11/13/05 — Building renovations designed for needs of foster children

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Building renovations designed for needs of foster children

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 13, 2005 2:00 AM

With a few renovations to the second floor of the Wayne County Foster Parent Building, workers now have the resources necessary to meet the needs of foster children throughout the county, officials say.

Foster care and social workers recently held an open house to show the improvements and to discuss the future of the building with foster parents and children.

"This is important because we needed a place like this," said Angela Corbett, a foster parent. "We needed a permanent location, instead of just a meeting place. We needed a place for the kids."

Many of the rooms throughout the second floor are now designated for foster children. For infants and younger children, one of the rooms has been converted into a play area. Now, infants and toddlers can enjoy playing with toys and teddy bears while looking at a mural depicting a field of flowers.

Since the ages of the children range from infancy to 18, the renovation included the addition of a room for older children as well. Movies, magazines and other forms of entertainment are available.

Although the renovations have provided foster children with entertainment, there are more serious aspects to the foster parent building. Many of the rooms on the second floor have been changed into reunification rooms.

After a child is seperated from his or her parents, Mrs. Corbett said everyday situations can become more difficult for him or her. The children are put in a situation and location they are unfamiliar with. Within these new families, the children are expected to obey the structure of their new families, which could be the only familial structure they have experienced.

The situation is not any easier for the parent, foster care worker Stephanie Mitchell said. Depending on how the parent is separated from the child, the parent could be legally obligated to take courses ranging from anger management to a psychological evaluation.

After an extended legal process, parent and child could come together again in the reunification room. The room provides a comfortable setting devoid of any distractions, which is very important for the parties involved.

"The reunification needs to be in a comfortable setting with nothing distracting," Mrs. Corbett said. "In the past, we have had them at parks and McDonald's, and there are too many distractions."

The most improved renovation is the clothing room. When a child comes into the care of the Department of Social Services, he or she might not have clothes of his or her own.

Through the donations of former and current foster parents, however, clothes are now available for infants, girls, boys and older children. The clothing room also provides toothbrushes and shoes.

Although many sizes of clothes are accounted for, many more donations are needed, adoption social worker Terry Harne said. Items on the wish list include clothes, diapers, televisions, office supplies, a computer and a refrigerator. Harne said many of the supplies needed are resources valuable to the children in foster care.

For those interested in donating to the building, smaller items can be dropped off at the Wayne County Foster Parent Building at 103 Ormond Ave. Any person planning to donate a larger item should contact Harne at 731-1097 and make an appointment. The workers prefer the donated items be new.