Can You Be A “Turning Point” In A Child’s Life?

Do you have space in your home and your heart for a foster child? Could you be a foster parent – full or part-time or on an emergency basis? This is the question that Latasha Myers and Marcus Wing, Resource Home Coordinators, at Turning Points for Children are asking us to consider. Their “job”, but it is so much than a job, is to build stronger families, giving them and the community a foundation for a brighter future.

Turning Points for Children is a leading agency in the city providing services to families. For over 175 years they have been successfully been offering programs for children who have been in abusive or unsafe environments. Families often find themselves in difficult situations due to poverty, unemployment, addictions, homelessness or the parent’s own childhood experiences.

Turning Points for Children was born because of the mergers of several agencies servicing children. Most recently in 2008, The Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania and The Philadelphia Society for Services to Children would form Turning Points for Children. This name really fits. Our local office is located at 4329 Griscom Street. May is Foster Care Awareness Month and this is the perfect time to learn more about being a foster parent.

I recently sat down to interview Latasha and Marcus. I was very impressed with their passionate advocacy, their hearts and the smiles on their faces as they talked about their life’s work. Both believe that every child should have a real childhood in a stable and safe home environment where they can grow physically and emotionally. Children are referred through the Child Abuse Hotline and/or through Department of Human Services.

Latasha Myers (l) and Marcus Wing (r), Resource Home Coordinators

Here is what they want you to know: their days are spent recruiting prospective foster parent(s) for infants up to 21 year olds. Don’t believe the stereotypes that foster children  are “bad”. Very often, these kids are in these situations through no fault of their own. There is a large need and Turning Points for Children is dedicated to helping kids. That’s why these children are often placed in their own neighborhoods because the familiar surroundings help them. Helping these kids is also helping to build community and a strong foundation for the future. The Department of Human Services’ Improving Outcomes for Children initiative came up with the idea of trying to keep the children in their communities so that it would be less disruptive.

If you would like to be a foster parent, you first receive training from a Resource Parent Support Specialist. You must be at least 21 but there is no age limit regarding being a foster parent. You need to get the appropriate clearances but they are paid for by Turning Points.  A home inspection is conducted to be sure the environment is safe and a good “fit” for you and the child. Once you are certified, each foster parent is given a Resource Support Specialist. As a foster parent, you are not alone. When a child is placed with you, Turning Points for Children has already evaluated the child determining their needs so that resources are readily available and provided. Ongoing support is there for you.

You are compensated monthly which varies with the age of the child. Infants, of course, need formula, diapers and teenagers receive an allowance to help teach them some independent skills. Clothing is provided as well. Each child is eligible for CCIS (child care if you’re working) and Medicaid.

Marcus and Latasha wanted you to also know that being a foster parent is very rewarding for you, too. You are helping to build community by giving these children a sense of a caring community. Of course, you are also giving back by supporting a family at a time they need it the most. The ultimate goal is to reunite children with their families but sometimes that isn’t possible. Some foster children are in foster care longer and might be able to be adopted by you or someone else. As Marcus said, you could be caring for the next President, leader, doctor, etc. But we all know its most important what kind of person you are.

Turning Points for Children are the first to volunteer with Frankford community projects, they are everywhere and they always have a little something to give out. They are all wonderful  community partners and I have met quite a few over the past years. They are very supportive of this community. This is why they have focused on building partnerships with other organizations in the community and offering opportunities for parents to come together like their “Parent Cafe”.

If you would like to learn more about being a foster parent, please don’t hesitate to contact Latasha or Marcus. You can reach Latasha Myers at 215-287-4353 or email lmyers@turningpoints.phmc.org or Marcus Wing at 267-449-1558 or email mwing@turningpoints.phmc.org.

Their website is turningpointsforchildren.org or find them on Facebook at Turning Points CUA3 and on Twitter @tp4cCUA3.