Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2017

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24 Hudson Valley Parent n January 2017 By LINDA FREEMAN For children removed from their parents or primary caregivers, foster parents fill a crucial role, helping to bridge the gap between a child's removal and permanent placement. Your heart may be big and your desire to help strong, but is foster parenting right for you? By the numbers According to Mid-Hudson Valley Community Profiles - a regional, philanthropic agency that pro- vides comparative information on Dutchess, Orange and Ulster Coun- ties - over 400 children in the three counties were placed into foster care in 2015. Some children are removed by a court order (the child has been, or is at risk to be, abused or neglected) or surrendered voluntarily (the parents are temporarily unable to care for a child due to illness or finances). Par- ents who cannot care for their chil- dren have some work to do - via a court-ordered service plan that may include parenting classes, addiction counseling and more - to have their children returned. But in that interim, their children still need a safe place to live, which is where foster care comes in - pro- viding a temporary home to kids while their parents are unable to care for them. At the end of a specified period, the court decides if it is in the best interest of the child to return home, remain in foster care, or be freed for adoption. Foster parents may or may not adopt the child in their care, but adoption costs are covered if a foster parent decides to adopt a child who is freed for adoption while in the foster care system. "I wanted to have and help a child," says Vickie Obermeyer, a New Paltz resident who fostered a child that she and her husband eventually adopted. "Fostering seemed like the best of both worlds." Because the goal of the foster care system is to bring the family back together and return the child to the parent, there are no guarantees that the child may be freed for adoption. It can be traumatic for everyone to give the child back. "It's an exercise in being in the moment," says Obermeyer. "You can't worry about the future, just give the child love. That's the most important thing." Ins and outs In New York, foster care is coordinated by the state Office of Children and Family Services and administered by each county's social or community and family services Is foster parenting right for you? "I wanted to have and help a child. Fostering seemed like the best of both worlds." VICKIE OBERMEYER foster parent

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