Imperfect parents

We are looking for imperfect parents. Individuals who know they don’t have it altogether and still want to give what they have.

Because being a foster parent isn’t about having a perfect home. It’s about having a welcoming home. A place where kids feel safe enough to let their guard down and start to heal.

Being a foster parent isn’t about having a perfect heart either. It’s about having a willing-to-learn heart. Willing to explore and try trauma-effective strategies to best connect with youth from hard places.

Because youth in foster care aren’t looking for perfect parents. They are in need of safe and authentic adults who will show up for them, cheer for them, celebrate them and stay with them when life is hard.

You don’t even have to parent perfectly to succeed as a foster parent. Being willing to admit mistakes and apologize is a remarkable quality.

The need is great for parents who believe in imperfect progress and have empathy for brokenness. For adults who can extend kindness and grace to youth who are hurting. Especially to teens, sibling groups and children with medical needs.

If imperfect is where you are, let’s talk about the possibilities. Connect with Heather today at 330.462.1118 or huebnerh@ccho.org. Or click the inquire button at the top of your screen.

Prep course update

Encourage is excited to announce that our prep courses to become a licensed foster family is now 24 hours.

Due to House Bill 8, the Ohio legislature has reduced the training requirements for foster caregivers from 36 hours to 24 hours effective January 22, 2021. Here is a summary quote from The Ohio Children’s Alliance, “Passage of HB 8 will equip Ohio’s child welfare system to onboard foster parents quicker and utilize virtual training opportunities. This is especially important given Ohio’s recent rise in foster care placements and the need to leverage virtual technology amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Read the full article.

Encourage foster parent prep courses provide the tools for families to be successful as they say YES to a placement. We have a talented and compassionate team that will ensure you have support, guidance and resources as you take the journey as a foster family. Our focus is providing standard training that is mandated by the state as well as specialized training with a trauma-informed approach.

We teach our families TBRI, an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI uses Connecting Principles for attachment needs, Empowering Principles to address physical needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI is connection.

Read a Beginner’s Guide to TBRI.

If you have a heart to foster, yet you have questions, please make that phone call. Heather Huebner, our foster parent recruiter, would love the opportunity to answer your questions and share all about Encourage Foster Care. She can be reached at 330.462.1118.

Imperfect parents needed and YES, you can foster too. ❤️

Facebook Live Q&A

UPDATE: We are postponing our Foster Care Q&A session until February, but we are always open and available to take your questions. Send Heather a message at huebnerh@ccho.org or give her a call at 330.462.1118. 

Yes, I’ve thought about fostering, BUT I have so many questions and I just don’t know where to begin.

Our Encourage team would love the opportunity to answer your questions. There’s no question too big or too small. How has the pandemic affected foster care? What training do I need? Do I have to be married? What if I don’t own my own home? What are the ages of the children? What are visits with bio-families like? Where do the referrals come from? What sets Encourage Foster Care apart from other agencies?

We have answers to these questions and more! And we want you to share your challenges and concerns so we can better serve you.

Send us your questions today and make plans to tune in for our Facebook Live Q&A event on Monday, December 7 at 7pm. This will be a great opportunity to not only have your questions answered but to meet some of our staff that will be walking alongside you as you consider this journey in foster care.

Submit your questions via email to Heather at huebnerh@ccho.org or through Facebook Messenger. We look forward to answering those questions that may be laying on your heart and sharing the need for foster families throughout Northeast Ohio.

Mark your calendars for this fun and informative Facebook Live Q&A event with the Encourage Foster Care team: Monday, December 7 at 7pm.

We hope you’ll feel encouraged because, yes, you can foster too!

PS – if you are curious or looking for question prompts, check out the Encourage FAQ page.

On any given day in Ohio

On any given day in Ohio, nearly 16,000 children are being cared for away from their parents. They have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. Foster parents provide much-needed safety and support for these hurting kids. Your home could be exactly what they need.

Cuyahoga County – 3,500+
Stark County – 890+
Summit County – 875+
Wayne County – 135+

Children and teens who have experienced trauma often display their hurt, pain and fear through challenging behaviors. You can help them find their way through all the pain to find healing and a new way to manage all they have experienced. Encourage provides supports from a trauma-informed approach. Training is provided in Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI).

Making the decision to foster is big. It comes with many questions and our staff is here to talk with you about what it would look like to welcome a child or sibling group into your home. The decision is also brave and bold as you say yes to fostering through faith and loving kids in need.

Our next foster parent prep courses begin September 1. There’s still time to join the online class–a mix of live trainings through Zoom and self-paced modules. Contact Heather Huebner at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118.

The greatest need

We recently shared a news article on the Encourage Facebook page about youth in foster care being housed at the Cuyahoga County Department of Job and Family Services. We asked Encourage Intake Coordinator Angel Sigler to share more about the critical need and how we can respond.

I hear voices crying out about the need for more foster parents in our communities. Voices saying that there are not enough homes for children in need of safety. On one level this is true, but there’s a greater need in this situation. The bigger challenge is that there are not enough foster homes with the ability to provide care for children with high-level needs—especially if that child with behavioral needs is a teenager. Not many families are willing or trained to welcome them and address their unique needs. Those are the children living in the DJFS buildings.

Here’s the greatest need: foster parents who are willing and trained to take in children with high-level behavioral issues caused by trauma and help them find their way through all the pain to find healing and a new way to manage all they have experienced.

The emotional and behavior challenges of a traumatized child do not instantly go away once you love them and give them a safe environment. It is a long process, but the end is so worth it.

