Helping families in crisis
February 27, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Discretion, humility and a loving heart are requisite characteristics for one desiring to assist families in need.
Emergency placement care providers provide short-term care to children of families in crisis.
"We're looking for people with big hearts ... not someone doing it solely for the income," said Lois Farmer, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden victim advocate coordinator.
Emergency placement care is a voluntary or court mandated service comparable to civilian foster care programs in the United States where 24-hour care is provided until the situation that warranted the placement is resolved.
"When the door opens, your heart opens," said Jewel Barrett, a provider who has been in child care for more than 10 years. "They become yours automatically.
Wherever you turn, they're there. You become their family."
Though the idea of helping families in need may immediately compel some, potential providers are advised to make thorough assessments before acting on the desire.
"Parents may be gung-ho, but their own children may not be receptive of the new situation," said Farmer who said she once decided against placing a child with a family after observing the response of the provider's children. "It has to really work for the whole family."
Due to the nature of the service, future providers should be aware of the unique challenges associated.
"Immediately, you have to analyze, nurture and reassure," said Barrett about the initial interaction between the provider and a child placed in his or her care. "Not knowing what to expect is the first thing someone just getting involved should understand."
Some children may be handicapped or have severe emotional or behavioral problems.
Other challenges may stem from the child's grasp of the situation. Some children may experience confusion or mental conflict at the details of the situation.
"Sometimes kids can be hard to love because they come from a tough environment. They may be angry or withdrawn," said Farmer.
Children ranging from infant to teenaged can be placed due to reasons varying from medical emergency to rehabilitation to numerous negative circumstances, and all placements are voluntary.
"Many times children are placed so parents can work out more complicated issues," said Farmer, who added that children can be victims of abuse or problems brought on by their own actions.
And while interaction generally occurs directly between the provider and child, parents also reap benefits of the service.
"You're not only there for the child, sometimes the parent learns from the situation," said Barrett.
"One thing to look forward to in life is when you see them later in life. You see your contribution has helped mold them into what they have become. The care you give them remains to impact their lives forever," said Barrett.
To be an emergency care provider you must be older than age 21, in good health and able to accommodate an additional child.