News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Volunteers needed to support foster youth

Linn County Communications Officer

Linn County Communications:

Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc. (GOBHI), an Oregon nonprofit group, is looking for volunteers to be full-time and relief care foster homes.

All youth in foster care need a safe and loving home, but some youth need more because of past trauma and behavior patterns that don’t fit within their current lives. They may need short-term support or the help of additional support not available in a traditional foster home.

That’s where the GOBHI’s Therapeutic Foster Care program comes in. The program offers therapeutic support for foster youth throughout Oregon using a trauma-informed approach grounded in Collaborative Problem Solving®. The aim is to guide each youth seamlessly back to their family of origin, traditional foster care, an adoptive resource, or transition into independent living with the resilience and personal growth necessary to become healthy adults.

GOBHI regularly faces placement challenges due to a lack of both full-time and relief care foster homes, especially for teens.

The need is high. In 2021, Child Welfare reported Linn County supported 240 children.

Adam Rodakowski, director of Foster Care at GOBHI, added, “The latest numbers from Child Welfare indicate that 16 youth from Benton, Lincoln, and Linn counties are currently in residential group or institutional care. Many are placed outside of their home community because there aren’t foster homes available. Our goal is to add at least eight more homes to support bringing these kids back to their community.”

Fostering is a demanding commitment, but the rewards of interrupting generational trauma and aiding children as they grow toward their best selves are immeasurable. Because this kind of care is focused and goal oriented, the typical length of full-time GOBHI placements are typically six months to two years.

Part-time (or respite) foster care placements, which allow more flexibility than full-time care and is a vital resource for our other foster parents, typically last 2 to 14 days. GOBHI youth range from ages 4 to 17.

“The important thing is that kids can enter a home where they feel loved, respected, and free to be themselves,” said Lanie Smith, a Regional Child Placement Coordinator with GOBHI.

“Our foster families are part of the kiddo’s therapeutic care team, so we do our best to give them the training and support they need to effectively coach a child through every challenge or struggle they face.”

GOBHI supports their foster families on this journey, providing specialized training with individual, group, and online opportunities to prepare foster parents for what will be asked of them, including 24/7 on-call support, two paid days off per month for full-time homes, and other support.

Potential foster parents from all walks of life, and areas of Oregon are encouraged to apply. Visit gobhi.org/fc or call 541-298-2101 to learn more.

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