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Open your heart and home to a child in need - The Galveston County Daily News : Galveston

September 20, 2014

Open your heart and home to a child in need

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Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 1:30 pm, Fri Jun 13, 2014.

The Children’s Center Inc. in Galveston has been part of a legacy of hope for island children that began in 1878. Though the name and face of the organization have changed through the years, the mission of sheltering and nurturing children in need has remained consistent.

They cannot do this without the help of the community, whether it be a donation of money or goods, or volunteering to be a foster family.

One of the programs most in need of loving families is Transitional Foster Care. Families who volunteer for this program must have at least one bilingual member, as most of the children in need are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“There are so many more kids trying to escape from danger and poverty in their home countries,” said Carla Reid-Martinez, associate director for the Basic Center Program at The Children’s Center. “As the number of kids have expanded coming across the borders, the need to take care of them has expanded as well. These are good kids who need a safe place to stay while their case manager finds family in the U.S. who can sponsor them.”

Children are typically only placed in Transitional Foster Care for an average of 25 days while permanent placement is sought.

Families who volunteer receive bi-weekly payments for their care in fostering a child or children.

Lizzette Castillo, a Galveston resident, has been a foster parent in The Children’s Center Kinship Program for the past two years. Castillo, a single mom of a 15 year old daughter, said the transition of having two young children join their household was a bit challenging, but more than worth it.

“I became involved because I had relatives that became foster children,” Castillo said. “It’s taken some time to adapt, but it’s been a nice reward. At the end of the day, I look at the kids and the only thing I can think of is that when they grow up, they’ll know that we were there for them when nobody else was. We are making it possible for them to experience stability, family, a normal home, different activities that they probably never would have been able to do.”

For families who don’t plan on having more children but still want to make a difference in someone’s life, Castillo said foster parenting is a great way to do it.

“This is a great opportunity to make a difference,” she said. “The kids see that and appreciate that. They see this love that you are offering, and they’ve never experienced that. To me, that’s the best thing a child can be able to get. If we can as parents offer that to children who need it, that’s the best reward you can get.”

Traditional Foster Care and Primary Medical Needs Homes are also in need of volunteer families. To learn more about becoming a foster family, contact The Children’s Center at 281-282-1301 or visit them online at www.thechildrenscenterinc.org.

Become a Foster Parent

To become a foster parent, there are 5 basic requirements:

1. You must be a legal U.S. resident.

2. You will need to complete an application, undergo a background check and provide three personal references.

3. You must have sufficient space, be able to provide a safe home environment and have the support of family.

4. You must be willing to cooperate with state, federal and agency policies.

5. You must be willing to open your heart and your home to a child in need of supportive housing and care.