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Bob Costa knows there are people he can call, day or night, when a child is in trouble.
They are caretakers who open their homes when the courts order a child removed from their home for their own protection — perhaps because a parent or guardian has been arrested for drugs or violence. They are couples who welcome a transgender teen and show the respect and understanding denied him by perhaps even his own family. And they are the individuals who walk the floor at night cradling a wailing infant who is inconsolable as she withdraws from the opioids her mother took while she was pregnant.
Not everyone will take in a child who is traumatized, fearful and angry, and may act out at home or school. But Costa, who runs the foster care program for JRI, has many such homes he can count on in central and eastern Massachusetts.
Costa marvels at foster parents’ compassion, courage and commitment, especially during a pandemic that has limited in-person schooling, halted youth activities and restricted access to the services that foster parents and kids count on.
Those foster parents guide remote learning for challenging children who spent the first months of the COVID-19 lockdown able to see their birth parents only over Zoom. They kept them busy and engaged during the summer, when outdoor get-togethers, camps and other activities were limited, if available at all. They get them the medical care they need even when it means rushing to an emergency room in the middle of the night, risking exposure to the coronavirus. And now they are helping them cope with a new period of restrictions caused by a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
“There has been no opportunity for respite (for these foster parents). They stepped up and didn’t waiver. No one called up and said ‘I resign,’ ” Costa says. “Unbelievable people.”
Costa knows there is no way to repay these foster families for their incredible dedication, but he and JRI want to do something to thank them. To that end, they are raising money to buy gift cards for groceries and gasoline for foster parents “to show how much we appreciate them” and just to make life a little easier for them.
“Some good in the world doesn’t get broadcast as much as it should,” Costa says.
If you would like to help thank the people who open their homes to Massachusetts children in need of someplace safe, secure and compassionate, there are several ways you can help:
• You can make a financial donation to help support foster parents by donating here.
• You can learn about donating supplies and other support that go to our foster parents and children by joining the Foster Friends of JRI Facebook Group.
• And if you are considering becoming a foster parent yourself, you can learn more by visiting our Foster Care webpage.