By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4) – May is National Foster Care Month, and the Colorado Department of Human Services recognized five exceptional Colorado foster families during a virtual celebration earlier this month.

“The families who were honored at the celebration are examples of ordinary Coloradans doing something extraordinary, to open up their home to children and youth. They’re committed to caring for older youth and siblings, and are focused on supporting families, and reunification of families,” said Yolanda Arredondo, Deputy Director of the Division of Child Welfare. “Those families that were honored, they provided safety, stability, and care for the children and youth who had needs while their parents took time to learn new skills and address safety concerns.”

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Currently there are 2443 certified foster and kinship families in Colorado, and a little more than 4,000 children and youth currently living with a foster family or with a kinship caregiver.  So more foster families are greatly needed especially those willing to take in children and youth with complex behavioral and mental health needs, as well as, older youth and sibling groups. Approximately 10 children and youth go into foster care in Colorado every day.

“It’s important in Colorado that we have diverse foster families because we really want to prioritize keeping kids and youth in their own community, so having foster families from all across Colorado is very important,” Arredondo told CBSN.

In order to become a foster parent you have to be 21 years of age and willing to open your home to make a difference in a young person’s life. Foster parents can be single, or married, or partners or friends. They can own or rent a home or an apartment. They can be from any religion, race, ethnicity, and they can be any sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

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“It doesn’t matter if a foster parent is a first time foster parent, if they have no experience, if they’re older or younger, of they’ve had a lot of experience as a parent, all of that is great, as long as someone has the willingness to open their heart and their home to a child or youth,” Arredondo explained.

The process for becoming a foster parent includes an application, a background check, a home study and also training. There is a lot of support and a lot of opportunity along the way to ask and answer questions.

LINK: More Information About Becoming A Foster Parent

Libby Smith