Thousands of Oklahoma children remain in state custody. The Department of Human Services is teaming up with community partners to encourage families to step up and foster a child.
Life.Church is one of those community partners and last May called upon its congregation to answer the call to foster a child. The message was part of the church’s How to Neighbor series, one that Scott and Kylee Corken especially took to heart.
“We've just always wanted to have children in our home and take care of children,” said Kylee Corken, a new foster parent.
The Corkens were among around 2,000 families that stepped up to consider foster care.
“That's exciting,” said Brian Word, an executive campus pastor at Life.Church. “We believe that the local church is the hope of the world and we saw so many people step up and fulfill their call to be able to love on foster care kids and kids just going through a difficult season of life.”
It took about six months to get approved, but once they did, the Corkens got a call within 12 hours that a 3-year-old girl was placed in their home.
“It was so crazy just to see her little face come to my front door and walk in,” said Kylee Corken. “This kiddo, I didn't know anything about her but I loved her.”
Currently there are 9,296 children still in state custody. Child Welfare Services for DHS works with community partners like Life.Church to help recruit foster families.
“If we would come together as communities and wrap our hands around these kids and their families, what we could actually do is cause this problem to diminish in a significant way,” said Deb Shropshire with child welfare services for DHS.
While the state agency is still looking to recruit families, the focus has shifted to a specific type of family.
“We need foster families for older kids, foster families for sibling groups those are sometimes the kids that it's harder to find a home for,” said Shropshire.
For the Corkens, fostering children isn't something they plan to do until they have their own children, it's become a lifestyle.
“Just watching her grow up has been awesome,” said Scott Corken, a new foster parent. “I'm a father so I’m just so proud. It's been a lot of fun.”
“A foster parent's really big job is to let go of that fear of attachment because these kids need somebody to get attached to and to show them what a stable home looks like and to show them what unconditional love and parenting looks like,” said Kylee Corken.
Since last July, 750 new foster homes became available across the state. The need is still great. For more information on how you can become a foster parent, click here: http://www.okdhs.org/services/adopt/pages/childrenneedingadoption.aspx.