Raise hope, foster dreams

Last week, reporter Steve Schulwitz informed us that the 26th Circuit Court has already burned through much of the $275,000 Alpena County budgeted for the Child Care Fund, and officials expect they’ll need at least another $200,000 before the end of their fiscal year this fall.

There are many reasons for the unexpected uptick in cost, from poverty to addiction to crime, that cause kids to be removed from their homes and placed in state care.

But one important factor is the lack of foster homes, officials said. That is forcing the state to place many children in institutional care, often outside the county. Such placements are more expensive than foster homes in the county.

While there are many things we as a community and a state and a country should do to help address the root causes of children being removed from their homes for abuse or neglect or because they themselves commit crimes that make them state wards, one of the easiest and quickest things we can do to help the current budget woes in the county is for those of us who are able to become foster parents.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the foster care system statewide, you can become a foster parent in five steps, beginning with contacting a state foster care navigator who will help guide you through the process. There is also a training, licensing and home inspection process, but the state offers guidance along the way.

Meanwhile, you could be helping a young person in one of their greatest times of need, providing stability and a loving place to call home while their birth parents or legal guardians work through whatever brought them to the state’s attention.

And you could help the county with its budget in the process.

Visit michigan.gov/fostercare for more information.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)