The Foster Parent Networking Group exists to recruit, equip, connect and retain foster parents in Fountain and Warren counties, said Sherry Jones, one of the organizers of the group.

It’s to help parents foster with a sense of vision and community. 

“To do that we meet monthly to talk about relevant topics and give space and time to build relationships among foster parents so they can know that they are not alone on this challenging and rewarding journey,” she said.

The Foster Parent Networking Group meets at West Central Correctional Office, at 119 Main in Veedersburg, from 6-8 p.m. on the first Monday of most months.  

“The discussion with our guest speaker will be about one hour, from 6-7, with time for questions and answers, and then the last hour will be for the foster parents to discuss how this topic impacts them personally and to share ideas and ‘network’ with one another,” Jones said.

Last month the group began a series to help foster parents understand the different roles that impact a child in foster care. 

When a child becomes a CHINS (a child in need of services), “An explosion of voices speak into their lives and play a role in determining their future. What can we gain as foster parents by understanding all of these different players? We can know our role better, become a more connected and knowledgeable part of the team, and contribute to a better coordination of services. For a season, we are the child’s family, and we need to understand all of the angles that impact their lives so that we can provide the best trauma-informed love, care and stability in our homes.”

Some of the different perspectives the group hopes to explore includes case managers, CASA representatives, school counselors, visit facilitators, court professionals, therapists, health care providers, biological/kinship family members, former foster youth (adults who can share their personal story), and siblings in a foster home (biological/adopted children whose parents are also foster parents).

“Our first session with a walk in their shoes went great. We had a full house.”

General questions for panelists/speakers: have been: 

— Can you briefly describe your training and role as it pertains to children in need of services?

What led you to pursue this role?

— How can foster parents work more collaboratively with your profession?

— Can you share some positive experiences of working with foster parents? What has worked particularly well?

— What specific advice do you want to share with foster parents?

— What do you want us to understand from your perspective?

The next meeting will be March 5, and it will feature Toni McGowen, executive director of Hope Springs Safe House who has more than 25 years experience working with at risk families primarily in the field of domestic violence.

Then, April 2, the speaker will be Emily Watseka, school counselor for grades 7-9 at Fountain Central Junior Senior High School.

The group also has a story which accepts clothing and shoes to give to foster and adoptive families in placement — Fosters Closet.

It just opened it in Veedersburg and is directly across the street from the group — 109 Second St.