If you have room in your home and in your heart, fostering a child can be a great way to give back to your community and make a major impact on a young person’s life. In the U.S., there are more than 420,000 children in the foster care system, with more than 250,000 children entering care each year.
Benchmark Family Services works to find therapeutic foster homes for these children in the Coastal Bend and across Texas. It also has locations in Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky. Its staff helps train and empower foster parents and provide ongoing support throughout the experience.
Anybody 21 years and older with a clean criminal background check, a stable income and a loving and safe home can become a foster parent with Benchmark Family Services. Though it’s a major commitment, many foster parents have found the experience to be incredibly rewarding, life-changing and educational.
Here are three lessons some of Benchmark Family Services’ most successful foster parents have learned.
- So Many Children Need Your Love
Mozell Lewis has been fostering children for 16 years, though she took a break for a few years after adopting five of her foster children. The biggest lesson she’s learned is a simple but important one.
“Coming up as a child, my family always helped raise children that needed that extra love,” Lewis says. “The lesson that I have learned is that even though I never had any biological children of my own, there many children waiting to be loved.”
- You Share a Love with Your Foster Child Even After They Leave Your Care
After children age out of foster care or return home, many stay in contact with Lewis. “Some call and say how I impacted their life,” Lewis says, “or some call to ask for prayer.”
Lewis has also seen some of her foster children make tremendous strides in their lives, which is incredibly rewarding. For example, “when a doctor tells you that a child placed in your home as a baby, who was born three months premature, would be developmentally delayed in everything – today this child is a senior in high school and never repeated a grade.”
- Structure Is Absolutely Crucial
Becky Contreras and her late husband had been looking into adopting a child when he passed away, and it was that tragedy that led Contreras to become a foster parent earlier this year.
“When he passed, there was such a loss as to what my future would be,” Contreras says. “Then after much prayer, I remembered our plans, and I thought, why not continue what he and I discussed? Maybe not adopt, but foster children. So I started my journey.”
One of the biggest lessons Contreras has learned so far is that her foster kids need structure and discipline. That can be difficult if they haven’t had it before, she says, but she provides structure through repetition and redirecting them to make better choices.
“Hopefully as they return to their families I will have played a part in what their decisions in life will be,” Contreras says. “I am blessed to have my health and the support of my family, especially my adult children, to continue this beautiful path in my life.”
Benchmark Family Services provides therapeutic foster care and quality out-of-home placements for youth in need by working with referring agencies to guarantee the support, treatment and care they deserve. For more information, call (361) 444-4977 or visit BenchmarkFamilyServices.org.
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
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