Posted 6/20/12 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Since August 2011, McKenzie County has been without licensed foster care homes. Until recently, this fact has forced McKenzie County Social Services to place children from McKenzie County in other licensed homes across the state.
“This has disrupted the life of some county children who have been placed in foster homes. They are forced to deal with a new school, new city, new daycare, and new surroundings,” states Stacy Arnegard, social worker for McKenzie County Social Services. “Also, our agency staff has put on many miles to meet the once monthly mandatory face-to-face visits with children and to ensure that visits between children and their families take place.”
Today, McKenzie County has 19 children in foster care. And while most of them may still have to stay in homes outside of McKenzie County, the recent licensing of one family as foster parents and with two other families near finishing the licensing process, the day is coming when some McKenzie County children will be able to stay near familiar surroundings.
“I am very excited to report that McKenzie County has one licensed foster home and two more coming soon,” states Arnegard. “It is a much more positive situation when foster children can stay in their home community where they are most comfortable and our agency can attend to everyone’s needs much more readily.”
The licensed foster parents Arnegard is referring to are Randy and Mary Kindel, who completed their eligibility on May 22, 2012.
“I had just signed the paperwork and was literally on the phone with the Kindels about taking in children less than an hour later,” states Arnegard.
While for these children and for Arnegard, Randy and Mary couldn’t have become licensed at a better time, for the Kindels it was simply the right time.
“We’d been talking about it for a while,” states Randy and Mary. “We just reached a place where we were all on the same page, so we decided it was the right time.”
By we, Randy and Mary were referring to themselves and Arianna, their 15-year-old daughter and the youngest of the Kindel clan.
“I had been thinking about how we, as a family, and we, as Christians, should be willing to give of ourselves to help those in need,” states Arianna. So, when she was called upon to share her space with two children for an unspecified amount of time, Arianna welcomed it as an opportunity.
“I have really enjoyed it and have also learned a lot,” Arianna states.
All the Kindels state that it has been a rewarding and challenging experience that has taught them a lot, and though they know some situations will break their heart, it is still worth doing.
“The kids are going somewhere regardless of whether or not we decide to open up our homes,” states Mary. “They need a good home even if it breaks our heart.”
Nate and Elisa Thibodeau agree.
“We have been blessed with family and things and we want to be able to share what we have with children in need. To provide them safety and comfort in their time of distress,” states Nate.
According to Nate and Elisa, they have completed all their classes and training, and as soon as their inspections are complete, they look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead for them as foster parents.
In fact, because of where the Thibodeaus are in the licensing process, they are qualified to provide respite care, which they have recently been given the privilege of doing.
“It went really well,” Elisa states. “We were able to meet the children ahead of time, and since we knew it was only for one day, we could focus our attention and energy on the children.”
“Respite care greatly supports our foster families when they have appointments, an out-of-town trip or just need a break,” states Arnegard.
June is National Foster Care and Adoption Month. According to Arnegard, McKenzie County is still in need of foster care homes and respite foster care providers.
“When you decide to become a foster parent or a respite care provider, you are giving children a priceless, forever gift of stability, confidence and love,” states Arnegard. “I am so proud of the families that I am working with and the ones that inquire. I believe it is one of the best ways people can give back to our community. “
For information on becoming a licensed foster care provider or licensed respite provider, contact Stacy Arnegard at McKenzie County Social Services at 444-3661.