BOSTON The Department of Children and Families (DCF) today launched the Foster Massachusetts (Foster MA) campaign to support efforts to build a larger, more diverse community of foster parents. The campaign will promote foster care awareness via traditional and social media, and is part of ongoing reforms initiated by the Baker-Polito Administration and DCF to address numerous factors, including substance use disorders and family instability, that cause an increase in the need for foster care.
Foster families play a critical role in providing a loving home for our state’s most vulnerable children, said Governor Charlie Baker. We are pleased to kick off this campaign to build on the Department’s recent efforts to recruit more families in every corner of the Commonwealth who are willing to provide a safe and stable place.
There are so many opportunities for foster parents, said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. We have foster parents who love babies and foster parents who want to help teen-agers finish high school and plan for the future. Some foster parents care for children long-term while others provide care in emergencies. What they all have in common is their willingness to open their hearts and homes for a short or extended period. We need to make the perfect match for children.
Approximately 7,500 children in Massachusetts live with foster families. In addition to traditional foster homes, there are opportunities to provide short-term care to children who are taken into custody after hours or on weekends or holidays. In these emergency placements, children stay in the home until the next business day when DCF workers are able to secure longer term arrangements. There is also a need for respite families who care for children for one or more nights when foster parents go out of town or attend to their own family matters.
The simple acts of tying shoes, wiping away tears, helping fill out summer job applications and cheering from the sidelines of a soccer game are deeply meaningful to children going through a trying time, said DCF Commissioner Linda S. Spears. We are incredibly grateful to our current foster parents for showing children there is hope and opportunity ahead and we are looking forward to growing our community of foster parents.
The campaign follows the hiring of 15 full-time foster care recruiters, which has increased the Department’s ability to recruit prospective foster parents and assist with the application process. Since January, DCF has opened 117 new foster homes. A new Facebook page, Foster MA – Massachusetts DCF, will be updated frequently with information about upcoming recruitment events and resources for current and prospective foster parents.
There are children in our local community in immediate need of safe, welcoming, and affirming homes and I know that I can provide that and more, said Kate Audette, a newly recruited foster parent who recently completed the 30 hours of specialized training needed to become licensed. Early into the recruitment process I spoke at length with social workers about the types of placements that would work in my home and with my demanding work schedule at Boston Children’s Hospital. For my first year as a foster parent, I plan to provide short-term emergency and respite care for children ages two and under. While I know that my time with each child may be short, my hope is that it will leave a positive lasting impact.
Massachusetts foster parent community is diverse and inclusive. Foster parents are single, married, partnered and widowed. Some have their own children or provide in-home day care. Both home owners and renters can be foster parents. Multilingual households are always needed in urban, suburban and rural communities.
To learn more about foster parenting in Massachusetts call 1-800-KIDS-508 or visit the Massachusetts DCF website. To download all materials for the Foster Massachusetts (Foster MA) campaign, please click here.
About the Department of Children and Families:
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the Commonwealth’s child welfare agency, serving approximately 47,000 children. DCF strives to protect children from abuse and neglect and, in partnership with families and communities, ensure children are able to grow and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. Under the Baker-Polito administration, the Department is engaged in an intensive system-wide reform effort to restructure the agency and develop new policies and practices with the primary goal of keeping children safe.
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