Southeastern aids in efforts to recruit critically-needed foster families
Contact: Christina Chapple
HAMMOND – Foster parents in the region have organized a recruitment team to get more critically needed families involved in the foster care process.
The “Foster Parent Recruitment Team” was formed in response “to the very serious need for homes for children in the custody of the state of Louisiana,” said Jane Moncrief, a licensed clinical social worker and training consultant for Southeastern Louisiana University’s social work program in the Department of Counseling and Human Development.
The team meets at Southeastern where members work with training materials developed by the university’s social work program faculty in conjunction with the Office of Community Services.
“The goal,” said Moncief, “is not only to recruit new foster homes but also to bring the message to the community of the importance of the role of foster parents in the successful growth and development of children in foster care.”
Moncrief said as of June 2006, 912 children – 714 in foster care and 88 in adoptive homes – were in the custody of the state in the Office of Community Services’ Covington Region, which includes the parishes of Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington. The total is up more than 100 children since June 2005, when 802 were in state custody.
“The number of children in foster care in the Covington Region has been in a steady growth pattern for several years,” Moncrief said. She said currently there are 405 certified foster homes in the region. “About 25 families had to drop out of the program because of problems after Hurricane Katrina,” she added.
“Statistics show that it takes 25 foster homes to meet the special needs of one foster child,” Moncrief said. “You need a large pool and we just don’t have it.”
To address the need for more foster families, Southeastern last year launched “Project Foster Homes.” The grant-funded program helps OCS recruit and train foster parents by developing recruitment models and promoting “greater community support for the complex and important job done for the community by foster parents,” Moncrief said.
Activities include working with OCS to strengthen the region’s Foster Parent Associations, devising training methods to promote a positive and productive working relationship between foster parents and state appointed foster care workers, and public outreach efforts such as designing posters and commissioning Southeastern mass communication students to create a recruitment video.
As a next step in their role in developing training and recruiting materials, Moncrief said Southeastern faculty hope to create a training package that addresses foster families’ biological children, whose needs and concerns are sometimes overlooked or which could deter families from become part of the foster parent system.
Moncrief said a large class of future foster parents has been participating in training sessions headquartered at Southeastern’s Family Enrichment Facility on North Oak Street.
Members of the Foster Parent Recruitment Team are available to speak to any appropriate community group. To make an appointment, contact Moncrief at (985) 549-2063 or Debra Carter at (985) 878-6427.