According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), nearly half a million children were in foster care in 2016. As alarming as this statistic may be, the National Youth Advocate Program (NYAP) is giving you a chance to be a part of the solution and to help the future of our community’s youth.
Through NYAP, prospective foster parents in Ohio, as well as nine other states, can find cost-effective and community-based outlets for our at-risk youth to help them both grow as individuals and as families. NYAP began as a Youth Advocate Program in Van Wert, Ohio, in 1978 by founder Dr. Mubarak Awad, with his vision of preserving and unifying families and strengthening the communities.
What does the NYAP do
The goal of a foster parent, according to NYAP, is to reunify the youth with their family after the child finds himself or herself in no-fault circumstances, such as abandonment or neglect. This presents an opportunity to an interested parent to take in the child until the family and child are ready to reunite. However, there are instances when the lifestyle conditions of the birth parents are not ideal. In those cases, NYAP provides professional assistance to those parents to help devise an adoption plan, as seen below.
These programs cater to each individual based on their needs and preferences, i.e. substance use treatment, family advocacy, outpatient mental health.
Family Preservation Services
These programs prevent out-of-home placement and the reunification of foster children to return home.
Sometimes, families aren’t able to provide care for their children for reasons beyond their control. This is when emergency shelters, respite care and therapeutic short-term foster care can serve as a temporary solution until the foster children can return to their families.
These programs increase the likelihood of lifelong placement for foster children or to support reunification with their families, i.e. adoption, family engagement services, and visitation.
In the shoes of a foster parent
Several years ago, foster parents from Northwest Ohio took the leap of faith to begin their journey to become foster parents. “Making a decision to become a foster parent was easy,” a participating foster parent shared. “However, nothing could prepare me for the roller coaster and life-changing events to come along the way. I am definitely grateful for the support that NYAP offers me and my family, and the youth that we have been blessed with in our home.”
Becoming a foster parent is not an overnight decision — it is one that requires careful consideration. While fostering will ultimately help the child, it is important to review the seven-step process, provided by NYAP, to help determine your eligibility, as well as your emotional and financial readiness.
“At the end of the day, we strive to ensure our foster youth and foster parents have the necessary tools to be able to successfully achieve the goals they set for themselves,” adds Adam Nolan, LSW, bridges supervisor and treatment coordinator for NYAP.
Learn more about how to become a foster parent at nyap.org.
Local opportunities to foster
Though Lucas County Children’s Services is a very different organization than NYAP, it is an excellent avenue toward becoming a foster parent.
“Our goal is to lead the community in the protection of children,” says Julie Malkin, Director of Communications and Government Relations at LCCS.
“We do that by working with a variety of different partners including the courts and law enforcement to ensure children are not victims of abuse and neglect.
Foster care is very much needed in this community because we have families who present with problems that affect the well-being of their children. Someone has to be there to ensure children are safe and cared for.”
Malkin adds that LCCS has about 200 foster homes and they could use many more, as there is a shortage across the nation. You can learn more about how to become a foster parent through LCCS on their website.