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Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) is a child and family nonprofit preserving families and securing futures services that help families and children heal, have hope, and thrive through a model of care that includes therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, behavioral health and supports for older youth. Learn more at www.SAFY.org. 

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Our foster care expert shares why it's important to keep siblings together in the foster care system.

From birth throughout adulthood, our siblings are some of our most important relationships. Sure, brothers and sisters can drive us crazy, and sibling rivalry can be real. But for the most part, our siblings are our first friends. Our support system. Our sense of security in times of uncertainty.

For youth experiencing foster care, the bonds with siblings become even more important. When there is abuse or neglect in a home, it is siblings who often protect, comfort and care for each other.

The sad reality is that when foster care is needed, it is often challenging for us in the child welfare space to place siblings all together. Sometimes, factors outside of anyone’s control play a factor – such as the size of a sibling group, licensure of foster homes, blended families and different kinship care options, and different care needs of siblings.

But whenever possible, keeping sibling groups together while youth experience foster care can play a huge role in helping ensure they overcome trauma and thrive, not to mention preventing them from experiencing additional trauma as a result of being separated from their siblings. If you are considering becoming a foster parent, here are three reasons why you should open your heart to fostering sibling groups:

    1. Emotional health and support. Imagine first experiencing abuse or neglect, and then being removed from the only home you have ever known. Now, imagine having to do it as a child, alone. This is the heartbreaking reality for youth experiencing foster care. The separation of siblings can lead to additional, unnecessary trauma – an unfair burden to youth who have already experienced so much through no fault of their own. Being able to stay with siblings can support emotional health by knowing they have a familiar support with them. 
    2. A feeling of family. One of the most important goals of fostering is providing a safe, loving home environment for however long youth are in our care. An important part of this is the environment of being in a family. As the adjustment to a new family can take some time for youth experiencing foster care, having siblings there helps provide a sense of stability and familiarity. Additionally, siblings can help each other speak up for their needs, routines and other ways to provide normalcy in their foster home.

 

  • Long-term togetherness. Children can experience foster care for a short period of time, or even months or years. Keeping sibling groups together helps ensure they will have that sense of stability regardless of how long they are in foster care. And if it is determined that the youth cannot be safely reunited with their birth family, having siblings together while they experience foster care can help them ultimately be adopted together.

 

For more information about ways to give, becoming a foster parent or supporting youth experiencing foster care and vulnerable families, visit www.SAFY.org. Together, we can help keep families together and ensure youth experiencing foster care overcome trauma, thrive and reach their highest potential.

Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) is a child and family nonprofit preserving families and securing futures services that help families and children heal, have hope, and thrive through a model of care that includes therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, behavioral health and supports for older youth. Learn more at www.SAFY.org

By Charisse Penn, SAFY Columbus Foster Parent Recruiter and Toneia Williams, SAFY Cincinnati Foster Parent Recruiter 

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Thinking of becoming a foster parent? Our experts share the different types of fostering options to help you make the biggest impact on a child's life.

So you are thinking about becoming a foster parent. As a foster parent recruiter, that is music to our ears! Truly, the need for foster parents in Ohio has never been greater. Throughout the state, there are more than 16,600 children in need of the care of a foster family – including 2,000 in Franklin County and 1,200 in greater Cincinnati.

What’s important for everyone, especially interested foster parents, to understand is that children are placed in foster care due to no fault of their own. The reality is, no child or teen is perfect. Think back to when you were a child. Did you disobey your parents or teachers on occasion? Did you have mood swings or just want to be alone sometimes? Did you have bad days? We’re willing to bet the answer is yes.

Youth experiencing foster care are no different. They unfortunately often get a bad reputation simply because they are in foster care. The truth about youth in foster care is they are just like other kids. The only difference is often times, they’ve had to endure traumatic experiences that no child ever should. But like all kids, they deserve a loving, supportive family to help them grow, thrive, and live up to their full potential.

As you consider taking the next step to becoming a foster parent, it’s also important to understand there are different types of foster care. The most common are traditional fostering and therapeutic fostering.

Traditional Foster Care

Traditional foster care is what most people think of when they think of foster parenting – this is when a child is temporarily placed with a licensed foster family when their biological parents cannot, for whatever reason, adequately care for them. Foster care is typically arranged through the court system and various social service agencies. A child can be in foster care for a short period of time, or even months or years. The goal is for the child to be reunited with their birth family. But in some cases, a youth in foster care may become eligible for permanent adoption if it is determined the child cannot be safely reunited with the birth family.

Therapeutic Foster Care

Therapeutic foster care, sometimes referred to as treatment foster care, takes traditional fostering to the next level by considering the additional social, emotional and behavioral support needed to help youth experiencing foster care who are working through the impacts of trauma. 

