In 1950, teacher, scholar, and Boy Scout executive Forest Witcraft penned an article for Scouting magazine. One quote remains popular – and powerful – to this day: “One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
The difference we can make in the life of a child extends well beyond the crucial involvement with our own children and grandchildren. We know that every child needs and deserves love and support from caring adults, and we also know that far too many children are in desperate need. The latest data from The Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Maltreatment Report ranks Kentucky fifth in the U.S. for the number of child abuse and neglect cases – a heartbreaking statistic.
We can, however, improve these numbers one child at a time. Each of us can do it, and it doesn’t take a professional degree in child development. If you have a little time and a lot of love to give, consider this a gentle call to action. Three local youth-serving organizations have an immediate need for assistance; in fact, each of their missions depends on volunteers to support the children of our community.
St. Joseph Children’s Home
Volunteers with St. Joseph Children’s Home provide children with “a place to call home” through becoming a therapeutic foster parent and/or an adoptive parent. Approximately 8,000 children in Kentucky are in need of in-home care, and there simply aren’t enough foster parents in place to serve them. Tiffany
White, St. Joe’s communication manager, wants to dispel some of the preconceived notions about foster care. “The narrative out there is based on an assumption that this ‘troubled child’ will make life miserable,” Tiffany says. “The truth that foster and adoptive parents know is that, just like caring for any child, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. My hope is to light a fire under people to get them curious enough to learn more.”
How to help St. Joseph’s Children’s Home:
- Respite care is a good first option. You can give foster parents a break by taking care of the child in your own home for an overnight or a one-week visit. You’re supporting foster parents while figuring out if you’d like to take the next step toward becoming a foster parent yourself.
- Training and preparation for foster and respite care volunteers is extensive. Each person becomes certified and well-prepared through a process that includes CPR training, home preparation, background checks, and more.
- Once the home is ready and training is complete, the matching process begins. St. Joe staff and the foster/respite care volunteers work carefully and thoughtfully to find the best fit for everyone involved.
- St. Joe’s provides 24/7 support for all their volunteers.
- Reunification of the child with their biological family is always the goal, but the bond formed between child and foster parent is one that lasts a lifetime.
“Anyone can foster a child — a single person, older person, younger person, married couple, same sex couple. There is no limitation. Love and the ability to give a child a stable home are the only criteria,” Tiffany says. “Anyone who is curious about volunteering or just wants to learn more about our work at St. Joe’s can attend an information session. We meet every first Tuesday of the month at 5:45.” To learn more, check out sjkids.org.
By Megan S. Willman | Photo by Jess Amburgey