Koinonia Family Services in Loomis receives more than 130 foster placements a year for children in emergency situations.
“With the passing of new legislation, we are seeing more and more children displaced from their previous shelters,” said Koinonia Family Services district administrator Bill Richardson.
California Assembly Bill-403, passed in January 2017, requires that all county run shelters close.
“This is why we get so many calls now,” Richardson said.
“Kids have to either change schools or drive long distances each day to stay in their school of origin due to the fact that there are simply not enough homes near where the kids go to school now,” Richardson said. “We need the community to help by sponsoring a foster child and becoming a new resource parent.”
It takes about six months to become a foster parent, also called a resource parent.
“It's a long list of forms and training,” Richardson said, and includes a home inspection, 18 hours of training, fingerprint clearances, background checks and a home study by a social worker.
“We could use at least 20 more families willing to do emergency care right here in the Loomis and Lincoln area,” Richardson said. “It helps if they are open to adoption.”
Foster parent Rachel Ogden from Loomis talked about the rewards of becoming a foster parent.
“We have built so many relationships with kids who have been in our home,” Ogden said. “Being able to love a child who needs it is just naturally rewarding.”
Ogden has been a foster parent for nearly two years.
“We have had about seven children in our home in the last year,” Ogden said.
But Ogden, and her husband, Dean, also had some hardships becoming foster parents.
“Before we started foster care, I was afraid of losing the attachment we had built with a child. I was fearful of the drama I thought would occur with birth parents and family. I was surprised to see that family and friends of the child were so supportive and grateful,” Ogden said. “I know this won’t always be the case and it can be difficult at times but it helped us to be more engaged and open. However, we quickly realized that our perspectives changed. Once we had a child in our home, our priorities shifted. Our focus and heart became about doing whatever was best for the child.”
New foster parent Kim Darke from Roseville also had some challenges about caring for the children.
“We feared that we wouldn't have the skill set to be able to care for the emotional needs of the kids who entered our home,” Darke said. “It has surprised us how easy it has been to connect with all of the children who have been placed in our care and how quickly we have been able to bond with each of them.”
Darke and her family enjoy opening their homes to foster children.
“We have had opportunities to connect with our foster kids' biological parents and support and encourage them,” Darke said. “I have grown personally in that I am more gracious toward people, realizing that we don't know everyone's story and that each of us has our own struggles we are trying to overcome.”
Foster parent Stephanie Collins of Lincoln had a message for residents.
“I want the community to know not just about foster care, but about Koinonia specifically,” Collins said. “My foster teens that have been placed with other agencies feel that Koinonia is, hands down, the most caring and organized.”
For more information about helping Koinonia Family Services, see pfparent.kfh.org or call 916-652-5814, extension 1100.