There are no Oscars types of awards ceremonies for good parenting.
But if there were, the foster parent category likely would bring out the tears on an annual basis.
There’s something special about people who step up to put someone else before themselves, and in St. Joseph more of those parents are needed, according to an official with Cornerstones of Care.
“Right now there are over 100 children in Buchanan County in the foster care system and unfortunately we only have about 50 foster homes,” CEO Denise Cross said. “These are our neighbors, these are folks that we work with, folks that we go to church with, you know, they’re our neighbors, and they need our help and that’s what we try to do every day.”
Cornerstones of Care began a few years back in St. Joseph, but the organization stepped up its efforts a year ago with the program of intensive family reunification services.
The goal is helping families overcome obstacles so their children can grow up in a healthy environment.
“They have some kind of stress or something has happened where maybe the safety of the child is a concern,” Cross said, “so we go in and we work with the parents or the caretaker very intensively to help mediate whatever the issue may be.”
Some of those stressors have been lost jobs, mental health circumstances and various other factors that put pressure on families.
Typically a concerned community member notifies Missouri’s child abuse and neglect hotline (800-392-3738), and after the state investigates and deems it appropriate, Cornerstones of Care staff work on a plan to hopefully improve the situation.
The nonprofit agency also helps children who are transitioning out of foster care into their adult lives.
“So a couple other things that are important, especially for those older youth, a mentor relationship – someone who is really willing to spend time with youth and be a consistent adult in their lives, even when they are no longer in foster care,” Cross said.
That relationship can pay dividends on creating a beneficial social network, which also can act as a safety net throughout life.
The Cornerstones of Care office is located in the former Light and Power Building in Downtown St. Joseph on Francis Street.
The agency’s Kansas City office will be hosting a virtual trivia night on Aug. 7. Find more information about the fundraiser or the agency in general at cornerstonesofcare.org.