May is designated as National Foster Care month. An initiative of the Children's Bureau, it’s a time each year to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, …
May is designated as National Foster Care month. An initiative of the Children's Bureau, it’s a time each year to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.
Across this country of ours there are more than 407,000 children and youth in foster care. It’s our responsibility to ensure they have a bright future while also taking the time to celebrate those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
According to the Children’s Bureau, which is part of the Social Security Administration, when children cannot remain safely in their home, placement with relatives and kin - both formally through the child welfare system and informal through family arrangements - can increase stability, reduce trauma, and help children maintain a sense of family, belonging and identity.
As the Democrat reported on Friday, there has been encouraging progress made in our area toward increasing the pool of foster care homes. The county had contracted with the Children’s Home to recruit potential foster parents as well as run and promote trainings.
In July 2020, there were 138 kids in foster care in Sullivan County - the highest number ever recorded. Since then, according to Sullivan County Director of Services Danielle Mann, the county has doubled the number of foster homes in the area to around 60 foster homes while decreasing foster care numbers to around 104 children.
Things seem to be headed in a more positive direction, but there remains much work to be done.
While we’re on the subject of foster care, someone else deserves some recognition for their years of dedication.
Sister Dolores Gartanutti, the 85-year-old nun who has resided in Parksville for many years, has a new home at long last. Also reported in the Democrat on Friday, Gartanutti lost her home in 2020 due to a devasting fire.
Gartanutti retired in 1997 after more than twenty years as a foster parent in various capacities.
She began her helping career in Queens, New York when she opened and ran a homeless shelter, named Noah's Ark, for runaway teenagers. Eventually, she petitioned the courts to allow her to serve as foster parent to many needy children.
Gartanutti recently opened the door to her new modular home, funded in large part by donations from friends in Sullivan County and elsewhere, and elsewhere.
Sister Dolores Gartanutti is just one example of the positive influence that a foster parent can have in the lives of those in need. This month we salute those who do their best to help others.
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