Advocates are asking more Mississippians to consider becoming foster parents. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
Each day, the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services refers new children to be removed from their homes and placed into a therapeutic foster care program. Therapeutic foster care is needed when the child has severe mental and emotional health needs or severe behavioral health needs such as seven-year-old Stella.
LuTaya Stewart is her therapeutic foster mother.
"When I first met my current foster child, she was not talking. She was mimicking like animal noises, but she could not express herself. She was non-verbal. She was not potty-trained and she was almost four," said Stewart.
Stewart says the child's mother is mentally ill and Stella was neglected growing up.
Toni Fletcher with Canopy Children's Solutions says the need for therapeutic foster parents is increasing in Mississippi. At an open forum today in Jackson, she hopes to get as many prospective parents listed in the program as possible.
"My goal right now is at least 10 families for the therapeutic foster care. Because out of the 5500 children that's in the state of Mississippi in foster care, those children have suffered some kind of traumatic event in their life, said Fletcher.
After four years in therapeutic foster care, Stewart says Stella is forming complete sentences. She loves people and she is fascinated with building blocks.
"I'm looking towards Stella becoming an independent adult and becoming a professional. What profession? I don't know. Right now it's looking like architectural or something because she likes to build things," said Stewart.
A mental health background is not needed to become a therapeutic foster parent. More information about becoming a therapeutic foster parent is available at mycanopy.org. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.