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A look into Coyote Hill’s new foster program, and a foster parent’s experience with the organization.
After nearly 30 years of providing children with the care and safety they need, Coyote Hill has introduced a Foster Care Services program, a new foster program to Columbia to help provide licensing and support for foster families around the community as the rate of kids coming into care continues to steadily grow.
“Our new program has a training and licensing component. Our goal is to train and license new foster parents and foster parents who have been licensed with us,” Paige Douce, family advocacy director explains.
This program also offers a support component. Family advocates from the organization provide support to these foster families as soon as the advocate has contact with them, and will continue to provide support for them throughout the entire fostering journey—from the beginning paperwork to providing meals if the family is in need, family advocates are there along the way.
Drew and Bri Tennant have always had an interest in helping the community in any way they can. One of their most recent ways they are helping is by fostering through Coyote Hill’s latest program. “We decided fostering would be a good step into learning more about parenthood. We chose to take this step after consideration of our house and the emptiness it felt,” Drew explains. “We have already taken much of an interest in helping the community in many ways, and this just seemed like another way we could help families who were in need of rebuilding.”
To prepare for the journey of fostering, all foster and adoptive parents are required to complete the Specialized, Training, Assessment, Resources, Support, and Skills (STARS) program. This program covers many components to help provide foster children and parents with the best experience possible. While Drew and Bri have completed their STARS program, Coyote Hill continues to provide the family with help. “Even though the classes have ended, they still keep in constant contact with us and answer questions whenever they arise. I am amazed at the information we were taught while taking the classes. They kept it manageable and it never felt overwhelming. I’m glad we have the Coyote Hill team on our side,” Drew says.
This training and support throughout the fostering journey is crucial, not only for the parents, but also for the kids. “Whenever kids are in a home, we want them to find a stable, safe home, so they can be able to have longer placements. The more often kids move, the more trauma kids have. We want to train our foster parents to be a stable place and to feel supported, so they can feel like they can support the kids in their homes,” Paige explains.
Foster care, Paige explains, is a world that many don’t know a lot about. There’s a lot of ins and outs of fostering—knowing the challenges foster parents may face with their children, understanding the ‘why’ and the hurt these kids have experienced, and so much more—these training sessions will help foster parents prepare as best as they can for the unknown and make them the best parents they can be.
Drew explains, “Being a foster parent has opened me up to the rest of the community and the amount of help out there. People giving shoes, clothes, and food just to help provide a moment’s notice. They let me know that there is always someone to help whenever you need it.”