Circle of Care-Agency launches effort to secure ethnic foster homes

9/18/2015

To recruit Hispanic foster parents in Oklahoma, the United Methodist Circle of Care (COC) has begun a partnership with the Office of Mission’s Hispanic/Latino Ministries.

They are responding to a critical need.

In the state, 1,900 Hispanic children need foster care. Child experts say stable, loving Hispanic foster homes for these children are essential to maintain cultural customs in the absence of biological parents.

But only 130 Hispanic foster homes have been approved by the state to receive children.

A COC Hispanic family specialist, Isabel Arango, is leading the new collaboration, along with Carlos Ramirez and Jeremy Bassett in the Conference Office of Mission.

A recent graduate of Oklahoma City University, Arango is originally from Colombia. Her bilingual language skills and cultural background facilitate her work. She is well versed in the processes and needs for all foster care here in Oklahoma.

The state’s emergency shortage of foster homes has been well documented.

For too many neglected or abused children, there is no family member nearby who can comfort and care for them when they enter state custody. When such a kinship placement isn’t available, a child is placed in a foster home. But if there is no foster home with an opening, the child is housed at an emergency group shelter.

Circle of Care wants to prevent children from languishing in large group shelters.

Aligning with strategic groups such as UM Hispanic/Latino Ministries and opening new recruiting offices across Oklahoma are helping COC address the urgent need for foster homes. Regional recruiters are at work in seven cities in addition to Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Expanding in these ways will make possible more good outcomes like that experienced by the Murray Crookes family.

Rev. Crookes, pastor of North Oklahoma City UM Native American Fellowship, and his wife, Chivi, are kinship foster care parents through the state Department of Human Services. Murray is Native American, and Chivi is Hispanic.

They speak both English and Spanish. The family now is connected with COC because of the agency’s new alliance with Hispanic/Latino Ministries.

Speaking in Spanish, Arango reached out to the Crookses. Now they know they can access the COC support programs offered to foster parents all over Oklahoma. That help ranges from clothes and school supplies through the agency’s ChildShare co-ops to holiday group parties and even respite care.

The Crookses are providing a safe and loving home for relatives’ children who are officially in their care until the kids are reunited with their biological parents, adopted, or exit the DHS system through other avenues.

For those children, the sorrow of being separated from their parents is blunted by the calm constancy of other family members who care for them.

Another plus is that the children are with people who share their Native American heritage.

Arango already has aided other kinship foster families in accessing COC’s support services.

If you or anyone you know, whether English- or Spanish-speaking, is able to provide a loving foster home in Oklahoma, COC is eager to answer your questions. Call Arango at 405-312-6640.

 

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Isabel Arango
 

While caregivers select children’s clothing and school supplies, girls play together at one of five co-ops operated by the Circle of Care (COC) for foster families across Oklahoma. Circle of Care representatives are reaching out in nine cities to recruit and resource foster parents, to meet the pressing need for more foster homes in the state.


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