Standing in the Gap
Through Foster Care
The number is staggering and the need is great.
By Robin Martinez
According to the Children, Youth and Family Department (CYFD), on any given day, approximately 2,300 children are in foster care in New Mexico. For comparison, that’s almost the same number of kids that are enrolled at Rio Rancho High School.
If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, Carol Gloetzner, foster parent support specialist with CYFD, shares her wealth of experience to the following questions.
Q: Who is eligible to become a foster parent?
New Mexico residents, at least 18 years of age and in good health, can apply to become foster parents through CYFD. Interested families and individuals must pass a federal and state fingerprint and criminal record check. Applicants must be willing to attend 32 hours of no-cost training and participate in a home study. Marital status is not a factor, nor is home ownership. Applicants must be able to demonstrate the ability to provide a safe, stable home environment and be committed to caring for children.
Q: How long does the process take, and may I have input into what type of children I’m willing to foster?
The typical time frame from beginning to licensing is four to six months. This includes the time for the required training and background checks. Foster parents can definitely set placement boundaries. Age, health considerations, siblings in the group — each of these factors can play into a foster family’s decision to accept a placement.
Q: What should I consider when weighing the decision to become a foster parent?
There’s a lot to consider! If a co-parent is involved, is he or she on board? What space limitations are present in your home? Where will the children sleep? Are you able to transport them to parental visits, medical and therapeutic appointments, school and court hearings? Can you support the objective of CYFD — reunification with the biological family, if at all possible? Do you have a support team to help with the physical, mental and emotional challenges you will face? How will fostering affect other members of the family, including other children in your home?
Realistic expectations are important. Fostering is not a quick and easy route to building your family through adoption. Instead, foster parents must accept their role to keep the children safe for however long the placement lasts — a few hours, a few days or a lifetime. There are not always happy endings, and the first placement you fall in love with will break your heart when they leave your home.
The rewards can be great! Sticky kisses and wiping tears, seeing progress as a child develops trust or watching the biological parent make wise life choices to change their situation can help offset the challenges.
11300 Lomas Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112
ARCA paces infants and children with disabilities in loving homes.
The Bair Foundation Child & Family Ministries
6121 Indian School Rd. NE, Suite 141
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Provides Christ-centered care and fostering services.
Children, Youth and Family Department
An array of prevention, intervention, rehabilitative and after-care services to children and their families.
Red Mountain Family Services
2001 Spring Dr. SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124
Treatment foster care to children and youth requiring a higher level of intervention and assistance.