When you are truly passionate about something, it shines through. Our passion? Supporting the foster children of Arkansas. And that starts with supporting you as a foster parent.
Learn more about what makes our foster services so special as we speak with two incredible foster mothers and our Children’s Services Director, Tim Bordsen.
Tim: “My name is Tim Bordsen and I am one of the Program Directors at Integrity Inc. I have been here since January of 1995 and part of my responsibility is running our Foster Care Program.”
How does Integrity prepare a family for fostering a child in need?
Tim: “Our foster family training is pretty much trauma based training. It’s not specific to just foster kids, it is good for everyone and that’s one thing I tell folks. We have been doing this curriculum since about 2006 or 2007. We were one of the first agencies in the state to start it and now it’s pretty much a mandate.
The foster parents love it. I just finished a class with 12 families, and they are like “oh wow we have already started doing this, I use it on my coworkers at work.” It’s pretty effective once you understand it.
We provide support to them by giving them ongoing training. We have a set of case managers that visit them monthly, at least, in the home. We support our families the first 12 weeks that a child is placed in the home with a weekly visit just to make sure things are starting off well and going well.”
Lorene: “My name is Lorene Funches and I am a foster parent, and I have been fostering over 25 years. I probably have had 75 or more children in and out. You are not left alone, whatever you need all you have to do is tell your case manager and they will help you.”
Tim: “Your case manager basically coordinates services for that family. If the foster parent needs an appointment, they will help them get the appointment and basically serve as a support to the foster parent. Anything they need they will do their best to try to access. Our case managers are on call for our foster families 24/7. If something happens and there is an emergency after hours when you call the answering service or call your case manager, you get the person who knows you and knows your kid so you don’t have to deal with somebody who doesn’t know the situation. We found that that’s a huge support that a lot of families are not used to.”
Joerean: “My name is Joerean Shirlee and I have been fostering for about 28 years. I am a passionate person. A minimum need, or a special need child, it doesn’t matter, I am there. To me it seems that the developmental children have a greater need for that love and care, and I wanted to be that person. With Integrity, I am going to be truthful, and this is a great agency. These people are on point, their support is there, and the resources are there. They play a huge role. Whatever we needed, it was there.”
What advice would you share with a family that are thinking of fostering?
Tim: “I would tell them that there is a need, and if they think that they have something to offer explore that need a little bit and figure out where you fit in the puzzle, because even though we just serve developmentally disabled kids and adults there’s a vast need within that range. We have some kids who are physically fine, that might have an intellectual disability. We have some kids that have severe medical needs. So depending upon what that families comfort range is, there is probably somewhere that they could serve as a foster family. It’s about exploring that and figuring out what’s a good match for them.”
Lorene: “I would tell them first that you really have to think about it and know if it’s really what you want to do. It’s going to be a great experience and you are going to have many challenges, but you have to have that love. You can’t just say you want be a foster parent, you have to have that love and care for a foster child. My husbands background was in medical and we decided that maybe we could take care of children with medical or physical needs. I think it had a great impact on them because it made them feel like they had a family and that they had love and someone to care for them.”
Tim: “There’s an ability to serve based on what your interest and comfort level is. I don’t want to match kids who aren’t a good match for that family, because it is probably going to end in a disruption and that’s not going to serve the kid well, it’s not going to serve the family well, it just creates a lot of problems. A lot of families get into it and they don’t know what they want to do so its an education process. Some families deal better with people with behaviors and some families deal better with total care. The level of commitment is vast, and that’s what I tell families, you have to be in it for the long haul, you have to be willing to commit to that child. If you are, then there is a kid out there who can benefit from being in your home.
I think the general public needs to be aware that the children in this state are vastly underserved when it comes to foster care. Kids are living in facilities that don’t need to be in facilities. There’s no medical reason for them to be there, it’s just that there’s not a place in the community in a home for them to live.
There’s something out there that folks can do, weather it’s with our program or another program, or by not being a foster parent and providing some other sort of service. There’s something out there that everybody can contribute.”
Joerean: “A lot of people probably don’t know, but the support is there. I am always going to brag on Integrity because these people are the best.”
Lorene: “I’m going to do it until the day I can’t do it anymore. It is my passion, to love and care for a child, as long as I can. I have enough love to spread all around.”
Do these testimonials inspire you as much as they inspire us? If so, don’t hesitate. Contact Integrity, Inc. today and make a difference in the life of a foster child by calling (501) 406-0442. We will be there with you every step of the way.