Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Feb. 25, 2004

Foster and Adoptive Parents Needed in Oswego County

There are over 140 children from Oswego County in foster care. About half of the children live with families in local foster boarding homes. Other children reside in congregate care (residential) settings outside of Oswego County, making it more difficult to maintain frequent contact with their birth families. Some of these youth could reside with a local foster family if there were space available. More foster families are needed, particularly for youth age 12 and over in the Central Square, Fulton, Hannibal, and Oswego areas.

According to Commissioner of Social Services Frances Lanigan, foster care is designed to be temporary. Most children are in foster care for less than one year. All children who enter foster care require the approval of Family Court and are in the care and custody of the Commissioner of Social Services. Children come into foster care due to abuse and neglect, being a person in need of supervision (PINS) or juvenile delinquent whose needs cannot be met at home with their family. Occasionally, children are placed in foster care through voluntary placement by a family when parents temporarily cannot care for their child due to accident or illness.

All children deserve a permanent living arrangement and the Oswego County Department of Social Services (DSS) works to develop permanency for children in foster care. The first consideration is to make a diligent effort to reunite the child with his or her birth family. Foster parents work in partnership with other human service professionals and are an integral part of the team that works to bring families back together.

When children cannot return to their birth family, other options are considered such as living with relatives, becoming part of a new family through adoption, or preparing a child for independent living.

"A foster parent works closely with the child and their biological parents. You play many different roles, including mentor, friend, and confidant. It's challenging, but you come out a better person. DSS provides a great support system to help you be successful," said Christina Moses, vice president of the Foster/Adoptive Parent Association of Oswego County.

Some children who cannot return to their birth family are freed for adoption if the parent surrenders the child or Family Court terminates the rights of the parents. DSS must file a petition to terminate parental rights when a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months, unless there is a compelling reason why this would not be in the best interest of the child.

All children that are waiting to be adopted in permanent homes through the county DSS have been in foster care for a period of time. The children are typically age eight and older and may have special needs.

For people who are considering foster or adoptive parenting, an informational meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 10 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Social Services office, Spring Street, Mexico. Attendance at an informational meeting is essential in order to enroll in the "Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting - Group Selection Process" (MAPP) pre-certification classes.

The MAPP training program helps families to develop 12 skills that research and experience have demonstrated are important for successful foster/adoptive parenting. Through the provision of information in an interactive learning style that typically appeals to adults, families will be able to make an informed decision as to whether foster and/or adoptive parenting is right for them. Topics covered in the training include simulations of foster and adoptive experiences, helping children with losses and attachments, helping children to manage their behavior, and helping children leave foster care.

The 10-week pre-certification training program will be held Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., March 24 to May 26. Both parents in a two-parent household need to attend the training. Single as well as two-parent families may apply to become adoptive or foster parents.

For more information, contact Nancy Clark at 598-4642, ext. 46, Carol Vincent at 963-5534, Jean Edley at 963-5373, or e-mail jean@oswegocounty.com.

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