking loving homes in Toledo, since the need has become so great.

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster parent?

It's no secret, with the rise in the opioid epidemic, especially here in our area, there are more children than there are homes for them.

Courtney Woods has worked with children her whole life, and even though she is still a relatively young, single person, she feels it is important to step up as soon as she can to make a difference.

"A lot of the parents that have kids don't have support systems that know how to get out of the system that they're in, out of the trouble, out of the harm, out of the drugs. And to be a foster parent, you're helping with the kids, and you're helping with the families to help make the community a better place," Woods explained.

You may question if your circumstances will allow you to help.

"Can you be single? Can you be in a same sex relationship? Can you be widowed? And the answer is yes," said Gillen.

Wednesday's session went over those questions as well as what it takes to become a foster parent, what supports you'll receive including classes to prepare you ahead of time, and ultimately, what it means to make a difference for a child in need.

"A lot of times people are like, well my home isn't perfect, my kids aren't perfect. My life isn't perfect right now. Well, these kids don't need perfect. These kids don't need perfect. Right now they need someone to take them in and give them a loving home," Miranda Cherry, Foster Parent Recruiter for the Toledo Area with Ohio Mentor said.

You have to prove financial stability, but that can be done even if you don't own your home.

"We have kids, you know, sleeping in county offices. Definitely the counties are even contacting us because they have so many referrals coming in, so I think a lot of people think about the parents who are on these drugs, but they don't think about all the children who need homes," Cherry said.

There has never been a better time than now to help a child in need here in Toledo. If you didn't know about Wednesday's event or knew but weren't able to make it, you can still email Miranda at miranda.cherry@thementornetwork.com or call/text 419-516-2244 to learn more about how to become a foster parent, or other ways to help.

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