theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

April 16, 2014

Looking for good parents

Ada — Ryan Brecheen hops on his motorcycle each work day and goes out looking for foster parents.

 He could use a little help.

 A former middle school coach from Cottonwood near Coalgate, the 34-year-old former educator is now trying to do some family education as a recruiter for The Farm, Inc. (TFI).

 It's a private, non-profit organization that's been around in Kansas and Oklahoma since the mid-60s.

 Brecheen's job is looking for a few good parents, quite a few good parents, as a matter of fact.

 Here's another one of those dismal Oklahoma stats that might just hint at an apathetic attitude toward the plight of children who were “careless enough” to be born to uninterested, or disturbed parents.

 Statistics from last August, according to the Department of Human Services, show only 33 non-kinship foster homes available for placement of Pontotoc County children.

 DHS still handles the investigations, but they have contracts with four companies to recruit, train and maintain foster families

 There were 144 children in out-of-home-care facilities  from Pontotoc County.

 It gets worse. Because of a lack of homes, not just in Pontotoc County, but all over the state, children are not just separated from their parents, they're also separated from their brothers and sisters, their schools, their friends and all that is familiar to them.

 What to do?

 Brecheen and the company he's worked for since last December has a few ideas. DHS, of course, still handles the investigations, kinship homes and adoptions, but they also have contracts with four companies to recruit, train and maintain foster homes in this state.

  This means each foster home now has its own case worker, just as the children have their own case worker. Foster parents who need help will have a 24-hour hotline they can call for answers.

  So what's the problem?

  Part of it, Brecheen says, is bad communication. That's one of the issues that has him out on the state highways and rural roads these days.

 He speaks at just about every civic club gathering that will let him close to their rubber chicken gatherings.

 He speaks and visits with ministers, too, trying to solicit their support. Not so much with dollars but with human blood, sweat and tears, not to mention big hearts.

  He's trying to promote 1-1-1 at the moment. The idea is that if every church in the state of Oklahoma (believed to be about 6,000) could find  one family in its congregation to serve as a foster parent and each church would sponsor that one foster family, then child, foster parent, and church could contribute to putting an end to the foster care problem that plagues the state at the moment.

 Another idea is for the church, that may know someone fostering one child already who might be willing to fostering as many as five children if the church would commit to helping finance the extra children brought into the home.

  Naturally, prospective parents have to pass background checks and complete a Bridge Resource Family Pre-Service Training, a free nine-session training designed to help you understand how to support children in care and build supporting relationships with parents, siblings and kin.

 The home must also pass inspection to ensure it’s a safe and suitable place for children.

  Brecheen  said he feels like if his organization can get people with good values to help these children we can put an end to a lot of future crime and pain in this state.

 Right now he and members of the other three organizations in the state may be a lonely voice in the wilderness, but he belive a lot of good churches with the right heart can help give the state a more promising future.

  "I would like to come and do a short presentation to these places to speak about the issue. He also is asking anyone who knows such a family, or families, to please contact him at 580-927-0591, or at rbreheen@TFIfamily.org.

 To learn more about becoming a foster parents, candidates are asked to call a hotline number: 966-543-9810, or visit the company's website: wwwtfifamilyconnections.org.

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