With therapeutic foster care:

  • Foster families receive specialized training for trauma healing and behavioral coping skills to support youth’s mental, physical, social and emotional well-being. 
  • Becoming a licensed therapeutic foster parent can require additional training hours, and the reimbursement rate is often higher to accommodate the additional training and care needed

SAFY is a therapeutic foster care provider, and we are proud of the support we provide our foster families to ensure they are equipped to help children of all ages experiencing foster care overcome trauma and thrive for however long the child is in their care.

For more information about ways to give, becoming a foster parent or supporting youth experiencing foster care and vulnerable families, visit www.SAFY.org. You can be the difference in the life of a child!

By Charisse Penn, SAFY Columbus Foster Parent Recruiter and Toneia Williams, SAFY Cincinnati Foster Parent Recruiter 

Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) is a child and family nonprofit preserving families and securing futures services that help families and children heal, have hope, and thrive through a model of care that includes therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, behavioral health and supports for older youth. Learn more at www.SAFY.org

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To honor this special month, we learn how helping foster children and families in need is more important now than ever. Read on for more.

Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) is a child and family nonprofit preserving families and securing futures services that help families and children heal, have hope, and thrive through a model of care that includes therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, behavioral health and supports for older youth. Learn more at www.SAFY.org.

In times of crisis, what’s most inspiring is when ordinary people find ways to help those in need.

Here at SAFY, a nonprofit preserving families and securing futures through therapeutic foster care, we’ve seen the Cincinnati community step up. Offering to watch children for foster parents who aren’t able to work from home. Delivering food. Running errands. Sharing resources for home education. Checking in on older youth who may find themselves unable to work or without a job.

Right now, there is a desperate need to provide foster families and at-risk populations with additional financial support and resources — and individuals around us are responding to this call.

While everyone is affected by this pandemic in some way, children are especially vulnerable because of factors likeabuse, domestic violence, and homelessness.

Sadly, over the past few months, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of children needing foster families. At the start of 2020, there were more than 1,000 children in Hamilton County needing foster care. Since March 1, SAFY of Cincinnati has had a 17% increase in referrals for placements, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As COVID-19 ravages our world, home is not always the safest place for kids to be. This is an unfair burden for youth who have already experienced trauma, through no fault of their own.

We are responding urgently to ensure the safety and stability of children and their families through this uncertain time. Our team of social workers, clinicians, and family therapists are continvvuing to serve in innovative ways, using telehealth and other technologies to reach people. And, thanks to virtual training sessions, SAFY is providing opportunities for caring families to start the process of becoming licensed foster parents — so, once it is safe, a pipeline of foster parents will be available.

Together, we will get through this. In the meantime, if you’re looking for ways to become the helpers and the heroes, please visit www.SAFY.org or call 513-771-7239.

This National Foster Care Month, you can be the difference.

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SAFY is looking for ways to help at-risk and foster families in our community. Click here to read more about how you can help support them.

At Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY), our mission of “preserving families and securing futures” is grounded in the principle of shared responsibility. When it comes to children in foster care, kids needing permanent homes through adoption, vulnerable families and older youth, it is our collective responsibility to respond to their needs. Because when families are strong, communities are strong – and we all benefit.

Shared responsibility is a theme that has come to the forefront as we collectively navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone, regardless of social class, age, race, income, occupation or beliefs is faced with the reality of staying at home, social distancing and doing our best to keep ourselves and others healthy. As our leaders continue to share, we are in this together.

Many families are looking for ways to help others in the community during this time while they stay home and practice social distancing. And SAFY needs your help.

There is a great need for additional financial support and resources to help foster families, youth in older youth programs and at-risk families. Youth in foster care now more than ever need safe, loving and stable homes. Our older youth in independent living programs rely on jobs, training programs and resources to help them navigate life without the safety net of a family. And the vulnerable families SAFY serves are facing the increased stresses of job losses, child care needs and increased mental stress.

Your gift will help us provide critical clinical services, financial resources and support to help our youth and families during this challenging time. If you feel led to give, donate to SAFY at https://www.safy.org/donate.

We know families everywhere are looking for free, family-friendly activities to keep their kids engaged while at home. If you know of great resources, platforms or activities to share, please email us at info@safy.org. We are actively sharing these resources with our network of foster families!

Finally, in addition to financial support, there is still a critical need for foster families to meet the demand of youth needing a safe, loving home. We are working hard to offer virtual trainings, home visits and licensing so that we can continue to build our foster family community while safely social distancing. If are interested in learning how to become a foster parent, please complete our Request for Information form to get started.

For more information about ways to give, becoming a foster parent or supporting foster children and vulnerable families, visit www.SAFY.org. We are all in this together!

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