Have you ever thought about opening your Snoqualmie Valley home to a foster child? If so, tonight, from 5PM – 8PM, at Encompass main branch in North Bend, is your chance to start that process. Washington State Foster Home Licensor, Kim Johnson, will offer the first step to becoming a foster family, Foster Care Orientation.
What started out as the personal desire of Snoqualmie Ridge residents, Leilani and Smokey McClure, to adopt a little 4-year-old boy, turned into a passion to inspire others to care for at-risk children in Washington state; children in need of short-term, sometimes long-term or adoptive homes.
Leilani and her husband learned of a 4-year-old boy who, although was living with a great-aunt, was a foster child in need of a long-term home – a “forever family.” His birth parents had their parental rights terminated and this great-aunt did not want to adopt him. Leilani said they found that it wasn’t as easy as just wanting to adopt a child from the state system. They first had to be foster licensed. Initially appearing to be a daunting process, she and her husband were motivated to tackle it.
Leilani explains, “We knew that we could provide this child with the unconditional love he needed and that we had a place that he could call home; his 6th and last home. Two years later, we not only adopted him, but have provided a temporary save home for four other foster children.”
There are nearly 10,000 children in foster care in Washington State, with only 1/3 of them being cared for by relatives. That leaves over 6,000 foster children in homes of unrelated caregivers. More than 1/3 of them have been in foster care for longer than two years. One is six foster kids will live in three or more homes during the first year and over 400 children “age out” of foster care (turn 18 without being adopted or being reunited with their birth families) each year.
This is the type of data Leilani discovered during the foster-licensing process; data that inspired her to encourage others to open their homes and hearts to these children.
There are nowhere near enough families to provide loving, caring homes for these children who come from a world of neglect and abuse. Leilani describes the Snoqualmie Valley as a perfect and wonderful place to welcome these kids. She adds, “We tend to take for granted the safe, family focused neighborhoods that we live in here in the valley – a world completely foreign to some of the children in state foster care. Why not share this with them? If even for a short time or forever?”
Leilani has also reached out to the valley’s child-focused businesses to bring awareness about area foster kids. Snoqualmie’s DMW Martial Arts is an example of a local business who welcomed and provided support for foster kids looking to participate in fun sports – just like any other kid.
The McClure’s own child, Isaiah, is now enjoying and active in his Snoqualmie Valley life. He’s a competitive member of the Snoqualmie Valley Wrestling Club and attends Summit Classical Christian School in Fall City. He’s also been an amazing foster-brother to the four other foster kids that have shared his home.
To become foster licensed home, those interested must first attend Orientation, a 3-hour informative meeting taught by a Washington State Department of Licensing Foster Home Licensor, where the licensing process and requirements are presented. Attendees leave with a full licensing packet, including application and forms necessary to complete the process.
It’s been Leilani’s desire to bring all the training necessary to become a foster parent out to the Snoqualmie Valley, making it easier for those interested to become licensed. Her desire is turning into reality this evening.
Tonight, August 28th, from 5PM – 8 PM, DLR licensor Kim Johnson, will conduct a Foster Care Orientation at Encompass in North Bend at 1407 Boalch Ave NW. For more information on this Orientation and how to become foster care licensed, please contact Leilani McClure, Foster Parent Recruiter Liaison for Fostering Together at 425-681-2094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.