May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and everyone’s being reminded of the need for loving foster families in Berrien County. Mikayla Valentine is a recruitment specialist for Bethany Christian Services in Benton Harbor and tells WSJM News there are hundreds of foster children in Berrien County at any given time.
“We have a huge need for foster homes in our area,” Valentine said. “Specifically, we have a huge need for foster parents or families to become foster parents and be willing to take school age children, teens, and sibling groups. We find that there’s a large gap in our area of homes willing to take those groups of children.”
Valentine says her agency is contacted by Child Protective Services when there’s a need to find a foster home for a child locally. The goal is always to reunite the child with their family, but when that’s not possible, the goal becomes adoption. To be a foster parent, you have to be caring, pass a background check, and undergo an orientation. Valentine says one issue nationally is that around 23,000 foster kids age out of the system each year, although they still need support. Anyone interested in learning about being a foster parent should contact Bethany Christian Services or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.