For many children, however, May can be a difficult month to navigate. Those in the child welfare system may not be able to celebrate Mother’s Day with their families of origin. When school ends, they may find themselves without safe homes in which to spend their summer days. For those graduating and aging out of the system, they may face the prospect of not being connected with caring families and receiving minimal social support. Canopy Children Solutions (Canopy) hopes to raise awareness and garner support for foster children and youth by participating in National Foster Care Month this May.
In the state of Mississippi alone, there are over 5,000 children in the foster care system. Some are waiting for reunification with their families of origin, some are waiting for adoption and others are waiting to see what happens next. Regardless of circumstance, however, they all deserve loving, secure homes. At Canopy, it is our mission to seek out and develop these homes for the children we serve in as individualized and compassionate manner as possible.
“We have a moral obligation,” says Elliott Brown, Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) Program Supervisor for Canopy. “These kids may not have a voice…They often need somebody to advocate for them, and it’s the responsibility of all of us. As a society, we’re ultimately responsible for providing adequate resources to care for our children and youth.”
Children in the welfare system have faced crises, abuse, neglect or even exploitation – traumas that may leave them feeling insecure, confused and scared. They often require reassurance from resource parents who are willing to provide a temporary safe haven where they can heal, grow and ultimately thrive.
Canopy’s TFC solution provides specialized care for foster children who have emotional, medical and/or developmental needs. It is designed to support both children and resource parents utilizing therapy, frequent check-ins, 24/7 support and ongoing training. The ultimate goal of TFC is to minimize institutional care while providing a pathway for reunification with families, adoption or independent living.
Brown states, “It [TFC] involves quite a bit of planning, a lot of hands-on work and a little improv.” He adds, “The advantage we have here at Canopy, is that we can collaborate between various solutions in order to provide the best care for our kids.”
TFC resource parents are offered continuous access to Canopy’s services to assist them in caring for their foster children. With solutions including MYPAC (Mississippi Youth Programs Around the Clock), Wraparound, Behavioral Health Clinics and CARES Schools, Canopy provides comprehensive support to individuals and families who selflessly choose to open their hearts and homes to children in need.
Although the foster children we serve largely benefit from our support in the short run, we will undoubtedly be the ultimate beneficiaries in the long run. “As a society, if we don’t do the things we need to do to address the problems associated with foster care, this will represent lost potential. These children are our future,” Brown says. “Imagine if children who had endured abuse or neglect had the right support in order to get the education or resources they needed. Who knows what they would be capable of? They could come up with an invention or an idea…or could serve society in a helpful and meaningful way.”
Canopy recognizes the urgent need to provide secure, loving homes to children in need. We also hope to use National Foster Care Month to publicly shine a light on this challenge. Fostering presents opportunities to help those who cannot help themselves through compassion, generosity and selflessness. While the challenges are great, the impacts and rewards of fostering are even greater.
For those interested in transforming the lives of children in need by providing desperately-needed love and stability, Canopy will guide and support you through the necessary steps, paperwork and training. For those unable to open their homes, Canopy encourages you to support other resource parents by volunteering (e.g., cooking a meal). In addition, you can utilize your voice to advocate for foster children. Whether you are casually talking with a friend, speaking to a community group, or touching base with your local representative, simply making others aware of the resource-related challenges that foster children face can be a huge help.
For more information about therapeutic foster care, please contact Elliott Brown at 601-606-0208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.