Foster Care Crisis Looms For County

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
The Boyd house in Warsaw is rarely quiet as Crystal and Daryl are raising not only their own children but several foster children as well.  Presently there are six children in the Boyd home but that number can change at a moment’s notice.
“After Daryl and I were married we considered fostering a child with the hope of adopting, however, when we started the fostering process we discovered there was a very great need for foster parents so we opened our door,” Crystal said. 
The Boyds have been foster parents for ten years and during that time 21 children have called the Boyd house home.
“We mainly have babies and toddlers,” said Crystal.  “The oldest child we have fostered was eight.”
Of the children they have fostered, the Boyds have adopted a daughter Alyssa, 9, and a son Eli, 7 to add to their family which includes a daughter Abby, 19, and a son Alec, 15.
After adopting, the Boyds considered ending their roles as foster parents, but the calls kept coming and it was impossible for Crystal and Daryl to say no.
“We already had a full house with our four children, but it was so hard to say no when we were asked if we could take in more children for a short time,” said Crystal.
That short time is usually two to three years according to Crystal.
The Boyds are in the Jackson County loop of the Foster Care System and Crystal said that she receives up to five e-mails a day about children needing placement.
“When we started ten years ago, there weren’t many babies in the system, but now we seem to have a baby in the house all the time,” said Crystal.  “We have had as many as eight which is really all the room we have in the car and the house.”
While a child is at the Boyd house, they try to help parents stay connected with their child with supervised visits.
In addition to being parents to six, Crystal is a fifth grade teacher at Warsaw North Elementary School and Daryl works at Ozark Fire Protection.
According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, there are over 13,000 children in foster care in Missouri; 1,500 of these children have no identified adoptive parents.
Children in foster care range in age from 0 to 21 and frequently have siblings who must remain together. More than half are of minority decent. Some of these children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities ranging from mild to severe. Children enter foster care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. All have endured the trauma of being separated from their families. Just as each child is an individual, the challenges in meeting their needs will vary, but they all need patience, understanding and unconditional love.
Christina and Robert Red Wing of Warsaw also entered into the foster care system wanting to adopt.
“I have always wanted children in my life,” explained Christina.  “I hoped to have biological children but when that didn’t work out for us, we researched fostering a child.”
The Red Wings went through foster parent training through Southwest Missouri Baptist Children Convention in Buffalo.  They attended 30 hours of training as well as a one day class in Respite training.
“There is a great need for individuals who are willing to become Respite Caregivers,” said Christina.  “Respite parents are those willing to take a child for a short time to give foster parents a break.”
When foster parents have a child in their home they cannot leave that child with a babysitter unless that person has been through Respite training. 
The Red Wings became foster parents to a high school girl who needed a place to go for a short time. 
“Different people would tell me that my heart would be broken when our foster child left, but I said, ‘My heart has been broken before so I can take it,’” Christina said.  “It was a blessing to know that we helped when she really needed us.  We are still in contact with her even though she is now grown and out on her own.”
Later two sisters were placed with the Red Wings as foster children.  Marymae, 10 years old, and Cheylynn, 7 years old, had been in the Missouri Foster Care system for three years.  For a while the girls were only able to stay with the Redwings on the weekends and while they loved any time they could spend together, the caseworker noticed how the girls didn’t want to leave their new parents and allowed the girls to move to Warsaw sooner than expected.  Then on August 24, 2017, the adoption was finalized.  No more visits, no more going through a caseworker to see their girls, they were officially a family.
“I thought that I could be a blessing to these girls,” said Robert, “but it turned out that I was the one who was blessed to be their father.”
While Christina  believed Marymae and Cheylynn were always supposed to be their children, she has received calls from the Missouri Division of Family Services asking if they would like to foster again. 
“It breaks my heart to have to say no, but we really do not have room for more in our house,” said Christina.
To be a foster parent a candidate must:
Be at least 21 years of age
Complete a child abuse/neglect check and criminal record check including fingerprints
Be in good health, both physically and mentally
Have a stable income
Be willing to participate in and complete a free training and assessment process
Be part of a professional team willing to voice perspectives and concerns
Be willing to partner with the child’s family
In order to learn more about becoming a foster parent, contact the Children’s Division for Benton and Hickory Counties, J. J. Mooneyham/CD sup at 417-743-6491 ext. 238.
Those who cannot become foster parents can also help children in the foster care system in other ways. Some of these include:
Hold luggage/backpack drive
Tutor or mentor children/youth
Provide respite care
Provide special holiday help
Make a monetary donation for things foster children or families may need. This could include items like:  
New glasses, new shoes or clothes for school, school pictures, haircuts, hair and/or nail services for prom, yearbook, class ring, graduation cap and gown, prom dress or tuxedo rental, sports equipment or uniforms, or extracurricular or summer activities
Donate items for children and youth. This could include items like:
Children’s books, school supplies, musical instruments, new items such as underwear, socks, coats, or earrings, phone cards for youth to stay close to family, treats for a child to distribute at school on special occasions, fingernail polish, or makeup
Donate items for foster families. Items may include:
Laundry detergent, fabric, softener, bedding, toothbrushes, deodorant, hair care supplies, Christmas ornaments, or gift certificates for a resource family night at a local restaurant or at the movies