PUBLISHED JUNE 30, 2016
Safe Children’s Coalition helps families but still needs foster parents
By ANDREA SHAY
The Safe Children’s Coalition — a partnership of community-based care organizations — provides for the safety and security of children who have been referred to them by Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), Child Protective Services (CPC) or the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Safe Children’s Coalition serves DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties and is made up of a number of organizations that work together as the SCC. These organizations include the YMCA, Centerstone, Pathways, Youth and and Family Alternatives (YFA), Medical Foster Care (MFC) and Westcoast Access to Children’s Health (WATCH).
Karey Papin works as a nurse for WATCH, which ensures that when children come into foster care they receive the medical supervision that’s required by the state. WATCH also ensures that they receive any necessary follow-up medical care for the duration of the time that they are in care.
Papin said that what the SCC provides for families is monumental. “It’s a safe place, it’s a social system. It’s an honor to work here.”
“You always hear about how social services are broken,” she said. And she goes on to say that people don’t often see the amazing and miraculous stories of children and families healing that they, as workers at SCC, see on a regular basis. “The goals are to return wellness to the family. [We] try to place kids with other family members first before fostering or adoption.”
Papin and her co-worker, Liz Harris, have also seen children with complex issues get adopted, and they’ve seen babies born with drug addictions recover and find adoptive families.
She describes her job as an intake nurse as both busy and rewarding. “The job is always shifting. You never have the same day. You can have tons of children come in and you have to address their needs, and then you have other days [with less activity], and you can address more of the case management aspect of the job.”
While some children in need of fostering or adoption will need ongoing medical care, others simply need a loving home. Children who are born addicted or who have illnesses that require life-long care such as cancer, cerebral palsy or congenital or developmental delays need parents who are able to be responsible for their medical needs and care. These children may have to visit multiple physicians or have multiple surgeries, MRI scans or physical therapies.
The SCC is always looking for foster families, both for children who need medical foster families and for those who don’t need specialized medical care. Papin seeks to encourage people who have an interest in becoming potential foster parents to take the first steps without worrying that they have to be perfect parents first. “There are a lot of preconceived notions about what you need to be a parent, and mostly what a lot of these kids need is someone to love them,” she said.
To find out more about becoming a foster parent or providing other assistance to the Safe Children’s Coalition, call 1-866-661-5656, or visit safechildrencoalition.org/help.