A rapid response by generous supporters has doubled a $69,000 challenge grant for Circle of Care (COC) to recruit and train foster parents in four more parts of Oklahoma.
The recruiters already are at work in Shawnee and Stillwater. Plans are being finalized in Ardmore and Weatherford.
The collective result will be at least 72 more foster homes serving approximately 144 Oklahoma children, within one year, according to Circle of Care leaders.
Funds to match the grant were raised less than three months after the challenge was issued. It was announced Sept. 19 in the Contact.
With approximately 12,000 children in the state’s foster care system, the need for more foster families is crucial.
When a child is abused or neglected and assigned to state custody, the child is placed in a foster home if one is available. If not, then children live in county shelters until space opens in foster homes or they are reunified with their families.
Circle of Care has developed a plan to increase the number of foster homes available for children in crisis situations and also make use of the agency’s contract with the State of Oklahoma. ChildSHARE is the COC program that especially assists foster families, mainly in major metropolitan areas.
A benefactor urged Circle of Care to add recruiters in other parts of the state, where ChildSHARE does not operate, and pledged matching financial support to raise $138,000 total. That amount will extend COC’s vision to four more communities.
With funding secured, a new staff member will work within a 50-mile radius of each community.
The recruiter-trainers will maintain offices in local United Methodist churches. Partnerships have been established with Stillwater-First, Ardmore-First, Weatherford-First, and Shawnee-St. Paul’s.
Three of the specialists already are at work: Patricia Collar in Shawnee, Julie Miller in Stillwater, and Heather Doherty in Ardmore.
In recognition of his generous support, Circle of Care nominated Paul Milburn for a Social Service Award through OK CARE, an association of residential child/youth service agencies. He was named an award winner at OK CARE’s November meeting.
If you live in or near one of these four expansion areas and want to learn more about being a foster parent, you are invited to call Child SHARE’s toll-free number: 866-978-2956.
See related story: Recruiter motivated to find homes
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