Garfield County foster homes offer safe haven for area youth | AspenTimes.com
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Garfield County foster homes offer safe haven for area youth

Matt Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

For over a decade, foster families throughout Garfield County have provided so much more than mere shelter to displaced children.

They have also shown compassion and offered hope to kids experiencing hardship at home.

“There was a need to grow a foster program so that we could keep our children and youth in our county,” said Susan Garcia, Garfield County foster care adoption supervisor. “Foster homes provide a safe haven and structure for children and youth when their birth families cannot.”

Garcia said the county’s foster care program tries to avoid having children removed from their homes by offering support services to families experiencing difficult circumstances.

“Our goal with foster care is to always work with the birth families … to have their children remain with them,” Garcia said. “That’s our first priority.”

In the event that a child is removed from his or her home, the county will attempt to locate a close relative for the child to stay with temporarily.

However, if another family member cannot help, the county will place the child with a local, foster family.

At times, as many as 50 children can be in need of foster families in Garfield County.

According to foster care coordinator Lindsay Zimmer, currently, the county has 16 foster families it coordinates with to assist children.

Zimmer hadn’t noticed a significant influx in the number of children in need of foster families during the pandemic.

However, Zimmer also said the county was always recruiting foster families, particularly those able to assist older children.

“Generally, our need is always for the older kids,” Zimmer said. “The middle school, the high school age range.”

Residents interested in becoming foster parents should contact Garfield County Human Services at 970-945-9191 in Glenwood Springs and at 970-625-5282 in Rifle.

“There is a pretty lengthy process to become a foster parent,” Zimmer said.

The application process can take between 60 and 90 days and includes extensive interviews, hours of training, health evaluations and reference checks, Zimmer said.

In some cases a child might live with a foster family for the weekend and in other instances, years.

Erin, who could not provide her last name due to privacy concerns, has been a foster parent in Garfield County for the last three years and in that time has fostered seven children.

“Foster care has tough moments,” Erin said. “But it also has incredibly beautiful, wonderful moments that will change your life and make you a better person.”

mabennett@postindependent.com


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