January 17, 2017

Getting to Know Youth In Care

For over 21 years, Our Children’s Homestead has served kids in the foster care system, helping hundreds return home, get adopted, or gain independence.

And now they want to help educate the community on a new term.

“When asking foster children what is it that you want to see changed, what is it that’s important to you. One of the first answers that we got was, we don’t want to be called foster children or wards of the state, we don’t want to be different, we don’t want to be separated by that,” said Director of Community Relations and Development with Our Children’s Homestead, Jacqueline Stogsdill.

That’s why in 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner took steps to get rid of the term, replacing it with the new phrase “youth in care.”

“They’re already dealing with a lot of other stresses, and already in a home there not too familiar with, a new home, new school, new workers and we want them to feel as comfortable as possible,” said Stogsdill.

Another needed update is the addition of more foster parents in our area, who are willing to take on specialized cases.

“We mainly work with children 11 and older that are stepped up to the specialized level, so they’re either diagnosed with an emotional or behavioral disorder,” said Licensing Supervisor with Our Children’s Homestead, Jackie Ganz.

While that may bring a few additional challenges, there is support along the way, as caseworkers, therapists, mentors, and other staff are there to assist both the child and parent. Something appreciated and utilized by many of Our Children’s Homestead’s foster parents.

“I’m so glad I did it, I’m so glad I was a part of their lives because I see the difference. I can’t imagine a kid not having a family and not having someone to look after them and really, for real care for them,” said Judy Washington, a foster parent with Our Children’s Homestead.

Some of the requirements for those interested include being at least 21, having a permanent residence with a room for the youth and having no criminal background.

“Why not? That’s what I’d say to other people. Why not? You have the room, you have the resources, I figure if I put one pot on, I could feed a lot of people,” said Washington.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

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