Nearly 300 foster kids in Douglas County were invited to experience the second annual Foster Fun Day day with food and activities at Stewart Park last Friday.
It was put on by Douglas C.A.R.E.S. (Child Abuse Response and Evaluation) sponsored the event for foster kids and their families.
“It’s just to give them a break and have some fun for a day,” said Douglas C.A.R.E.S. Executive Director Mike Nores.
Nores said it can be hard for foster families to find fun and affordable events to share as a family. He estimated nearly 300 Douglas County foster kids attended the event.
The need for foster parents has been steadily increasing with about 600 kids in foster care in Douglas County. That means the need is also big for more volunteers to advocate for the kids in the court proceedings.
A representative from Court Appointed Special Advocates matches a volunteer with a child, to help guide them through court proceedings.
Scott Gilley, acting executive director of CASA says right now, they have enough to cover about half of the children in foster care, and the others just have to wait until a volunteer is available.
“Right now we’re sitting at roughly 50 percent of the kids that have a CASA representative,” Gilley said.”We’re recruiting volunteers to make sure we can cover all of them.”
Vicki Steinley, the clinical supervisor at Douglas C.A.R.E.S., said whatever causes the child to be removed from the home is disturbing enough, but when the kids are actually taken from the home, might be the toughest part for the youngsters.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get to the abuse, because they’re so traumatized by being removed from the family,” Steinley said. “No matter how horrendous it was at home, it’s still their family.”
There is a huge need, she said, for foster parents in the county, and Steinley says much of that can be attributed to the opioid crisis. The parents are often addicted and have neglected the kids, Steinley said. She added that more focus needs to be put on parenting skills and letting people know what resources are available, so they know where to go for help.
The state requires every child taken into care, to undergo a mental health evaluation. Douglas C.A.R.E.S. is the only facility in Douglas County providing that service.
Randy Olander, a clinical psychologist with Douglas C.A.R.E.S. said it’s taxing and stressful to see the heartbreaking cases of child abuse, but the rewards are great in being able to make a positive difference in a child’s life.
“We get an amazing opportunity to give kids a way to get back to trusting the world,” said Olander. “We are trained in doing trauma-informed work, and you get to see kids get better, and that’s a pretty exciting thing.”
Nores said the community has been wonderful in helping with the event The National Guard, Bay Cities Ambulance, Roseburg Police and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office were all there to give kids a look at first responders in a much different light than they may have seen previously. Nores estimated nearly 300 kids came to the event.
To find out about being a foster family, or to be a volunteer with CASA, call 541-672-7001 or go to casaofdouglascounty.org.