May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
May's special issue highlights a higher education program for transitioning youth, a tool for evaluating youth connectedness, and other information about foster care.
The Obama administration remains committed to improving the lives of children in foster care and the futures of youth who may leave foster care without a permanent family.
Sharon took a different path than many other foster parents. For years she worked as a foster care specialist in the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) Developmental Disabilities Services Division, certifying homes and making sure each home was right for each child. Now that she is retired from OKDHS, they call her "Momma Sharon" and she's a foster parent to children with developmental disabilities.
When asked how she handles the challenge of parenting children with special needs, Sharon just smiles. "If it's really what you want to do, it's nothing that you can't handle," says Sharon. "You have to understand that you're not going to change these children's intellect or abilities, you're going to have to change yourself if you're going to do this. I have to say, okay, this is what I'm going to have to do to make this work. It means I have somebody to love—hands on, every day. When my foster child walks through the door, she gives me a smile."
For Sharon, this is the perfect next chapter after a career in human services. "When I retired, I did not want to retire and do the things that old people do. I wanted to retire and still do the things that young people do. I love going to the fair. I love going to the movies, swimming at the Y, and horseback riding. Young people keep you on your feet. I want all those kids to know this: you can always come here and put your head down and rest. You can always eat. You can always have a good time. You can call me if you need me. If I can do it, I will."
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