Light up a life, become a foster parent for a child in need

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The first Tuesday in May celebrates foster youth, to kick off Foster Care Month.

Burlington United Methodist Family Services provides hope and healing to hurting children and families.

Children and youth thrive when they can live with their families. But not all home environments are safe. That’s when foster care becomes an option. BUMFS can help.

“Making sure that all their needs are met, that they have education, their recreational needs, their social needs, their medical needs,” said home evaluator Lisa Parkulo. “They are well taken care of when they go to the foster care system.”

Newborns to age 18 need homes, with a particular need for ten and up — that are harder to place. Foster parents have to go through extensive vetting and training. It takes three to five months to get certified.

“They have to do a therapeutic foster care training, a PRIDE (parent resource information developmental education) training that is a state requirement and a Burlington requirement,” Parkulo said. “They also have to do training such as CPR, first aid, OSHA, CPI. All of these are required and they all are taken care of by Burlington.”

When children are removed from their homes, it can be for many reasons.

“In West Virginia, we know with the drug situation, domestic violence or sexual abuse or medical or mental abuse,” said the home evaluator. “So when they come into our program, it’s important for us to make sure that those needs are taken care of.”

Because of these traumas, sometimes there’s even a role reversal and a child may take care of their parents.

“But they shouldn’t have to be that; they should be a child,” Parkulo said.

She says often the kids realize they will always love their biological parents. If there’s a court order Burlington will ensure they keep in contact with them.

Getting placed in a foster home can be truly transformative for a child.

“A lot of times children do see that somebody is making sure, ‘Hey, I’m going to school, I’m getting good grades, I have friends, I’m on a soccer team, I’m doing activities, I don’t have to maintain or babysit my siblings,’ said the home evaluator. “Their self-esteem improves; they become an individual.”

Who’s fostering in West Virginia? According to Parkulo, all kinds — from single parents to same-sex parents to single men, single women, married couples.

“Parent has a different definition than, say, mother and father,” she said. “Because we are United Methodist, you don’t have to be a Methodist person. You can be of any religion raised. Burlington covers from Charleston, Beckley, Grafton, Fairmont, Maryland area, Martinsburg.”

They are looking for good people interested in becoming foster parents.

“It takes a lot to open up your heart and your home,” said Parkulo. “So call me.”

Burlington United Methodist Family Services

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