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Fostering Hope open house set for today in Buckhannon

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes The Upshur County Commission recently proclaimed May as Foster Care Awareness Month in Upshur County. Left to right, are commission president Sam Nolte, commissioner Kristie Tenney, Upshur County Family Resource Network director Lori Ulderich Harvey and commissioner Terry Cutright.

BUCKHANNON — Families, couples or singles interested in fostering and adopting are invited to an open house today at the Buckhannon Public Safety Complex, 22 S. Florida St., from 6 to 8 p.m.

Lori Ulderich Harvey, director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network, presented information at last week’s Upshur County Commission meeting as they proclaimed May Foster Care Awareness Month.

There are more than 7,000 children in foster care in the Mountain State – a number which has increased by 1,000 each year the last two years.

“In Upshur County, we went from 51 to 137 (foster children) which is 168.6 percent increase,” Harvey said. “If you count the 14 private, three DHHR homes and the 12 kinship that are just recorded, that was up by 140 percent.”

Upshur County has grown the number of foster homes available through word of mouth and a push by the Upshur County Family Resource Network in recent years.

Of the eight counties who reported in a nine-county region, Harvey said there were 1,088 kids in foster care and 372 homes.

“We have 34 percent of our kids covered,” she said. “The rest are just waiting. The numbers are staggering.”

However, Harvey said there are some misconceptions about who may foster and adopt that need to be overcome.

“Single, co-habitating, same-sex, divorced – they can all foster and adopt,” she said. “There needs to be more awareness on that.”

She also wants to educate people about what can be done to help foster children who age out of the system but may still need support.

“A lot of people think ‘you are 18; you are an adult; see ya,'” she said. “You can take care of yourself, you know how to do everything, you don’t need a safety net, nothing.”

“Even if families can just take in a senior in high school and stick with them while they are starting college or starting their life, it can be a help,” she said. “If you think about whenever you went out on your own, you still had this net behind you, this support network and they don’t have that.”

For more information, contact Mission West Virginia at 304-562-0723 or email fosteradopt@missionwv.org.

“You contact them and you get an information guide, then you contact agencies and get certified,” she said. “Then, congratulations, you are a foster parent.”

Harvey is also working with Sarah Campbell, executive director at the Upshur County Senior Year, to start a Grand Families program through West Virginia State University. “The grandparents would be invited to attend sessions on communication, parenting in the 21st century, self-care, nutrition, navigating the legal system. We are identifying people in our county that can come and do those classes.”

In June, UCFRN and Partners in Prevention will be starting a foster care and adoption support group.

In other business, the commission:

• voted to table any revisions to the Upshur County Floodplain Ordinance at this time. The commission recently voted to begin charging a fee, but county administrator Carrie Wallace said that the state may have more changes in the coming months and if the commission waited all the changes could be made at once.

• approved the donation of 10 one-day pool passes for a regional livestock clinic.

• approved the use of the pavilion June 24-28 for the Cloverbud 4-H day camp and the use of the pool for one hour each afternoon with the fees waived.

• approved $1,500 from the spay and neuter account to match grant funding Animal Outreach Project Inc. received to spay and neuter animals.

• tabled a request from Corridor H Authority to contribute $5,000 until January 2020 to see how the county’s budget will be at that time.

• approved the advertisement of two part-time court security positions to begin July 1. The applications will be due by May 14.

• approved the following seasonal employment of B-U Pool Facility to begin on or around May 12 and end on or around Aug. 17: Melanie Sandy-Groves $25 per water aerobics session; Elizabeth Harris, assistant manager at $10.20 per hour; Renee Carr, assistant manager at $10.71 per hour; lifeguard Ivy Ward at $9.54 per hour; lifeguard Taylor Powell at $9.35 per hour; lifeguard Stephen Groves at $9.23 per hour; admissions worker Kalen Harley at $9.23 per hour; lifeguard Emma Reger at $8.93 per hour; admissions worker Andrew Burgess at $8.93 per hour; concessions worker Andrea Burgess at $8.93 per hour; lifeguards Samuel Squires , Samuel Walker, Merrody Malone and Drew Griffith at $8.93 per hour; lifeguard/admissions worker McKenzie Reynolds at $8.93 per hour; lifeguards Olivia Caynor, Summer Aguiar and Jennifer Williams at $8.75 per hour; admissions worker Jenna Marple at $8.75 per hour; lifeguard Drake Lemansky at $8.75 per hour; and concessions worker Racheal Hulett at $8.75 per hour.

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