Foster parents are urgently needed for children taken into foster care in the Cookeville area, according to Youth Villages, a private nonprofit organization that provides foster care and other services for children and families. They say children are placed into foster care when they can no longer safely live with their biological families because of abuse, neglect or other serious family issues. Youth Villages, which provides foster care services through a contract with the state of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services, aims to place children in foster homes in the children’s home school district or as close to home as possible to prevent children from experiencing further disruptions.
“We need many more foster parents who truly want to make a difference in a child’s life,” said Tina Dishman, regional foster care recruiter for Youth Villages. “There is a tremendous need for caring, nurturing foster families who are ready to open their hearts and homes to a child or sibling group in need of a home.”
The organization needs a minimum of 25 foster homes in the Cookeville area to avoid turning away children in need of a home and to be able to provide every child in the organization’s foster care program with caring foster families who will be the best match for the child.
“We have two families going through our training classes right now,” Dishman said. “But at the same time, we sometimes lose foster families because they either decide to adopt their foster child or move out of state for a job, or stop fostering due to health issues, for example. That’s why we always need foster families – and that’s why the need is so great right now.”
Youth Villages is looking for single adults, married couples and families in the wider Cookeville area, including Putnam, Dekalb, White, Cannon, Warren, Smith, Van Buren, Fentress, Pickett, Clay, Macon, Overton and Jackson counties. Youth Villages provides free training to foster parents, 24-hour support and monthly reimbursements to help offset the costs of adding a child to the household. Adoptions through Youth Villages are free, and foster parents typically have the first right to adopt if a child has lived with them for at least six months. Children become available for adoption when there is no viable member of the child’s birth family who can care for the child.
To learn more about becoming a Youth Villages foster parent, you may attend a free information session or foster parent training. Information sessions are set for Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 5 pm, Monday, Oct. 4 at 5 pm; Thursday, Oct. 7 at noon; Wednesday, Oct. 13 at noon; Monday, Oct. 18at 5 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 21 at noon; and Wednesday, Oct. 27 at noon. Foster parent training starts on Saturday, Oct. 9. Information and training sessions will be held at the Youth Villages office at 1420 Neal St., Suite 202 in Cookeville. To register for an information session or training, or to inquire about becoming a foster parent, call Kristi Olson, foster parent recruiter, at (931) 525-6905.
Children referred to Youth Villages for foster care typically have been abused or neglected and may have emotional or behavioral issues, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other issues, coupled with learning disabilities, ADHD, trouble managing their anger and frustration, and trouble sleeping at night, among others. The group says these children need caring families and a stable home where they will feel loved, can heal and thrive.