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Foster parents urge others to get involved

Officials with the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services, or DCFS, made a special trip to the valley last month to host the Pahrump Foster Care Panel, an open, community discussion regarding the needs and specifics of the foster system in rural parts of the state.

Led by Foster Care Recruiter Shelby Riley, the Foster Care Panel included several speakers who are intimate with the various elements of the foster system. DCFS Manager Michael Cason took part, as did Social Worker Jen Laub, Licensing Worker Ben John-Rose, Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Robert Lane and Pioneer Territory Court Appointed Special Advocates Executive Director Kathie McKenna. From the opposite side of the spectrum, the panelists also included foster parents Sherry Brian and Sam Moore as well as former foster youth Leandra Proulx.

The panel kicked off with a welcome from Riley, who then proceeded to put a variety of prepared questions to the panelists. Offering different perspectives, each of the panelists did their best to provide a comprehensive overview of their role in the foster care system before the floor was opened to questions from the audience.

Perhaps the most touching testimony of the day came from Brian, who said she had only been a foster parent for about a year but already, she has had the pleasure of helping with the reunification of a local family. In fact, she noted, that family was present that morning, a mother, father and youngsters all smiling happily as they observed the event.

With June being National Reunification Month, Brian emphasized the importance of striving to build a relationship not just with the foster youth themselves, but with the family members as well. The ultimate goal is to see that children are placed back with their biological parents or other family following foster care and in Nevada, that outcomes occurs about 54% of the time.

“Their case is going to close on Tuesday, which is amazing,” Brian said. “So for me, it was really cool to be able to get approval for additional visits, outside of the normal DCFS visits, where they were able to come into our home, we were able to visit their home, we got to go to the Magical Forest around Christmas, we got to do Thanksgiving with them at Mom’s Diner… and we gained a deeper relationship doing that.

“I watched them go from the very beginning stages of their sobriety and all throughout this case, I have watched them gain their home, gain their sobriety even more, jobs, get their toys, their beds,” Brian, a waver of emotion cracking her voice, continued. “I watched this whole thing and it was so cool to watch because I knew the kids were going to go home and be with their mom and their dad. I just knew that they were going to be OK.”

Riley said she was quite pleased with the turnout for the Pahrump Foster Panel and was glad to have been able to host one in Pahrump this year.

“We had a meaningful conversation about many details involving foster care. Participants left informed on the local climate of their foster care system and the many ways they can help,” Riley told the Pahrump Valley Times after the event.

Meant not only as an educational event, the Foster Care Panel was hoped to be a tool for finding a few new fosters in Pahrump, where the need is higher than can be met by the existing seven or so homes available. Fortunately, Riley said that goal was a success, noting, “There were about three couples/individuals who expressed interest in becoming foster parents.”

In addition, some showed a desire to help in other ways. “One individual interested in partnering with DCFS to provide services and others interested in becoming CASAs. There was also one family looking for services that could assist them in kinship care,” Riley detailed.

For more information visit www.RuralNVFosterCare.com and click on the “Get Started” button to create an account or call Riley directly at 888-432-2659.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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