Need is great for foster homes for teenagers

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Berrien County is seeking help from its residents.
Right now the county's family division is experiencing a great need for foster homes for teenagers. Many of these youth spend an extended period of time in the juvenile detention center while they await placement.
Some of the teens are even sent out of the county because of the lack of placements within the community.
The family division has a unique foster care program with serves youth between the ages of 11-17. These kids are involved in the court system and have a lack of adequate care and supervision in their own homes.
In order to get the word out there about this program and its need the Family Division of the Berrien County Trial Court will be holding an informational meeting about what members of the county have to do to become foster parents for these children.
The meeting is being held on Wednesday, April 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Niles.
At the meeting residents who are interested will learn what the program entails, as well as what they would have to do to become a registered foster parent.
Hartman added that the parents receive training throughout their time as a foster parent, so that they can better care for the children. There are all foster parent support group meetings which meet every third Thursday of the month.
People who are interested in doing this should like teenage children and have had some experience with them, as they will have to give up much of their time and devote it to the child or children.
It is also good to be open minded, so that the best in the child can be brought out.
The teens are typically in the home for about a year.
Brock and Hartman both stressed the fact that these young people really need to be in an environment where they feel safe and nurtured, and that is free of physical and emotional abuse.
They also need to be respected as having worth and dignity even though they many not have had the best behavior in the past.
For any information, or if you would like to become involved with this program but can't attend the meeting, call Brock at (269) 983-7111 ext. 8355.