Fostering – Do you have what it takes?

Published 5:19 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

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An Editorial Opinion of The Lowndes Signal

May was National Foster Care Month. To highlight the emphasis, Greenville Newspapers, Inc. reporters highlighted the stories of foster families in Lowndes, Butler, and Crenshaw counties in order to give communities a glimpse into the rewards and challenges of fostering a child and raise awareness of the need for more foster families.

A Lowndes County couple, James and Melissa Shaffer, are empty-nesters preparing to become foster parents to three local siblings – two boys and their sister. The couple realized their home was far too quiet once their own children were grown and gone and wanted to pour out their blessings on children in need of a home, so the children could remain in Lowndes County, close to the people and places already invested in their lives.

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Greenville resident Tammie Rice is a military veteran, entrepreneur, and busy single parent who shows children every day what a loving home can look like with a working mom and foster children. She finds joy in giving back by making a home for children whose greatest need is love and safety.

Ramer resident Casey Cothran became a foster parent, knowing she had room in her heart and home to love children. She didn’t want to wait for marriage to make a family and since then she has fostered 13 Crenshaw County children and adopted four siblings from among her foster children.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) reports more than 5,700 Alabama children in the foster care system. Currently, there are only just over 2,360 foster homes.

Nearly every Alabama county has more children in foster care than it can house locally. That means children may sometimes live hundreds of miles away from the communities they called home, before circumstances changed and they entered the foster care system.

According to District Judge Adrian Johnson, keeping children close to their extended community network is a vital part of the path to healing the trauma many of them have faced.

Counties like Butler, Lowndes, and Crenshaw are in desperate need of individuals and families willing to become foster parents.

Foster families can be made up of a single mom, a single dad, or a mom and dad, any combination willing to do what is needed most – to love a child and keep them safe.

That’s all it takes: love them, care for them, and keep them safe. Agencies like DHR will provide training and resources to help with everything else.

Persons with an open heart and an open home who are considering becoming a foster parent can learn more by visiting or calling their local DHR office.