WHY NOT YOU?

GIRLBonny-stripstraighton-SHTRSTK-lowThis year, approximately 800 New Hampshire children will find themselves in need of foster homes. Most will have been removed from their own homes due to parental abuse or neglect.  They’ll range from birth to age 18, have a wide range of circumstances, and will hail from every corner of the state.  Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed foster homes to accommodate all of the children in need in New Hampshire.  

Child and Family Services of NH, a private, nonprofit, is working in partnership with the State Department of Health and Human Services’ Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), to recruit foster homes throughout New Hampshire.  Together, the agencies are reaching out to citizens across the state to raise awareness of, and interest in fostering, and to provide on-going support for foster families.

The children who are in need of foster care have had difficult lives because of parental neglect, abandonment, exposure to drugs and alcohol, and physical, emotional or sexual abuse.  Some children enter foster care when no relatives are able to care for them, either after a parent dies, or when the family is not equipped to handle their complicated special needs.  Some of the youth are children in need of supervision or are delinquent youth.  No matter their background or specific history, they have all experienced loss and have suffered from trauma.
DCYF, CFS, and other private foster care agencies, work together to ensure that when children need to be placed in care, they can stay in their own communities, thereby remaining in their own school with their own friends and familiar comforts, and with the least amount of disruption.  

The length of stay in foster care is different for each child, depending upon the situation.   When it is possible, and in the child’s best interest to reconnect  with the family, services are put into place for that, and foster parents are asked to be a part of the reunification team.  In cases where reunification is not viable, and there are no other family options, the children may then be adopted.

One of the obstacles to fostering is the fear of what it takes to become a foster parent.  However,  CFS and the State Division for Children, Youth and Families, along with several social service providers throughout the state, provide a clear and comprehensive roadmap, along with training, resources and round-the-clock support for foster families.  

“To be a foster parent, you don’t need to be wealthy, married or own a home,” says Katie Cassidy, foster care recruiter/specialist, from Child and Family Services.  “You also don’t need to have an advanced degree or have experience raising children.    You DO have to have a big heart, adequate finances and an adequate living space, as well as stability in your life and relationships.  And, it helps to have a sense of humor.”
The major requirement is a willingness to commit to a child or youth in care and assist him/her in working towards case plan goals.

“Some children in need of a home are sibling groups, some are teenagers, some have special needs, or cultural differences, and others are just like your kids,” explains Cassidy.  “This is why we need to build a great pool of resource families.  It’s traumatic enough for a child to be removed from the only home he or she has ever known, so we endeavor to place the child in the most appropriate environment that will be most conducive not only to the child, but to the foster family as well.”  

For further information on becoming a foster parent, visit the dedicated pages on Child and Family Services’ website, www.cfsnh.org, or call 603-518-4351 to discuss with a foster care specialist.  Official NH forms and further information may be accessed on the State of NH Department of Health and Human Services website, www.dhhs.nh.gov.


“Fostering can be a greatly rewarding and enriching experience,” Galligan adds, “not only because you see how you are changing the life of a child, but by the love you receive in return.”