By: Christopher Davis | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: October 2014
Shenelle Flowers and Michele Rosdahl of TFI Family Connections.
It is no secret that our state has a crisis when it comes to providing resources and safe homes for displaced children, but the numbers can be paralyzing. “There are 12,025 children in out of home care, with less than 2,000 foster homes statewide in Oklahoma,” explains Rachelle Roosevelt, executive director of TFI Family Connections LLC.
In Tulsa County alone, only 235 foster homes are certified, while more than 1,800 children are in need of placement. Surrounding communities’ statistics are hardly more optimistic. “A large number of children in OKDHS custody are placed in shelter care, even as young as 5 and 6 years of age,” Roosevelt explains. “These children should have a safe family home to live in.”
TFI Family Connections LLC is a private not-for-profit organization providing services and support for foster children and families across Oklahoma. In partnership with OKDHS and other related departments, the organization is expanding its reach while maintaining a deep commitment to quality care. Roosevelt and the staff at TFI are digging in and leading the way in the ongoing struggle to recruit families willing to place children in positive, loving homes.
Currently serving about 100 children and 68 certified families, the organization is also working with another 100 families in the process of getting certified in the state. Such anticipated expansion may sound like a lot, but there is still a great need for more foster families in Oklahoma.
Roosevelt says the need for homes extends to any age, from 0 to 21. She adds, “While 76 percent of children in care are under the age of 10, the hardest to find placement for are teenagers.”
Potential foster parents must go through a process that includes assessments, background check and 27 hours of training. Along the way, a worker will meet with new foster parents to develop a home study, which will provide the basis for matching a child with your household. After the home study, the process is mainly paperwork. Once contracts are signed, DHS reviews and approves the contracts, after which children are able to be placed in your home. However, it all begins with completing an initial application.
Those interested in supporting TFI, but are unable to provide a home environment, are encouraged to consider donating time or resources to the endeavor. Volunteers are always welcome, as are donations. Support for sports, art classes, and musical instruments is especially helpful. School supplies and hygiene items, too, go a long way toward the effort to help children in foster care. For babies and young children, diapers and pull-ups, formula and baby food is all greatly appreciated. As the holiday season comes into view, consider donating Christmas gifts.
With state and federal budgets always in danger of cuts, resources for recruitment efforts are elusive, which is why TFI Family Connections hopes our community steps in to spread the word and get involved. If you or someone you know might be interested in sharing a home, please contact the organization. Rachelle Roosevelt and the TFI staff provide a wealth of information about the application process and are ready to help guide potential foster parents and volunteers to the most effective path to supporting displaced children.
For more information, contact
Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.