NILES - Homes for Kids Inc. is hoping to have local residents become foster caregivers to the many children needing families and homes.
The agency, 43 N. Main St., recently hosted a holiday party recognizing the many families who have fostered and served as caregivers.
The agency provides treatment foster care to children who reside in the foster care system, many of whom have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused. The facility is looking for caring families or individuals to become foster caregivers for local children.
Shannon Harnichar, director of foster care, said there are currently 11,851 children in the state needing healthy family environments.
Danette Palmer, coordinator of marketing and development, said foster caregivers are provided with training and support. Qualifications to be a foster caregiver are to be 21 or older, have a strong support system to handle stress and crisis situations, and be a resident of Ohio. Single persons, couples or co-parents are eligible.
Palmer said reimbursement for daily care of a child will be provided ranging from $35 to $65, as well as for attending trainings, placement bonus, 24-hour emergency support services and referral bonus.
Harnichar said treatment foster care is different than the traditional family foster care due to additional training requirements. The treatment team includes case workers, and mental health workers and therapists.
Training is offered at the Niles location with 50 children a year placed in the tri-county area.
Palmer said two local siblings, Angel, 6, and Jacob, 7, had their lives changed through the program. She said the children's biological mother abandoned them and they were living with their father, who had not been enrolled them in school. She said the children had no running water and had several hygiene issues. The two children, who had social and behavioral issues, were taken into custody by children services.
Palmer said two nontraditional parents came to the agency and took in the siblings.
''This was one of our foster care success stories that really changed the lives of two children,'' she said.
"Due to the training Homes for Kids provided to us, we were able to give these children the structure, positive reinforcement and understanding they needed to help them through their trauma and adjustment to normal life,'' said foster caregiver Wade Richards.
He said the two children previously did not have the opportunity to experience birthday parties or go to a fair.
Palmer said two years later, the two children are doing well in a healthy home environment. She said their foster caregivers decided to adopt them ''because they can't imagine life without them.''
She said more foster caregivers are needed.
''At the holidays we bring everyone together including the foster caregivers and the children,'' Palmer said.
Foster caregivers are provided with the education and skills necessary to make an everlasting impact on a child's life and receive 24 hour-a-day support and the reimbursement necessary to care for these children. Caregivers provide food, clothing, shelter, love, stability, safety, security, guidance, discipline and structure.
Participants should be flexible and accepting, provide guidance, behavior management and emotional support to a child.
Palmer said Homes For Kids / Child and Family Solutions is one of eight organizations selected by the PL Gibson Insurance Agency Inc. to compete for a holiday donation of $4,000 on their Facebook page. Individuals can log onto the PL Gibson Insurance Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/plgibsoninsurance and vote.