By Valarie Waddle
Human relationships and a sense of belonging are among the most important factors in resilience and self-worth in children. In fact, research has shown that children who have even one meaningful relationship with a trusted adult can have positive, and lifelong, effects on developing children. For many children, this relationship will be with a biological or “bonus” parent. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
New Mexico currently has 2,250 children in foster care or protective service placement. These children and adolescents are among the most vulnerable youth across the state, increasing their need for positive parental figures and meaningful relationships. Eddy County currently hosts approximately 75 children in foster homes throughout Carlsbad, Artesia, and Loving with an additional 21 children in other facilities. Fostering children requires a special kind of person, someone willing and able to provide a loving environment to a child (or often multiple children) who may not believe they are worthy of such love.
CYFD County Office Manager Maria Calderon states, “We have good people in place as foster parents, they are willing to work with us as a team to provide these kids with the best possible chance of success. The red tape involved in the licensing process to be a foster parent can be daunting.” Foster parents are routinely monitored and assessed, an intensive process for all parties involved, to ensure these youth are receiving the best possible care.
CYFD Placement Supervisor Staci Compton, recognizes the additional challenges presented by COVID-19. “Providing supplies for our foster families was such a struggle during the early phases of COVID. We needed diapers, wipes, formula, hand sanitizer, even PPE and there was none to be found. Thank goodness for donors like Faith, Hope & Love and West Main Baptist in Artesia for helping to get our families what they needed.” Calderon and Compton agree that the generosity of our community, businesses and private individuals, has made it possible to support these families during these trying times.
Calderon states “Carlsbad and Artesia are very giving, we are very blessed. Not many communities are as fortunate to have such support for the foster families. Our local businesses are a huge asset to these kids.” Additionally, the support of Mayor Dale Janway is appreciated by the local CYFD office. Mayor Janway participates in the annual Walk Against Child Abuse, National Adoption Day, and most recently, the Foster Parent Appreciation Parade. Mayor Janway, accompanied by Cheyanne Methola and Valeria Quezada, attended the event and presented each of the 18 attending foster families with a token of appreciation.
The Protective Services Division of CYFD hosted the parade in lieu of the previously planned appreciation banquet, in accordance with state restrictions on mass gatherings. Families drove through the aisle of decorated cars, with CYFD personnel cheering and honking in appreciation of there service to Eddy County’s foster youth. Though fundraising was not possible for the event, CYFD provided each family with a small gift to show their appreciation, as well.
Calderon reiterates her appreciation of foster parents stating, “These parents deserve so much more than what we can give them.” With the majority, approximately 75%, of foster homes being those of family members or “fictive kin”, there is a great need for foster parents across the state. CYFD encourages any interested families to contact the local office, or apply online to be a foster parent.