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Foster care in spotlight

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Bartholomew County officials are hoping to establish at least 10 more foster homes through informational meetings planned Saturday.

Sixty-eight children are in foster care in Bartholomew County, and all of the county’s existing foster homes have children placed there, prompting the county’s Department of Child Services to begin recruiting.

Thirty-minute informational meetings for prospective foster parents will be offered at 10, 10:45 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Foundation for Youth, 405 Hope Ave.

Foster parents provide temporary supervision and stability for children removed from their homes by DCS for allegations of neglect, abuse or other circumstances.

DCS officials first turn to relatives when removing children from a home.

But when that placement cannot be made, DCS next seeks a foster care home, said Heather Angebrandt, director of the county’s DCS office.

Recruiting local residents to serve as foster parents is considered crucial to placing children close to their homes and their schools, to minimize interruptions to their routine.

“Our preference is always to have children in their own community and in their own school district,” Angebrandt said.

“When the child is with a local foster family, it makes spending time with their parents easier and can help them maintain essential connections. And when services are needed, it allows us to utilize local service providers.”

The foster parent program is a team approach, Angebrandt said.

DCS staff, Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers, school officials, and county and state officials work together to transition the child home, Angebrandt said. CASA volunteers are named to represent the children’s interests during court proceedings.

Foster parents are asked for preferences and what placements they will accept. For example, a two-earner couple may shy away from accepting an infant as a foster placement but may be comfortable with older children. One caveat potential foster parents need to know is that DCS often wants to place siblings together.

Teens and sibling groups have traditionally been the most difficult placements to make, Angebrandt said.

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