The Oregon Department of Human Service (DHS) Columbia County Foster Parents Appreciation Project has launched a community-engagement effort honoring local foster parents.
The effort marks May as Foster Parent Appreciation Month.
"Each year it is our honor to acknowledge the commitment and incredible work that our foster families do every day with the children in our custody," according to coordinator Ana Hadar-Ziady. "The state of Oregon would not be able to provide safe haven for children and teens from hard places without our dedicated foster parents."
This year, during the time of COVID-19, Hadar-Ziady said it is more important than ever that community partners, stakeholders and individuals come together to visibly show appreciation and support of the local foster families.
"Our foster families are on the front lines in a way that no other essential workers are right now," Hadar-Ziady said." They are caring for our state’s most vulnerable children 24/7. Every day they are protecting, nurturing and loving all the children in their homes during this crisis."
According to Hadar-Ziady, the local foster parents have no babysitting, no regular respite, no regular school, no camps, no in-person counseling and "no end in sight."
"Columbia County Foster families need to know that their community cares about them and appreciates the hard work they are doing," she said. "This message of support is more crucial than ever as our community struggles to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus.
The local project
“Dinner’s On Us” is the theme of this year’s appreciation no contact event. Every sponsor will be included in a short video message of support delivered to all the foster families.
On May 30 individual or group donors personalized video message of encouragement, solidarity and support will reach every certified foster and adoptive family in Columbia County and they will get a much-deserved night off from cooking dinner, according to a release from the DHS, which states,
"A BBQ Box full of delicious food, desert and party supplies will be delivered to their doorstep. We need your help to pull this off!"
"Let’s show Columbia County foster parents how wide the support for them is in Columbia County," Hadar-Ziady said. "We currently have 75 foster homes and we will be feeding 136 adults and 175 children. Your BBQ Box sponsorship will support our local foster families and the local businesses that have always supported our foster parent events in pre-COVID-19 times."
- Large BBQ Box $100
- Medium BBQ Box $50.00
- Small BBQ Box: $25.00
How to get involved
Email Ana Hadar-Ziady firstname.lastname@example.org to receive instructions on submitting your “Dinner’s On Us” Foster Parent Appreciation Personalized Video Message.
Contact Ana at 503-396-0555 with any questions.
Make checks to:
Department of Human Services Child Welfare Columbia County
Mail checks to:
- Department of Human Services Child Welfare
- Attn: Ana Hadar-Ziady/Dinner’s On US
- 500 N. Columbia River Hwy. Ste. 220
- St. Helens OR 97051-1200
Hadar-Ziady also responded to The Chronicle's questions about requirements and regulations for foster parenting in Oregon.
The Chronicle: Specifically, what are the responsibilities of the DHS foster parents in Columbia County?
Hadar-Ziady: Foster parents provide safe homes for kids from hard places. Foster parents do everything a regular parent would do. They take kids to medical, dental and counseling appointments. Foster parents ensure kids are doing well in school, helping with homework attending any school meetings or sporting events. They support visitation with the foster child’s family. Foster families have a responsibility to help meet the child’s cultural spiritual and religious needs. Advocating for the foster children in their care is one of the most important roles of a foster parent.
The Chronicle: What are the state/local requirements that the foster parents must follow and do they go through certification?
Hadar-Ziady: Foster parents go through 24 hours of DHS training, called Foundations. Foundations covers many topics including rules, policies, trauma informed parenting and how to prepare your family for the foster care journey. Every foster family must complete this training. All foster families must complete an application packet and go through the home study process which includes a background check, reference check, interviews and safety assessment of the home environment.
The Chronicle: What is the DHS process in monitoring the foster parents to ensure the well-being, health and safety of those in their care?
Hadar-Ziady: DHS Caseworkers perform home visits and check-ins regularly with foster parents. Caseworkers are required to see the children on their caseload monthly and physically be in the foster home every other month. Certifiers also monitor the home to make sure the home meets certification standards.
Certifiers are required to do home visits every 180 days. Along with DHS policy around ensuring safe environments, there are other community partners that help ensure safety such as attorneys, CASAs, mental health professionals, early intervention specialists, etc.
The Chronicle: To qualify as a foster parent, what would I need to do under state/local regulations?
Hadar-Ziady: Potential foster families should have stability in their lives through regular employment or income, a stable home environment, enough room for a foster child or children, be able to pass a DHS background check and meet the agency’s certification standards.
The Chronicle: What are the challenges foster parents face and how does the DHS work with these parents to overcome such challenges?
Hadar-Ziady: Each foster family has a unique set of needs and dynamics. DHS works diligently to support families and remove barriers if any occur. Some of the challenges foster families encounter include parenting special needs children with extensive trauma history, navigating complex systems, adjusting to life as a foster family and transitioning foster children in and out of the home.
The Chronicle: What are the rewards of being a foster parent?
Hadar-Ziady: I have heard foster parents say this is the most rewarding and yet difficult thing they have ever done. They also say that they wish they would have done it sooner, that it has changed their family for the better, and that they feel they are making a difference.
Many foster parents keep in contact with the children they have cared for and their families for many years after leaving the foster home. Being a foster parent has its challenges but there are many rewards and the rewards outweigh the challenges. When you care for children and support their families you are impacting the community, leaving a lasting positive impact.
The Chronicle: Feel free to add any other brief comments you might have.
Hadar-Ziady: One of the ways that we show our foster families how much we appreciate the hard work they do every day is by having special appreciation events throughout the year. We could not do that without the support of our local community.See the Thank You list attached.
Thank you to all the individuals and DHS staff who have sponsored families and volunteered their time for this year’s no contact event.