Youth Villages needs foster parents for local children in need

Published 1:23 am Sunday, June 27, 2010

What do you do when you have a big heart, a spare room and extra love to go around? The team at Youth Villages hope that you will consider opening your heart and home to a local child in need, by becoming a certified foster parent.

Youth Villages has been recognized by The White House in 2009 as a nonprofit with “promising ideas that are transforming communities” and an example of “effective, innovative nonprofits” that are “high-impact, result-oriented”organizations. It was named one of the 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For by the Nonprofit Times in 2010.

The team working in the southern Mississippi area consists of local resident, Ashley Teague, BS, who is the area recruiter; Sonja Luecke, who is the public relations specialist and Katja Russell, Director of Programs for Mississippi and Texas.  Luecke says, “the important traits in a potential foster parent are the ability to love unconditionally and to be someone that tries to see the child’s potential.” 

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The mission at Youth Villages is to provide children in need with families that will love them, not give up on them and provide as much continuity in their lives as possible. Russell took some time to explain the support system in place for these fragile new family units.

“To facilitate these families, Youth Villages has an extensive certification program which focuses on how to foster a child.  This program teaches how to show guidance, become a parent of structure and how to communicate love to your foster child. In addition to this course, there are staff members on call 24/7. The purpose of this availability of staff is if one or both parties have a challenge, someone is there for them.”

Russell also notes, “There is a support group for the foster parents that meets once a month and is ongoing.  In addition to this, the staff works with the parents to provide help for their individual foster child.”

She continues, “Keeping the children in the communities that they grew up with gives them a home connection that promotes stability in the child. It is important to allow the child to maintain as much continuity as possible in this time of drastic change.”

One couple that have followed the gentle tugging on their heart can not be identified other than by their first names and no details can be given on the foster children to protect their identities.

This couple is Wayne and Ginny, who are from the southern Mississippi area and had always had children in their home. 

Ginny says,” We always had kids in our home and even took in friends of our kids that needed us.  We made it clear that there were rules and that they needed to stay in touch with their parents and try to work things out.”

She says that once her children had left home, it took about three months for her husband to ask her view on adoption.

“I was amazed because I had been thinking that very same thing,” she recalls.  “Right then, we saw the commercial for Youth Villages and my husband suggested that I call.  That was close to two years ago and we have never looked back.”

Ginny appreciates the daily aspects of caring for and nurturing the children. She says, “We take a lot of joy out of doing for them and the every day ways that we can care for them.  I feel good at the end of the day when they are all safe and sound in their beds.”

Of her grown children, Ginny says,” I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see my grown children extending their hearts to include our foster children.  If something every happened to me and my husband, I have not one doubt that my grown children would come forward as people that would want to take care of these children.”

To the community, Ginny says, “If God puts in your heart to take care of a child, don’t wait. Because these children can’t wait.”

Teague adds, “if you or someone you know has a loving family or wants to have a loving family, it could be only a phone call away.”

Please call Ashley D. Teague, BS, TFC Trainer/Recruiter, Hattiesburg, Mississippi at Office: 601-271-7573 or Fax: 601-271-2701. You can also find out more information at

Here’s a list of things she sent that our foster care program will need for now.

Items we are collecting:

Suitcases/duffel bags (new or gently used) Shampoos Toothbrushes Pampers Baby Wipes Diaper Creams Brushes Combs Hair Oils Hair Bows Colorful rubber bands for hair Children’s bedding (new) Children’s pajamas (new/all sizes)