Oklahoma DHS Sends Kids 'Home For The Holidays'

Thursday, December 15th 2011, 12:18 am
By: News 9

Havonnah Johnson, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- With overflowing shelters throughout the year, DHS is encouraging responsible adults to welcome a child into their home Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. DHS calls the program "Home for the Holidays."

The program has enjoyed success in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The program is designed to allow volunteers the opportunity to give back, but, ultimately, DHS wants people to think beyond Christmas and become foster parents.

Julie Koiner and her husband, Chris, have five biological children ages six to 14, yet the Koiners believe there could be room for one more. They'll start Christmas Eve by hosting a child in state custody.

"We are going to open some gifts, sing carols, play games, and just be together," Julie Koiner said.

The Koiners underwent a background check and home visit and are pretty excited.

According to DHS, shelters are overflowing with children that have no place to go.

"Our shelters have a wonderful staff that takes great care of kids, but it's a temporary option," Sheree Powell of DHS said.

So is the home for the holidays program, which doesn't permit an overnight visit.

"The children understand that it is just a day visit and they are given the choice to stay at the shelter or if they'd like to go and spend the day with a family," Powell said.

DHS is encouraging volunteers to look past this year and open their hearts and home, like the Koiner's.

"We consider this a stepping stone since we have considered this before we figure this may just be the beginning for us," Koiner said.

For more information on how to become a foster family, visit www.okdhs.org or call 1-866-612-2565.