“Every child deserves a family:” Becoming a foster parent in Michigan

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- As FOX 17 continues its Forever Home series, we’re answering questions viewers have had on getting involved with adoption.

There are so many benefits to becoming a foster parent and so many children who need foster homes, so we sat down with an expert to learn the ins and outs of the process.

“Because of the lack of homes available, there is overcrowding, there is a lot of children who are being moved more than should be because there’s not enough places for them to be,” Foster care navigator Lynette Gill said.

The numbers will make your heart sink; there are 12,800 children in the Michigan Foster System.

There are not enough families for 75 percent of those children ages 13 to 18, so they live in residential placements with staff.

“The biggest thing you have to have is the dedication; foster care is, we say, it’s not just hard work, it's heart work.”

As a foster care navigator, Gill’s job is to help potential and current foster parents through the licensing process and anything else they may need.

“You do have to be at least 18 years old,” She said. “You have to have a place to live, you don't have to own your home, you can rent your home, but you do have to have requirements for bedroom sizes, there are trainings that you have to go through.”

It’s work that Gill has personal experience with.

“I was a foster child and I have a wonderful family that adopted,” she said. “My husband and I decided since we can no longer have children that we were going to foster and we were going to try to be that special family for the kids coming into care just as my parents were for me.”

The now adoptive and foster mother says there are resources for short or long term foster parents, including school transportation, furniture, clothes and funding.

“We are in definite need of foster homes that are willing to do the transition with a child for a forever home,” Gill said. “We have many children also coming into care that are in need of shorter term, maybe two months, six months, nine months while the biological parents are able to get the support that they need.”

If you’re interested in adoption, foster care is one way to begin that process.

“These children are going to come to you with broken hearts and they’re going to need people who are going to help get them on a routine, be able to stabilize and be there for them, that is the biggest thing in foster care is to know that you have a support group that is going to be there for you unconditionally,” Gill said.

Licensed foster parents usually begin welcoming one to three children into their homes but can have up to eight foster, adoptive and biological children in their homes at one time.

“Every child deserves a family, every child deserves a chance and even if they’re only with us for a month or two months or a week, we know that we can make a difference with them,” Gill said.

You can visit the Foster Care Navigator website for more information on becoming a foster parent.

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5 comments

  • Deanna Kloostra

    I have talked to parent after parent, aunts, cousins, you name it who have a child in foster care. They are willina and able to adopt their family members, but CPS does some shady things. Just last week a grandmother told me what she went through to keep her bran new grand baby right after birth. CPS has no clue what they are doing and that is why they are in so much trouble and congress is calling for an investigatioin. If only our reporters were investigative reporters, everyone would already be aware, but our reporters are about happy news.

  • Sands

    I was taken from my family because of physical abuses. I was raised but the state of Michigan, in many many homes and residentials. I never did get a forever family, and life has been very difficult with continued hostility from my birth mom and siblings throughout my adult life as well. Help these children from your heart…it is not there fault, like I was made to feel. Many homes I felt like a piece of the furniture, unloved and uncared for. Do it from the heart and make a life long commitment to a child or a few. You will be rewarded!

