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Fostering a future: Children in need can have shot at better outcome – with your help

Comfort Case recipients receive a backpack containing the essentials for their first few days in foster care as well as comfort items.

In the darkest moments of life, unexpected pathways often emerge to brighten the worlds of those most in need.

Following the birth of our first child, we experienced secondary infertility like many other families. We always imagined having several children and struggled with the reality of our situation.

Fortunately, a friend asked whether we had ever considered becoming foster parents.

After some initial research, my husband and I decided to attend an informational session hosted by the Children’s Bureau (now Firefly Children and Family Alliance) to learn more, given our limited understanding and education of the foster care system. We were unaware of the magnitude of challenges the children face.

While heading home from the session – despite his initial reservations – my husband was the first to vocalize that “we need to do this.” And with that, our journey began.

We spent a year working through the approval process, ranging from background checks to home visits. Despite the hurdles, we were glad to see such a rigorous process in place to ensure the safety, support and dignity of Indiana’s most vulnerable youth.

Following our approval as foster parents, we were asked to provide short-term child care services for two girls, ages 3 and 8, who had been living with another foster family. We immediately recognized how little they had of their own, including a lack of hygiene items.

A few months later, we received a call from our foster agency asking whether we would consider fostering the 3-year-old, Janiyah, full time.

Janiyah had come to us still suffering from her previous trauma. Her few possessions were delivered to us in a trash bag. As time passed and with structure, love and care, Janiyah began to heal.

After 18 months of hosting Janiyah as our foster child, we were elated to be given the opportunity to adopt her.

In April 2018, we finally had our long-awaited court date. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I could barely speak through my tears when the judge asked why we wanted to adopt her. Following the hearing, we drove to Brownsburg to buy a new home and officially start our new life as a family of four.

Janiyah is now 10 years old, happy and healthy. Thankfully, over time, negative memories of her former life have faded away and she is proud to tell others she was adopted and once lived in foster care.

While I get to support Janiyah at home, I also have the privilege of supporting thousands of other children and young adult Hoosiers in foster care through my work with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Medicaid Health Plan in Indiana.

According to the Indiana Youth Institute’s 2023 Kids Count Data Book and the Indiana Department of Child Services, there are more than 20,000 children just like Janiyah who are currently in need of foster care services across Indiana.

There are many ways to get involved to help address the needs of our most vulnerable youth and ensure they have the love, care and support that they need.

I am proud to work with Comfort Cases, which provides children in foster care with backpacks containing clothing, a blanket, stuffed animal, activity materials and hygiene kits.

Together with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and attendees of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Comfort Cases recently prepared more than 300 backpacks for local children living in foster care.

While the crisis facing children in our communities cannot be solved by one individual, we can all help in some way. We cannot stand by and say, “someone needs to help these children” any longer.

Sometimes, that someone must be you.

Learn more here.

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