FAMILY

Care Communities pilot program seeks to support foster families across the state

Dec 29, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 8:38 am

a family marches with a utah foster care sign, care communities is a new foster care program...

FILE - Doug and Tammi Sumsion and their two sons Bryson and Tayler join a group Friday, May 9, 2014, marching around the Salt Lake City-County Building to honor foster care families as part of National Foster Care Month. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Foster parents in Utah can take advantage of a new pilot program called Care Communities. The program aims to give people the chance to support foster families in the state.

The Care Communities program was first introduced into the state by Utah’s First Lady, Abby Cox.

Program Director Tami Carson said foster parents face many challenges, but they don’t need to face them alone.

According to Utah Foster Care, 40% of foster parents don’t continue fostering past the first year. Providing more support to foster parents is one way to curb the high dropout rate. 

“The children coming into foster care, the goal is for them to go home to their family, their biological or primary family. And foster parents have to do a lot of extra work to make sure that happens. So this program is an opportunity for religious communities, faith communities, nonprofits or businesses or other social groups to work with us and we give them training and then ongoing support and mentoring,” said Carson. 

How do Care Communities work?

Care Communities are groups that build a team to figure out the best way to serve foster parents. Carson said that most people don’t know just how difficult that parenting role is.

“The demands in your time are higher than traditional parenting … You’re going to relearn a lot about what parenting looks like. Those demands and time really revolve around what the best outcome [is] for these children in the home,” said Carson. 

Additionally, the care teams offer emotional help to foster parents. Carson shared that one infertile couple came to see how their sacrifices not only helped the children they were raising, but their biological parents as well.

“Their hearts completely transformed from a couple who was here because of infertility and now was really here for these kids. And they were willing to do the work over that last year and a half. We will work as hard as possible to help the parents of these children overcome these challenges. All that time providing a loving and stable home for the children that they’re caring for,” Carson said. 

To participate in the program, Utahns can visit the Utah Foster Care website. If you don’t want to be a member of a care team, Carson said you can volunteer to help in other ways.

“Those of us who can’t do that right now, we can’t be foster parents right now or maybe ever, but we can be friends with and learn how to be a very intentional friend for foster families and support the parents and that hard work they’re doing,” said Carson.

The state estimates there are more than 2,600 children currently in foster care in Utah.

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Care Communities pilot program seeks to support foster families across the state