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Alternative Mother’s Day: Nurturing Foster Parents and Children

March 16, 2011

After the critical decision has been made, pre-screenings passed, training programs completed, and a bed or crib has been made, enthusiastic foster parents are ready to welcome a child into their home – and into their hearts.  For the youngsters seeking a compassionate caregiver, this too is a joyous moment.  Lingering, however, is the reality of understanding, then meeting a foster child’s demanding needs, which undoubtedly challenge a parents’ patience and energy.

AltMothersDay is an event aiming to recharge some of the depleted gusto of underserved Los Angeles County foster mothers (and fathers). There are approximately 68,000 children living in California foster care, at any given time, and over 15,000 currently reside in Los Angeles County.  This May 8th, dkkevents hopes to recreate the success of our first Mother’s Day celebration (and debut ‘second-day’ event) by honoring 1800 foster parents and children with an extravagant carnival style day of fun and feasting.

For first time foster parents, being ready for parenthood is measured on a sliding scale. For those participating in foster parenthood as a career, an opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation is a welcomed treat.  As with any child, there are individual personalities to consider, however, many of the 3-18 year olds entering foster care have suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect or abandonment, and alcohol or drug issues, which lead to added behavioral concerns.  Foster Parent Certification through agencies like the Foster Family Care Network offer assistance through 24-hour crisis response, child care during parenting courses, respite caregivers for personal free time, foster care support groups, and tax-reimbursement for certain care.

As a parent, one is charged with shaping the morals, manners and psyche of a precious new being.  In the case of foster children, their biological parents in some way neglected to fulfill these agreements.  A child’s life and wellbeing were not respected. Organizations like the Family Nurturing Center understand how crucial it is “to offer a family- based comprehensive program to teach nurturing parenting,” because “little to no emphasis is placed on assessment of parenting attitudes or child-rearing practices” for new foster parents.  Dismissive parenting (to the extreme) was the basic reason for a child’s placement into foster care in the first place.  Doesn’t it then seem necessary to take steps to ensure a child is in a nurturing environment the second time around?

Prevention is an arguable solution to many an issue, and in the case of the approximately 513,000 displaced foster kids in the United States, it is essential.  Nurturing Parenting appeals to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect through a Nurturing Skills Parenting Program that emphasizes ’18 parenting competency areas’, for example, discipline, growth and development of children, alternatives to spanking, developing empathy, etc.

In the spirit of second chances, I feel it is important to acknowledge the members of our community who have chosen the nurturing role of a foster parent.  With the help of Gateways Hospital of Echo Park, this Mother’s Day extravaganza will recognize foster parents for their admirable effort in raising children who have been forgotten gifts to society. A Second Day event such as this one, collects materials and equipment from high-end private parties for reuse and redistribution at an alternative event.  But a celebration this grand cannot be accomplished purely on recycled goods.  AltMothersDay is inviting the community to return to the essence of mother’s day, and asking for generous contributions made in love.  A special feature on the website this year is a $20 donation option for teens to make a contribution on their mother’s behalf, and then download a certificate to present to her on Mother’s Day.

May is National Foster Care Month and as many others salute those working towards bettering a child’s life, I hope you will too.  For foster mother’s who express compassion and commitment in regular abundance, I encourage you to take this Mother’s Day to join me in a expressing a heartfelt THANK YOU!

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