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MARQUETTE– Everyone has a different idea of what family is, but to a foster child, that meaning can change constantly and instantly. May is National Foster Care Month and in the Upper Peninsula, the need for foster parents is in high demand.
Rick Sanville, CEO of Upper Peninsula Family Solutions says, “There’s always a need for foster parents and here’s why, because as children get adopted by their foster parents, you are essentially losing a foster home.”
The need in the state of Michigan is so great that agencies downstate are seeking help from the U.P.
Sara Miller, child welfare supervisor for Child and Family Services of the U.P. says, “We get calls daily, we get e-mails daily from different counties below the bridge looking for placement for children.”
Physical and emotional abuse as well as neglect are triggers to children being placed in foster care. The underlying cause of it in most cases is drug or alcohol addiction.
Sanville says, “The main driver of all of this though is substance abuse or addiction. In most of the time what we look at of what’s the driver of kids coming into foster care, it’s addiction.”
One of the goals of pairing children with foster parents is to keep siblings together and oftentimes it is hard to find parents who will take in all of the siblings.
Tanzi Wernholm, a foster parent says, “A lot of times when kids come into foster care they don’t come in by themselves. They come in with several siblings. Sometimes it’s just two, sometimes it’s four or six and there aren’t enough foster homes that can take in that many kids at time.”
Both Upper Peninsula Family Solutions and Child and Family Services of the U.P. say that even if you’re slightly interested in being a foster parent to look into it.
Jackie Judd, a foster parent says, “I just wish you know, there’s a lot of people that say I’d really like to do it and I’ve thought about it a lot, I think my advice is to just try it.”