McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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March 19, 2014

Foster families needed

McALESTER — More than 100 Pittsburg County children are in need of a foster care home, according to Ryan Brecheen recruiter for TFI Family Services.

TFI is one of one of four private non-profit foster care contractors charged with place children in foster homes as part of a class settlement in a 2012 lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, according to okdhs.gov.

“DHS still handles the investigations, kinship homes, and adoptions, but they have contracts with the four companies to recruit, train, and maintain foster homes,” Brecheen said.

He said TFI originally started as “The Farm” a day camp for foster children.

“We started as a day camp, then we were asked to keep children overnight, because of the need, and we just kept growing from then on,” Breechen said.

He said right now in Pittsburg County, of the 136 children in the foster care system, only 26 have been placed in a regular foster care home.

“Because of the lack of homes, children are not just separated from their parents, but also their school, friends, everything that is familiar to them, and even their siblings.” Brecheen said.

“ It’s not unusual for siblings to live hours apart and to go months without seeing each other.”

He said he’s working hard to inform the community about the need by visiting with local churches and organizations.

“ I am willing to speak at any organization that will let me, or set up a table in a hallway,” Breechen said.

He said he’s asking churches in the area to find one family willing to foster one child, with the support of the church.

He said with the privatization of foster care, there is more support for the foster care families then there was previously.

“This means your family will have your own case worker, just as the child has their own worker,” Breechen said.

“This results in having someone on your side as a liaison.”

He said TFI pays a stipend to foster families for completing training, referring other foster care families and holds retreats for the families.

There are six qualifications to become a foster care parent, according to Breechen.

“You must be 21, pass a background check, and complete 27 hours of online or in-home training, have an outside source of income, pass a home inspection and have a working vehicle.

For more information call 580-927-0591, 866-543-9810, or visit www.tfifamilyconnections.org.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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