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More than 8,400 Massachusetts children are in foster care, and the need is growing as the financial and emotional strain of the Covid-19 pandemic and the state’s opioid crisis continue to take a toll on children and families.
Listen to Bob Costa, program director for JRI's Intensive Foster Care program, and Courtney Edge-Mattos, who is the senior home finder for the program, talk about Justice Resource Institute’s foster care program. The program oversees foster families who provide care for children whom the state’s Department of Children and Families and the state’s court system have found are in imminent danger because of challenges in their permanent homes.
That trouble may range from domestic violence to sexual abuse to drug addiction; and the foster care program provides a temporary stay with foster families while troubles are addressed in their permanent homes. The goal in each case is to reunite children with their birth parents or relatives, and foster parents often maintain close contact with children and their families after they are reunited. That is because children need a permanent relationship with at least one trusted adult, says Costa.
Often that permanent relationship is with foster parents who “stand in the gap” for traumatized children in need of temporary care, said Edge-Mattos. Those children undergo state-required training, plus JRI’s specialized training in working with traumatized children. JRI provides support for their foster parents, providing money for school clothing and holiday gifts, in addition to the state’s daily stipend. In addition, a group called the Foster Friends of JRI, which has a Facebook page, often provides additional support for children and foster parents.
The JRI Intensive Foster Care program has foster homes available for LGBTQ+ children, and Costa says the Intensive Foster Care program is seeking foster parents to help serve the growing need for foster care.
If you are interested in learning more about the program or if you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, visit jri.org/fostercare