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 May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize foster parents and families who help the children and youth in Santa Clara County foster care by opening their hearts and homes to provide them with safety and stability.  Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors proclaimed May as Foster Care Appreciation Month at its Board of Supervisor’s Regular Meeting, to recognize the outstanding contributions of hundreds of foster parents.

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“We cannot stress enough the great need we have for foster parents to protect our community’s most vulnerable children,” said President Mike Wasserman, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “National Foster Care Month is a great opportunity for individuals and families to learn how they can make that happen and change a life.”

Each year, the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children’s Services recognizes one foster parent or couple for their exemplary work serving and caring for abused or neglected children in the foster care system, to highlight the dedication and generosity in time and service of hundreds of foster parents in the county. The 2014 Foster Parents of the Year are Oscar Lopez and Verónica Gonzalez, a couple who since 2007 have exhibited a caring, nurturing, and protective approach to parenting children placed in their care. For over seven years they have been tireless advocates for educational, medical, and mental health services needed by children placed in their care.

Since August of 2013, Oscar and Verónica have provided a loving and nurturing home for a very special medically fragile child.  These caregivers continue to provide 24/7 care and supervision of this child, while they also are parents of two older children with unique needs.

“It is so important to a child’s healthy development to have a sense of belonging and to feel that someone cares about him,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Chair of the Board’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee. “Many extraordinary foster parents transform uncertainty into loving and stable environments for children that desperately need a sense of belonging to develop and thrive.”

Over the past year, the number of children entering into foster care has increased in Santa Clara County by 13 percent, which represents an additional 154 in our local foster care system. Nearly half of children are placed with relative caregivers.

There is still a great need for foster parents from our multicultural and diverse neighborhoods to protect our community’s vulnerable children. Opportunities abound to provide care for foster children, including infants, children, teens, sibling groups and those with special needs. These youngsters deserve to be loved, and this month is a great opportunity for individuals and families to learn how they can make that happen and change a life. There are over 1,200 children in home care in Santa Clara County.

“We encourage our local community members to consider becoming Resource Families,” said Lori Medina, Director of the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children’s Services. “We need families who are excited and willing to be trained to provide temporary care for children, and can assist their families with reunification services. These children need loving care until their own families are able to care for them again. Children of all ages, with a variety of needs, are waiting to be welcomed into your home to become part of your family.”

The step-by-step process to become a foster parent is as follows:

1) Call 408-299-KIDS to get answers about what is needed to be a foster parent

2) Potential foster parents will be linked to a recruiter who will guide them through the process to become a Resource Family

3) An informational meeting, followed by a 27-hour Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) training course. During this class, you will be introduced to the foster care system and learn how to care for a foster child.

4) While attending Pre-approval training, you will complete the other Resource Family Pre-approval requirements, including a permanency assessment and background check.

5) Once the approval process is completed, in approximately 90 days, you will be prepared and ready to welcome foster children into your home.

If you are interested in becoming a Resource Family, please visit the County’s website at: http://www.sccgov.org/fpr and call 408-299-KIDS, the foster parent recruitment hotline.

 

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