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Need Growing For Foster Parents In Southern Indiana
Updated December 23, 2014 7:47 AM
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(UNDATED) - There is a growing need for foster parents in Southern Indiana.

Foster care provides a nurturing and stable environment for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. It can be a rewarding experience for the foster parents themselves, too.

One local foster mom, Carrie Haggard, said her interest in fostering started years ago when she became close with foster kids at the daycare where she worked. Since then, Haggard and her husband, Jerry, have fostered two children in their home.

"We currently have one biological child, one adopted child, and one foster child," she said, noting that they're all boys.

The Haggards only take boys in their home as requested by Jacob, their twelve-year-old son. Jacob also wants to remain the "big brother" of the family and asked that his parents only take in younger children.

"We respect his requests," Haggard said.

Fostering children involves the entire family. She said the boys get along most days, playing with their Hot Wheels cars and video games, but they also wrestle and tattle-tale like typical brothers.

The Haggards have a large support group of relatives, friends, and members of their church family. Fostering is a big responsibility to undertake, and having an understanding support group to lean on for help or advice is necessary, Haggard emphasized. Some children in the system have challenging emotional or behavioral problems, and Haggard has reached out to others for advice in the past.

"They do often times from difficult environments, but when I look at the great number of foster kids that we have met and known in our lives," Haggard said, "there are very few that weren't resilient. They bounce right out of it with just the smallest amount of love."

The Haggards' "family flag" hangs in their home.

Sometimes fostering involves maintaining a close relationship with the child's biological parents, and the Haggards have invited their foster son's biological mom to come to church with them soon.

"We realized that fostering was an avenue that we could use to help minister to people in a very unique way," Haggard said.

Occasionally, some foster parents experience negativity or false assumptions from people in the community. Haggard said another foster mom she knows received a rude comment at the grocery store when using WIC vouchers, which were provided for her foster child.

"Some people have the inability to have compassion," Haggard said. She has dealt with insensitive comments from strangers and acquaintances herself.

It's never easy being a foster parent, but the rewards are endless.

"A lot of people say 'oh, you saved Bradyn', the boy we adopted--but he saved us," Haggard said, glancing at a picture of Bradyn in her living room. "A lot of the reward comes from just knowing that we've made a little bit of a difference in our little part of the world just by influencing their lives."

Ornaments the boys have made hang on the Haggards' Christmas tree.

"The goal is to place children with relatives first," said Samantha Freeman, a regional foster care supervisor. "When we can't find relatives, we want to place them in a foster home in their local community. We try to keep kids close so they can attend the same school."

Foster parents must be 21 or older and pass background checks. They will undergo ten hours of pre-service training, as well as First Aid and CPR. They must also participate in a home study process to ensure they are able to provide a safe, positive environment.

"They make it easy to get licensed," Haggard said.

To become a foster parent visit www.in.gov/dcs/2984.htm.



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