BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Year round, workers at Child and Family Services in Buffalo are working toward a happy ending for children in need. May 4th is National Foster Care Day, a day to raise awareness about these children and help foster care agencies meet their goal.
"Our main goal is to work with children and their birth parents to achieve unification," said Nicholas Largo, Program Director of Foster Care and Adoption at C&FS.
Throughout the pandemic they've been working with families virtually to prepare them to get their children back.
"Helping the family in their community, helping the family gain parenting skills, linking the family to different service providers," said Largo.
During that process, the children are placed in foster care. As of 2019, there were more than 400,000 kids in foster care in the US, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services.
In Erie County, there were 790 children in Foster Care in 2019, according to the Office of Children & Family Services. Child & Family Services on Delaware Ave served 85 children in Foster Care in 2020.
These are children who've been through a lot.
"Children coming into care have experienced various different kinds of trauma whether its abuse or neglect, being removed from their families home, being removed fro their community, so they come into care with all sorts of different needs and traumas," said Largo.
Which is why it’s crucial to have foster parents here in WNY who can support them. Child and Family Services are always looking for people to apply, especially this month.
"To be a foster parent, there’s a training process, they would start the application process, complete necessary paperwork and background checks and they have to attend a 9-10 week training," said Largo.
In that training, they teach you everything you need to know about caring for children who’ve experienced trauma. These kids range in age from newborn to 21 years old.
"For whatever reason we have a much harder time finding families who are willing to be certified for teenagers and that’s a pretty general need across all foster care agencies," said Largo.
They’re also looking for people who can take in sibling groups.
And if you can’t foster or adopt, here are ways you can help children in need:
- Volunteer to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), represent the best interests of abused and neglected children
- Talk to family and friends about foster care
- Learn how to identify and report child abuse
"There’s a big focus on if you see something say something, if you see any form of child abuse at all, you want to report it to make sure that child and family gets the services and the help that they need," said Largo.
Child and Family Services has two virtual learning opportunities coming up:
- Surviving and Thriving: Working with Trauma-Impacted Children and Families
- May 11, 12-1pm
- This is an opportunity for our community to learn more about how to effectively help families who have experienced abuse and neglect, what it means to take a trauma-informed approach, how Covid has impacted services and how they work towards reunification
- To register, click here
- Monthly general information meeting for people interested in learning more specifically about Foster Care & Adoption program
- May 12, 6pm
- To register, click here