There are boys and girls completing their individualized therapy programs at residential treatment centers, including CCHO, waiting for a place to go. These hurting youth came into residential care because their compounding losses made them unable to adapt and function well in a foster family home. They’ve spent an average of six to nine months working their programs, participating in therapy, and now they are ready to try their new skills in a family setting. With few foster families willing or able to help them acclimate back into a family unit and the greater community, these children wait in limbo and begin to lose hope that a family will ever want them.

My heart hurts for these precious kids.

We need families to say yes to opening their hearts and homes to teenagers even if those teens are angry, struggling with drug issues, or facing mental-health concerns. If we don’t help these youth find their way out of the pain—which often looks like anger and self-medication—they will become adults with no support system, no healing, and ultimately no hope. That is heartbreaking. And the cycle often repeats with their children.

The system is only as broken as you and I allow it to be. Is reform needed? Sure. Do we want children living in the DJFS building? Certainly not. But what choice does the county have until more families respond?

Here’s my invitation. Lean in to fully hear my heart.

Will you step up and fight alongside and for these kids? Not like cheerleaders on the sidelines, but in the field getting dirty with them? They really need you—stable, caring adults—to help them find themselves in the midst of the chaos.

Patience, flexibility and a willingness to learn TBRI skills. When foster parents implement this posture and these tools and welcome kids with high-level behavioral needs into their homes, that’s when we’ll see the miracles begin to happen. Our promise at Encourage: we commit to coming with you every step of the journey—training, coaching, empowering and celebrating.

Learn more about becoming a foster parent today.

Blessing of saying yes

Throughout National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing “Blessings Found in Fostering.” We’ve asked Encourage families and staff to tell us what they’re learning and the God moments they’ve seen along the way. Today’s story of blessing comes from Maria Reina, one of our foster care coordinators. She sees firsthand the joys and sorrows that our foster children and families experience.

I am so thankful for the heart and responsiveness of our Encourage foster families. Our agency recently received a referral request for a foster home for two young boys. The county truly wanted to keep the brothers together. One of our families without question took this placement. They did not doubt it for a minute. I was on call that day and had the privilege of placing these siblings together with this family. I hope they know what a blessing they are to these young kids.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” -Romans 10:17

Encourage foster families are a blessing to children and teens. Regardless of the length of their time together, they truly have a lasting impact. Learn more about what it takes to be a successful foster parent. The need for foster parents is great. To inquire, please contact Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118.

Now is the time

Throughout National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing “Blessings Found in Fostering.” We’ve asked Encourage families and staff to tell us what they’re learning and the God moments they’ve seen along the way. Today’s message comes from Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist. Heather finds blessing in each person who considers becoming a foster parent. And she loves talking through the possibilities with individuals and families. This role may not be for everyone, but there are opportunities for everyone to help children in need. Watch the video and learn more.

If you would like to get more involved in meeting the needs of youth in foster care, Heather would be honored to process this decision with you. Reach out today at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118.

One common question

So many questions come up when you consider fostering. There’s a lot to ponder as you seek to do what’s best for your family and follow the Lord in His plans for you.

We asked one of our seasoned foster families to address one common question.

The Beery Family is a Foster It Forward mentor family with Encourage helping their mentees feel more connected and better equipped to handle the unique challenges that come with fostering children. Elijah and Amanda Beery chose the journey of being a foster family out of direct obedience to the call God had on their life.

They are also excited to share their experiences and provide guidance to others considering next steps in fostering. Meet Amanda at our You Can FosterToo.com event at the Wayne County Public Library on Tuesday, August 6.

For additional information or to ask a question today, please contact Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118.

Yes, You Can FosterToo.com

We rent our home.
I am single.
We have full-time jobs.
We have two dogs.
I am divorced.
We are retired.
We don’t live in Wayne County.
We home school our children.
We are scared to say yes.

There are so many questions that come up when you consider fostering. Sometimes prospective parents aren’t sure if they can even become foster parents. We understand. Our team is here to walk beside you through this process and help you feel empowered. Because, yes, you can foster too!

With those questions and nervous feelings in mind, we are hosting a special info session on Tuesday, August 6 from 6:30 to 8pm at the Wayne County Library. This informal and authentic conversation is open to anyone who has any questions about becoming a foster or respite parent. Or even questions about mentoring a foster child or teen.

Encourage staff and seasoned foster parents will be present to share from their personal experiences and answer your questions. Spoon Market & Deli will also be providing some delicious food for our gathering. Please rsvp today so we can serve you well.

For additional information, please contact Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118.

Ministry focus

We receive many inquiries from families who are looking to adopt an infant or a young child. We are so thankful that you are considering this option to give children a forever family and we will gladly provide you a list of agencies that would be able to help you on your journey.

Our ministry focus at Encourage is fostering and foster to adopt. If you are looking to foster or foster to adopt and possibly take sibling groups, teens or children with medical needs than our agency would be a wonderful fit for you. These youth are our greatest priority.

We currently serve the counties of Ashland, Crawford, Coshocton, Cuyahoga, Harrison, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne. And every month, our agency receives dozens of requests for foster homes for children from these counties.

We especially need homes for children over the age of five, brothers and sisters, and children who have experienced sexual abuse. Learn more about these children in foster care and consider how your home might provide safety and stability for a hurting child or teen when they need it most.

It is an exciting yet overwhelming step to open your hearts and homes up to a child or sibling group that has experienced separation, loss and trauma in their lives. Our mission is to connect foster and adoptive families with strong support systems that will equip them with the physical, emotional and logistical help they need.

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions. We would love to assist you in any way. Reach out to Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist, at huebnerh@ccho.org or 330.462.1118.