Luggage drive for foster children underway

DOUBLE SPRINGS - A child is tasked with packing a suitcase. They are being moved from the only home they have ever known, albeit to a better home, and it is something new for them. It could be temporary or permanent depending on the situation. As the child packs the suitcase, it hits home things are changing, never to be the same again. To make matters worse, some of these children only have garbage bags to pack their clothes in.
Since May is National Foster Care Month, the Winston County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association is presenting a luggage drive so foster children will have something to transport their belongings from home to home. Duffel bags and diaper bags are also being accepted, which will be distributed to some of the 74 local foster children currently in care.
Items may be brought to the Winston County Department of Human Resources building at 991 Highway 33 South in Double Springs or by calling Rachel at (205) 269-1747 or Ashley at (205) 272-4848.
“We’re asking for any kind of new or used in good condition suitcases, duffel bags or something for kids to put their clothes in, as long as they don’t have to use garbage bags,” Martha Haynes, social services caseworker, at WCDHR said. “A lot of times, that’s what they end up with, moving from place to place. We would like for all of them to have a couple of suitcases, even the ones in care now to have some. I’ve had plenty of kids who have had nothing but a garbage bag.”
“It gives them dignity,” Rachel Blanton said. “There is no dignity in carrying your things around in garbage bags. It just helps them. It’s sad for them to have ripping garbage bags. With a suitcase, you can get it organized. This (drive) is a good thing. We need it.”
Personnel at WCDHR reiterate to donate luggage in good condition, especially if it is used.
“Make sure they are clean suitcases,” Susan Tucker at WCDHR said. “If you won’t put your kids’ clothes in it, don’t send it to us.”
Additionally, Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting, or TIPS-MAPP classes, will begin Tuesday, June 1 at the WCDHR. The classes are required for anyone to become a foster parent. They will be every Tuesday night until Aug. 3, for the required 10 weeks of training. Class times are from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Child care during the class is not provided.
Some basic requirements to becoming a foster parent are listed below.
• All foster parents/caregivers must be at least 19 years of age.
• Foster parents must either be single (not cohabitating), married or separated/divorced. If separated, it has to be a minimum of one year with a separate household established. If married, the marriage has to be at least for one year.
• All foster parents must be able to read and write.
• Foster parents must maintain reliable transportation and insurance on the vehicle used.
• Foster parents must complete 30 hours of pre-service training (TIPS classes).
• Medical exams must be completed on all household members, including a tuberculosis skin test.
• Child/adult abuse/neglect clearances must be completed on all household members over 14 years of age.
• Criminal background checks must be completed by either the Alabama or Federal Bureau of Investigation.
• At least three positive references must be obtained.
• A copy of driver’s license or photo identification must be on file.
• If the home has a pool or body of water, it must have a four foot barrier around it with a locking gate.
• All foster parents must be CPR and water safety certified, which can be provided by DHR.

For more information or questions on the classes, please contact Haynes at (205) 489-1529 or Kenda Watts at (205) 489-1526.

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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