By DENNIS D. CRUZ
The holidays are traditionally seen as a time for family to come together and reflect on the blessings that have nestled their way into their hearts over the last year.
However, the sad reality is that there are some children out there who do not have a place to go this holiday season.
Aspiranet, with offices in Modesto and Turlock, has been serving the 209 area and beyond since 1975, finding homes for foster children in local communities.
“We recruit and train our own families to become foster or adoptive parents for the children. For foster care, the county assists us in placement of the child into their home. We try to match the children with homes that are available,” said Diane Warne, the resource family core division director for Aspiranet. “One of the key things we look for is to keep the children in the familiarity and (as much of) a routine as possible. When a child is placed in a foster home, for them it is like their whole world has changed. We try to keep them in the same school, the same town or community so at least they don’t have to worry about too much change.”
As an agency Aspiranet not only serves foster children but also those who want to become foster parents by providing guidance and support.
“The agency is not just to support the children, but for us as well. They are our buffer between the state and the county,” explained longtime foster parent Brandon Evans. “They help us and guide us. For me, I am a third generation foster parent through Aspiranet. My grandparents did it in Fresno, and my parents did it out of Modesto. So for me, it was a no brainer to go through Aspiranet as an agency to become a foster parent.”
The Evans family has helped foster more than 200 kids over a four-year span.
“This was not something we needed to do, but it was something that we wanted to do. We wanted to help out these kids, and with the agency’s help and endless support we have been able to do so,” Evans said.
His wife Toni, also shared how the agency has impacted their home.
“We are allowed up to six kids at a time, and that includes our own. Some of the kids come to us, broken if you would. They come from a rough background so it is our job while we have them to show them love, support and structure,” Toni explained. “With that, sometimes it gets chaotic; but we are a family for those short months or weeks, whatever the case may be. We tell them they don’t have to call us mom or dad, but when they do it is a great feeling and it makes it all seem like we are making an impact and a change in their lives.”
Although during the holiday season many think about getting together with their own families, Aspiranet reminds the community that children need homes no matter the season or time of year.
“It’s nice to have these kids in homes over the holidays but the bottom line is these kids need homes year round. Winter, spring, summer and fall kids from newborn to 17 need homes and families to call their own,” Warne stressed. “It is not just the young kids who need placement. The need for teens is a big one right now. Being a teen is hard enough, but to be a foster teen is another story. We hope that all of the kids and teens can find homes and placement as soon as possible.”
For more information on how to become a foster parent or adopt, contact Aspiranet at 877-380-4376 or visit aspiranetfamilies.org.