Answering the call to help foster kids: "They deserve better than sleeping in an office"
CREATED Aug 6, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Southeastern Arizona’s foster care system is in crisis and now dozens are stepping up to open up their hearts and homes to help.
For weeks, KGUN9 News has reported on the shortage of foster families in Pima County and beyond. It started with the revelation that Child Protective Services didn't have enough families so kids had to sleep in its Tucson office. An outpouring of concern followed. Monday night, dozens turned their concern into action in Tucson.
When Joann Gutierrez heard about foster children sleeping in CPS’ office, she wanted to help.
“Help because I wouldn't want any child to sleep in an office, on a chair or on the floor,” Gutierrez told KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen. “I would rather have them in a warm, clean bed. I can provide that.”
The 58 year old's children are grown and feels she's got the energy to help raise more temporarily.
“I thought, because I have a four-bedroom house and I have two bedrooms that I’m not using, that I could help,” the grandmother and Tucson resident said. “They deserve better than sleeping in an office. That's what brought me here.”
Gutierrez went to Casa de los Niños to learn more about foster parenting Monday evening. The special event on the topic is the result of a spike in interested families like Gutierrez's.
“’How can we help? We've heard about the need for foster homes. We've heard about kids in trouble,’” said foster care recruiter and trainer Brooke Brunner, explaining what concerned people have told her in recent weeks. “The purpose of tonight is find out: Where do I fit in? How can I open my heart?”
People have been opening their hearts in great numbers, Brunner said. She's never seen so many potential families step up. Thirty came to the evening orientation to learn about training, background checks, income requirements, home inspections and other aspects of fostering parenting.
Keen asked Brunner, “Will there be some people here tonight that learn that this isn't for them?” “Definitely. Yes,” she answered. “The way we view it is: it has to be right for your family.”
Brunner called foster parenting a “calling.”
Keen asked Gutierrez, “Are you aware of that? Are you prepared for that?” “Yes, because I called and I asked. [The organization] says you have to get classes and training,” Gutierrez answered. “I said, 'Well, I’m willing to do that. Whatever it takes.'”
Brunner added those who find foster parenting isn’t for them can still help by volunteering, such as tutoring. Find more activities to sign up for and more information online.