Published in the Citrus Chronicle on November 21, 2015.
Imagine you’re four years old and your big brother is 10. All in one day, you’re taken from your mother after she’s arrested. Your whole world is shaken, but you take solace knowing your big brother is with you, only to find him being put in another car and driven away. Now, who do you have? Everything familiar has disappeared. The lady driving you away from your home takes you to a nice house and knocks on the door. A smiling family greets and lets you in, but they aren’t your family, and your brother isn’t here.
Scenarios like this happen too often. Many times, in addition to being separated from their siblings, children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect are moved out of the community they know and have to live in surrounding counties, because there is simply not enough foster homes in Citrus County.
What does this have to do with you? These children belong to our community and deserve to remain in our county. They are Citrus County children: your neighbors, your children’s friends, your employees’ children. They are our future. Our community has the resources, passion, and spirit of connectivity to accept responsibility and step up and take care of these vulnerable children. It’s time to stop looking to others to care for these children. Others aren’t coming forward. Almost 100 children from Citrus County need you.
Every time a child must be placed in another county, their sense of community, friendships, family relationships and schooling are all disrupted. It’s harder for them to visit with their parents, brothers, sisters and other family members. The longer these children are kept out of permanent living situations, the longer it takes them to heal.
There are only 15 foster homes in Citrus County with 36 beds available for children who cannot safely remain at home. At this time, there are over 250 children from Citrus placed in care. As you can see, Citrus is missing a significant number of foster homes.
In the last month, we’ve had more children come into foster care than came into care in the previous three months combined. Children of all ages enter foster care by no fault of their own. Answer the call to care for the most vulnerable. The call has never been stronger.
Kids Central boasts an outstanding network of caring foster parents. We believe it’s the best in the state. If you have calling to care for children, join the ranks of these caring angels.
We are running out of options. If you and your neighbors do not come forward to help, we will have to send children to group homes out of the area. When this is done, we are further traumatizing children by taking away all that is familiar to them. And what message does that send? That our community does not care enough to look after our own – that we would rather outsource children than welcome them into our homes?
Think of the opportunity you may have to truly change a life, and the opportunities the child may have because of you and your family. Imagine how our children would thrive wrapped in the love of a family.
Our plea to you – Open Your Heart and consider opening your home. Call Rosey Moreno-Jones, Foster Parent Recruiter, for more information on becoming a foster parent by calling (352) 387-3424.
Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, Kids Central Board of Directors Chairman, & John Cooper, Kids Central CEO