By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
The Archdiocese of Louisville has responded to a call from state leaders to help with a crisis in the foster care system.
According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, more than 9,500 children, ranging in age from birth to 21, are in the state’s foster program. Many of these children have experienced neglect and abuse and some have special needs. The state isn’t equipped to manage that many children and it’s trying to partner with faith communities to cope.
The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Family Ministries Office plans to offer Foster Care Support on Aug. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the community room at St. Michael Church, 3705 Stone Lakes Drive.
Foster parents, people who have adopted foster children and parents who’ve adopted
children internationally are invited to attend.
The “common thread” in those three parenting situations is trauma, said Ed Harpring, pro-life coordinator for the archdiocese.
The upcoming meeting aims to help individuals learn how to care for children who have experienced trauma.
Harpring noted that trauma is common not only for children in foster care, but also among those adopted from foreign countries.
In some orphanages in Russia, for instance, children are “kept alive minimally,” said Harpring, adding that children are sometimes left in cribs for long periods of time and fed once, maybe twice, a day.
This “leaves a mark on a child emotionally,” said Harpring.
During the Aug. 13 meeting, Darren Washausen, executive director of Orphan Care Alliance, will discuss how to care for children who come from traumatic enviroments.
Washausen has biological and adopted children and is trained in helping children heal from trauma, said Harpring. Orphan Care Alliance is a local non-profit that helps connect Christian families with children in the foster care system and those waiting to be adopted.
Harpring noted that the presentation will offer practical information, such as how to cope with behaviors that might be triggered by the stress of returning to school in the fall.
The event also aims to help create a supportive community for families, where they can pray and talk about their faith.
Harpring said he hopes the Foster Care Support group will continue to meet on a monthly basis.
The archdiocese is also looking for volunteers to form a foster care committee that will find ways for parishioners to get involved. For more information, contact Harpring at 636-0296.