  • firstgranny

    Foster Care: Where Precious Children Go To Die
    http://youtu.be/AMJJ4oCSMoU

    Visit  http://youtu.be/P8PtKfS3Efo  and view some of the hundreds of children who lost their lives in the Child Protective Service/Family Court system.
    Across America the push is on to find more foster care homes for children who have been removed from their family.
    But there are questions that should be asked regarding foster care. Why do we need more foster homes? Why have children been removed? Do people bother to investigate a child’s case before agreeing to foster that child? Do those who have a desire to foster truly understand what foster caring is all about? Do they desire to help a child or are they only desirous of the income received from fostering a child? After all, many children die at the hands of their foster caregiver. These questions are important, in this article we will be concerned with why any child would need a foster home.
    There are countless articles that address these questions. There are countless videos that address the questions. There are countless organizations that advocate for children removed from families. There are not countless people taking interest in why a child is removed from a family. Most of this information addressing the crisis of child removal is addressing how in this nation, its states or its counties, could there possibly be a need to remove so many children.
    There may be reasons most people are unaware of regarding child removals. In the 70’s the “Child Abuse and Prevention Act” was adopted in Congress. In the 90’s the “Adoption and Safe Families Act” was adopted. Therefore, most people believe that Child Protective Service (CPS) is providing a necessary service. To a degree that is true, but to a larger degree that is untrue. These acts provided for much federal funding being made available to Child Protective Service and their contracted agencies. Former Vice President Walter Mondale stated that he could see the Child Abuse and Prevention Act making it possible for the states to make a business out of child removals. That is exactly what has taken place across America.                     
    It is important to address this crisis of child removals right here in our own backyard of Kent County. Even now the Kent County agencies such as D.A. Blodgett, Bethany Christian Service, Lutheran Social Service, Holy Cross Childrens Service and Catholic Charities are all agencies involved in child removals. Most people believe these agencies are just adoption agencies and are separate from Child Protective Service. However they are agencies contracted by CPS. Our Kent County Board of Commission is involved in Project 515 http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/201310/Project_515_-_Kent_County_Foster_Care_Purchase_of_Services_Project_Plan__Final_9-30-13.pdf which privatizes these agencies in the workings of Child Protective Service. This leads to control of child removals by the agencies.
    An Article by Richard Wexler, Executive Director (retired) of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (www.nccpr.org), regarding child welfare finance, titled “You Get What You Pay For” at http://www.nccpr.org/reports/finance.pdf is very eye opening. Reading on page 10 at page end and continuing through to page 12 is stated the following: ……..the net work of private agencies that needs a steady supply of foster children to stay in business, and their allies, will continue with business as usual. These agencies often have blue chip boards of directors, larded with the business, civic and religious elite of their communities. They will make sure that the pressure remains on to take away at least as many children as before.
    Is it possible that these agencies are creating the need for foster homes by continually removing children from families unnecessarily? If we are to believe this, then we must consider why this is being done since parents are seldom if ever convicted of any crime against their children.
    In Kent County we have seven judges hearing CPS/Family Court cases. Are there really so many children being abused and neglected in Kent County to require a need for seven judges hearing child removal cases every day in Kent County?
    Could it be true that agencies and our courts wrongfully remove children for federal funding? Are they making a case, where there is no need, just to remove a child? It is stated that over 25 professions deal with child removals. These professions must have paychecks and the money for those paychecks must come from somewhere. http://youtu.be/ztEqMounuRU
    The agencies have boards of directors which control them. They are mostly philanthropic people who are very knowledgeable in the workings of these agencies. An agency such as D.A. Blodgett proudly places the names of their directors on their website www.dablodgett.org under the heading of “Who We Are”. Perhaps you may know some of these directors.
    Many families state that their children were removed wrongfully and therefore were legally kidnapped, such as this example of a D.A. Blodgett case: http://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/a-grandma-desperate-to-adopt-her-grandson-fought-the-state-and-lost
    Citizens for Parental Rights is aware of many such cases wrongfully handled by D.A. Blodgett in Kent County.
    Nationwide over 80% of children are wrongly removed for the federal funding to states, which annually is many billions of dollars. Will Gaston, founder of “A Voice for Children” with his wife Pam wrote a book titled “Sui Juris”. The last statement on page 16 speaks to the massive numbers of children kidnapped by the states in this nation. http://familyrights.us/bin/sui_juris/http://familyrights.us/bin/sui_juris/
    If people do not rise up and stop this atrocity, we can expect untold numbers of children leaving their families. Thinking not yours? Think again! Many people who thought that way wish now they had thought differently. Joining Citizens for Parental Rights in Kent County is always an option to help change what is taking place with our children. If you do nothing then expect nothing, except maybe a knock at your door by CPS.
    Citizens for Parental Rights: falseallegations@mail.com
    “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing” ~ Albert Einstein

  • Lee Anne Ritzema

    First off. I want to have another child but my fiance hasn’t got me pregnant in fivebyears. Ive been longing to help kids. When I hear of children being abused or hurt it irks me. I want to help families be reunited and work together to get their children back but if not I want to adopt additional children whether siblings or not. I would like a chance. Alot of us don’t know about the incentives just have a heart and because some of you are thinking negatively before even considering all the facts its no wonder I’m the type of person needed for the job. I’d do it without being paid why??? Because God put me on the earth to protect and encourage and grow. Put your opinions aside and start thinking with your hearts. Be in my position once. My kids are turning 11&8. We always talked about helping but don’t think my place is big enough. Sad really…