The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Youth Dynamics seeks local homes


With a steady rise in the number of Montana youth in foster care, the need for foster homes has grown exponentially.

Youth Dynamics, a Montana based non-profit children's agency, is hoping to find more foster homes in the Whitehall area.

Lily Hawks, Family Development and Community Coordinator for Youth Dynamics, said the growth of the number of kids in foster care during the past five years is due to an increase in parental use of opiates and methamphetamines. With nearly 4,000 kids in Montana foster care, Hawks sees the need for both permanent and short-term homes.

"We always need more foster care homes, and can work with a family to place a child who would fit best in their life. Every week our agency gets about 10 to 20 referrals for child placements that we cannot fulfill," Haws said.

Youth Dynamics will license foster homes within two to four months of a family's inquiry. According to Hawks, once licensed Youth Dynamics will help find the right child for their home.

"We then stay involved in their lives by offering our support. A care manager meets with the family at least weekly to check in and offer support. We also have therapists who can help the child (ren) and youth case managers who assist with things like medication management, creating treatment plans to help the child reach behavioral goals, and advocating for the child's needs in his/her school," she said.

To help with costs, Youth Dynamics provides foster parents with a monthly stipend of around $865. Hawks said the ultimate goal is to help foster placements last because they know that a placement breakdown is difficult for the family and the foster child.

Hawks also discussed the importance of children being able to stay longterm in a home when they are placed so they can begin to rebuild trusting relationships.

"It is very common for foster children to have six or more placements before finding a permanent home. About 1/3 of foster children have changed elementary schools five or more times, which causes them to fall behind academically and lose friendships they have made," she said. "Being able to stay in one foster home helps kids become more successful academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally."

There are currently five licensed foster families in Whitehall and Hawks believes this community has a big heart and desire to help those who are less fortunate.

"I feel like there are other families in Whitehall who have probably thought about fostering before, and I would love to help them get started with the process," she said.


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