Red Mountain Family Service’s Pat Martin, Kathy McConnell and Susan Childers serve as mentors for new foster families, helping support their efforts to care for a child in need.
Foster parents are year-round valentines
—Red Mountain Family Services, Inc.
When you remember the Valentine’s Days celebrated in your childhood, you may have very different memories than those of some New Mexico children today—those who must be removed from their family home and placed into foster care.
During this month, when love and friendship is especially celebrated, Red Mountain Family Services, Inc. is spreading the word about the need for more foster parents across the state, as well as the benefits of becoming a treatment foster parent.
“This is a hard job, but for many foster parents, it becomes a very rewarding job,” said Cindy Clark-Thompson, executive director for Red Mountain Family Services (RMFS), a non-profit that serves at-risk children across Sandoval County and other areas of New Mexico. “We are always looking for additional homes that are suitable to care for our kids, most of whom are between age 4 and 18 and many with special needs.”
Many of the RMFS homes are treatment foster homes, where the foster child is receiving care for their mental health needs in a family setting. While living in the treatment foster home, the RMFS staff works diligently with each child and their family members. At least fifty percent of the children and young people that Red Mountain Family Services, Inc. serve will return home to their families. Some children are later adopted by their foster families.
“Some potential foster parents come to us because they feel called to help children. They may see a news story about neglected or abused children, and they know they have the means to help,” said Clark-Thompson. “Other families enter our program because of the financial stipend they receive to care for the foster child. In either case, we have very strict screening standards for foster parents accepted into our program, and a number of tools to help them succeed with their foster child.”
Approximately one-in-fifteen families that apply meet the qualifications to become RMFS foster parents. “After the initial phone screening, the next steps are evaluations, home visits, and background checks. This is followed by extensive training and interviews with our staff. It’s not an easy job, but we know that by finding good foster families, we provide great results for these kids in need.”
Successful foster homes have a structured routine, are willing to follow the non-profit’s guidelines, are able to work with the child’s family, and are able to correctly complete written documentation such as care notes and medication forms. In addition, one adult in the family must be a stay-at-home parent, in order to have needed supervision of the foster child and be able to meet that child’s therapy appointments.
“Having the tax-free monthly stipend provides financial support so that many people who would make very good foster parents then have the ability to stay home and provide those duties. Because many foster homes already have birth children, it often means the parent is able to better support their own children, as well as their foster child,” said Clark-Thompson. “In February, as everyone’s thinking about love and being a valentine to those they care for, we hope they’ll also consider opening their heart and home to a child that they don’t even know yet.”
For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit www.redmountainfamilyservices.org or call 505-994-0364, extension 12, or visit us on Facebook at “Red Mountain Family Services.”