Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How camping connected one teen to his forever family

Sorry for our absence over the last month! Hopefully, I can make it up by sharing a good story. :)

I spoke recently with Aimee, a member of Iowa KidsNet's matching team. Who's the matching team? These are the folks who receive the calls from the Department of Human Services (DHS) when they have a child who needs a foster home.

Our matching team then uses a database to identify and contact foster families who would be a good match for the child's needs, and we present the potential matches to the DHS caseworker for a final decision. You can read more details about the matching process here.

Anyway, the good story. This team member told me about a young man who had been in and out of foster care for several years now. A great young man, but he had some significant needs that required a very special family.

"It was a planned placement into foster care, and I think we called over 52 homes for him," Aimee said.

In the end, it was a tiny detail on his paperwork that caught her eye and helped find the right family.

"The thing that caught my attention was where it said he liked to go camping and be outside," she said. "I remembered I had talked to a family previously where the foster dad shared how much their family enjoyed camping and living in a rural area. I wondered if maybe that could be their connection."

The family had taken special needs children in the past, and when they found out about this young man's outdoor interests it sparked a response.

Each year over 20,000 youth age out of foster care without having been adopted or having the permanent support they need to make a successful leap into adulthood.

That won't be the case for this young man. Within a year after first coming to live with them, the family adopted him. He'll now have a forever family and the support he needs to succeed!

We often tell people thinking about foster care that they would be surprised how much they have to offer, just by sharing their interests and giving a child love and support in a stable home. This is a great example.

Hopefully, they'll enjoy many, many great family camping trips to come!


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