FOSTERING HOPE — In Woodward, the Circle of Care opens its newest regional foster care service center. Almost 60 people attended ceremonies Jan. 10, including the school superintendent and members of the Chamber of Commerce and Woodward-First UMC. From left at front are: Tiffany Johnson, Raquel Razien, Sarah Steffes, and President Don Batson, all with Circle of Care; at far right is Senior Pastor Shannon Davis of First UMC.
BY CHRIS SCHUTZ
One of Raquel Razien’s favorite childhood memories is of her time with Kami, a foster-care teenager who lived with Raquel’s family.
"It was like having an older sister. Getting to experience having an older sister was a lot of fun for me," said Razien, the family specialist who operates the United Methodist Circle of Care’s new foster care center in Woodward.
Razien grew up to get a bachelor’s in social work from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and a master’s in that field from the University of Oklahoma. She is following in the footsteps of her mother, who is a social worker.
Foster care is "something that I really care about," Razien said. Her mother is "over the moon" that her daughter joined her in the field.
The Woodward center is one of six that Circle of Care operates in Oklahoma. The others are in Lawton, Ardmore, Ponca City, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa.
Circle of Care’s mission is providing Christian help, healing, and hope to children and families in crisis to ensure safe, healthy, and spiritual futures. Local-church Apportionments help make the work possible.
The Woodward office, which held its open house Jan. 10, started "completely from scratch," Razien said.
She speaks at churches in the region about the need for foster care homes. In the northwest quarter of the state, she notes, there are about 2,000 children in "out-of-home" care, which includes shelters, group homes, and foster care.
Circle of Care strives to find placements near a familiar area for the child.
The agency’s efforts already are starting to pay off, Razien said. Four families in the region are going through the process of becoming certified foster families. To do that, they have to complete 27 hours of training, she said.
Sometimes families are "on the fence" about fostering, Razien said. Potential families may hear about fostering seven times before committing to open their homes, according to information she has.
Recruiting is a major part of her job. She also is responsible for maintaining and supporting the families she recruits.
Since starting work, Razien has been "in awe" of the community support from the Woodward and Weatherford areas.
In addition to funds, churches have boosted Circle of Care’s mission by gathering supplies to donate to foster parents. Razien senses a spiritual connection in the churches’ willingness to get that started.
Her own youthful experiences with Kami and other foster children who stayed with her family "really influenced me to try to find a way to have an impact," Razien said.
At first, her parents were "pretty watchful" because Kami had once been active in a gang, she recalled. But Kami turned out to be "very protective" of Raquel and her sister.
Razien regrets that her family was unable to find out what became of Kami after she became an adult and left the foster care system.
For more information on Circle of Care’s foster care services in northwest Oklahoma, contact Razien by email at email@example.com or by phone at 405-312-6640.
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