By: Christopher Davis | Category: Other | Issue: May 2014
Choices for Life staff (L to R): (top row) Cynthia Stubblefield, Paul Smith, Brittany Jackson, (bottom row) Sandra Bell, Beverly Litterell, and Harold Thompson. (Not pictured: Tamika Lipsey.)
May is National Foster Care Month and, recently, a group of foster parents were treated to an appreciation dinner by Choices for Life in Sapulpa.
“We arranged for childcare and activities for the children,” says Harold Thompson, clinical supervisor at Choices for Life. With the children safely supervised and entertained, the adults were able to enjoy a rare evening out at a nearby restaurant. It was a welcome chance for parents to share stories and receive recognition for the sacred work they do on behalf of their foster children. “These therapeutic foster parents are really special – they are a rare breed,” says Thompson. If anyone has earned a night out, it is the foster parents of Choices for Life.
Choices for Life is an agency that coordinates therapeutic foster care for children who need a strong degree of support. Working with DHS, the agency facilitates the matching of children in traumatic situations with foster parents who are willing to meet the challenges inherent in providing a loving and nurturing home environment. The organization recruits and trains therapeutic foster parents.
Most of the cases taken on by CFL involve households where abuse or drugs have severely affected the lives of children. Some of the biological parents may face jail time. These are situations for which there are no easy solutions, and many in the community turn a blind eye or simply walk away. Choices for Life is constantly seeking applicants who are willing to help a child learn how to live a life that approaches normalcy.
Over the course of the application process, potential foster parents undergo a DMV and background check. An income study and home assessment are also part of the journey toward fostering.
For those who are selected and matched with a child, CFL provides a mosaic of support services to ensure the best care. In addition to support and counseling, CFL also assists with legal and education issues. Many students require modified curriculum, and the agency helps with meetings and individualized educational plans (IEPs).
The organization visits each home weekly and offers 24-hour services for counseling. Each parent commits to 18 hours of training per year, which CFL helps coordinate. For cases in which it is in the interest of the child to meet with biological parents, CFL serves as a liaison in the process. Every step of the way, Choices for Life has professional staff to provide support and guidance.
When officially declaring May National Foster Care Month, President Obama said, “To give foster youth the support they need, Americans in every community are stepping up to serve. They are mentors, teachers, faith leaders, caseworkers, advocates, family members – individuals dedicated to making a difference.” Choices for Life is on the front lines of such an effort.
In honor of National Foster Care Month, Choices for Life encourages everyone to recognize the sacrifices and hard work of foster parents everywhere. Parenting is not easy. Making the decision to bring a child into one’s home, knowing there will be significant challenges to overcome that most parents and children never deal with, is admirable. If you know a foster parent, thank them for the work they do to brighten the life of a child and the positive impact it has on the community. If you have time or resources to contribute, please do so. There are never enough foster homes for the children in need of therapeutic care. The demand is especially great for teens.
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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.