Give kids an extra measure of love – become a foster familyJan 06, 2022 11:15AM ● By Becky Ginos
Utah foster mom Amy captures a photo of her foster daughter she calls ‘Cutie Girl’ as she looks out the window with a furry friend by her side. Amy has seen a change in the little girl as she starts to feel safe and loved. Courtesy photo
NORTH SALT LAKE—There are more than 500 kids from North Salt Lake to the Idaho border in foster care and Utah Foster Care is always looking for more families who can provide a safe and loving home.
“If you have space in your home and a place in your heart to become a foster parent there is an ongoing need to care for kids,” said Amy Wicks, Lead Foster Adoptive Consultant for the Northern Region of Utah Foster Care. “There are a wide range of ages. Eighty percent come with at least one sibling. We try to keep families together but those foster families are harder to find and children ages 12 down to 2 we sometimes struggle with that too.”
Utah Foster Care works to train and support foster families, she said. “First we meet with them for about an hour. We find out about what the dynamics are in the family and the process to get licensed. There are 24 hours of training required.”
It talks a lot about how a foster parent can support a child who has experienced trauma, said Wicks. “Every child in the system has had trauma. It could be abuse, neglect, etc. It’s also very traumatic to be removed from the home. We train foster families to help them make that transition and how their own family can navigate it as well.”
Once they've gone through the training they can decide if it’s a good fit and initiate the licensing process, she said. “A lot of it is what is your story and experience caring for kids and your areas of interest. You can specify age, if you want siblings, sometimes gender depending on the makeup of your own family.”
Maybe both parents work so they want a school age child, Wicks said. “You have to think ‘who is your village? Who is your support system?’”
There’s also the physical aspects of the home, she said. “Such as health and safety. Are there smoke detectors and are the cleaning supplies locked up, stuff like that.”
Wicks said some families take a group of siblings and others more than one. “Multiple families can be a bit of a challenge coordinating visitation with their parents. Foster families are made aware of what that’s going to look like.”
They are given lots of support, she said. “There is a mentoring program where we match foster families with similar backgrounds to offer advice and peer support. If they can share their experiences being foster parents it’s less daunting.”
Foster mom Amy is experiencing the power of connection with her foster daughter. “Just this weekend Cutie Girl has started making happy noises,” Amy said in a social media post. “This might sound strange and confusing but this is the reality of kids who are placed in a stranger's home. It's scary! It's unknown! She has no clue what just happened to her life! And to be honest I have very little idea of what her first year of life has looked like.”
She now makes small giggles and squeals while playing, said Amy. “She will even smile without us doing a full circus show in order to get it. Her giggles and happy sounds make my heart just beam with joy. She is feeling safe. She is feeling happy. She is feeling loved. It is incredible to witness.”
Foster families come in all shapes and sizes, Wicks said. “They can be single, married or same sex. They just need to be able to provide a safe and loving home for a child.”
For more information about becoming a foster parent or to help in other ways visit utahfostercare.org or call 877-505-5437.