The need for foster parents continues
By Monique Mansour
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are approximately 13,000 children in foster care in the state of Michigan. “We have 612 children in foster care in Macomb County currently,” said Kim Borja.
Borja has been the Macomb County Child Welfare Director since August of 2018. She holds 16 years of experience working with the state of Michigan in various capacities. Her journey began first as a foster care worker and as an adoption worker before she moved her way up into management. She’s a proud Michigan native from Macomb County. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and child development from Central Michigan University and her Master’s degree in Family Studies from Spring Arbor University.
“We have 56 licensed foster homes. We also work with private agencies who have their own foster homes that they’re licensed with, but we’re always recruiting for foster parents.” Some ways Borja and her department spread the message about foster care families and foster care parenting is through state-based organizations, public events, fairs, hospitals and schools.
But the biggest recruitment tool comes straight from the heart. “A lot of recruitment is done by word of mouth from current foster care parents to future foster care parents,” said Borja.
Several things are considered before a child is placed with a foster family. “We always look for relatives first. Some relatives are already licensed and some are not,” said Borja. “For our children that have more significant needs, such as behavioral or mental health needs, we look into placing them in residential care so that they can get the treatment that they need.”
The wishes of the child are always taken into consideration before a home placement is made. “If there are any religious beliefs or cultural customs in place that are important to a child, we look to see if there is a foster parent or foster parents that can best meet their needs and support them,” said Borja. “We also take into account the wishes of the foster parent or parents.”
Because children from a wide variety of backgrounds are currently in foster care, it is always helpful to have foster care parents who also come from a wide variety of backgrounds. “We’ve reached out to the Chaldean Community Foundation for help with recruitment. We do have a small number of Chaldean children in foster care.”
Interested individuals who want to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Michigan can contact the Foster Care Navigator Program for the State of Michigan at 855-642-4543 or by visiting FCNP.org. Another resource which offers more information on foster care and the foster care application process is www.michigan.gov/hopeforahome.