When it comes to foster care needs in Warren County, the numbers are troubling.
According to the Department of Children’s Services, there are approximately 60 children in foster care from Warren County. Yet there are only four non-relative foster homes in this entire community. The result is children in an already complicated situation have to be uprooted and moved.
“When children come into custody due to dependent or neglected issues, visitation is arranged for the parents,” said Doris Denton, a DCS representative in Warren County. “If the children are not placed in this county, the visitation does occur but it is more difficult. The further away from Warren County, the more barriers arise.”
In an effort to remedy this shortfall, the Central Baptist Association has organized an event this coming Saturday, Oct. 17, at Pioneer Community Church. It’s aimed at providing people with the information they need to start the foster parent process. It will be held in the church gym from noon to 4 p.m.
“We’re calling it James 1:27 because that’s the part of the Bible that talks about taking care of orphans,” said Central Baptist Association director of missions Jim Ramsey. “Our association wants to tie in and provide help for what the community needs and DCS says this area is hurting for foster parents.”
The event at Pioneer Community Church will include representatives from DCS, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Youth Villages, and the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. There will also be foster parents on hand to tell about their experiences.
“We’ve heard from a lot of people who are interested in this, but they don’t know where to start,” said Ramsey. “This is about getting potential foster parents together with the people who have the information they need."
Denton says Warren County has a number of positive things for children such as McMinnville Civic Center, Kids of the Community, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. She said it’s best for children to stay in an environment in which they are familiar if possible.
“If we had more foster homes in Warren County, when children had to be away from their parents they would be able to remain in their same communities and be able to attend their same schools and attend their same community activities,” said Denton. “When a baby is born, you think about bonding issues. We want the baby to be able to visit the mother as much as possible, but it becomes more difficult if the child is placed away from Warren County.”
The Upper Cumberland Regional DCS Office serves 14 counties, including Warren County. There are approximately 900 children in the Upper Cumberland currently in foster care. The majority, over 700, are in care due to neglect or abuse.
“Our objective is to always seek relatives to provide care when possible,” said Jennifer Watts, a DCS representative in the Cookeville office. “About 30 percent of our children are placed with relatives. When there are no appropriate relatives available, we strive to place children in foster homes located within their home community.”
The Central Baptist Association represents 19 churches, 17 in Warren County and two in Van Buren County. Pioneer Community Church is located at 1707 Yager Road. Kids games will be available so parents don’t have to worry about childcare.