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Caring Hearts for Children Seeks Foster Families in Burnet and Llano Counties

Jessica Rogers (seated) and Harley Cooper of Caring Hearts for Children help families interested in fostering children get started as well as support those families and the foster children during the entire process. Caring Hearts for Children can even help with adoptions through the foster care system. The nonprofit now has an office in Burnet, 215 S. Pierce St. on the courthouse square. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

BURNET — Jessica Rogers grew up understanding the challenges foster families and children face. It wasn’t because she was in a foster family; her mom worked for Child Protective Services and managed a number of CPS investigators.

Rogers saw how important foster families are for children removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.

“Foster families are so important,” Rogers said. “They give these kids a safe, stable place to live while either their situation leads to (reunification) for their family or adoption.”

After graduating from Tarleton State University, Rogers found her calling through Caring Hearts for Children, a nonprofit that works with foster families and foster children. Rogers, a Burnet High School graduate, worked in the agency’s Fort Worth office for a year and a half before opening the Burnet location this summer.

“There is such a need in this area for foster families,” she said. “I read where CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for the Highland Lakes Area) has 158 children they’re working with,” she said.

When CPS removes a child from a home due to abuse and/or neglect, they work to place them with either a non-offending family member or into foster care. If they can’t find a foster family in the surrounding area, CPS often has to place the child with a family in another part of the state.

This causes additional stress on children. The best situation is placing children with foster families in the community to lessen the disruption on their lives.

“Sometimes, CPS workers spend the night at the office with kids because they don’t have a foster family available right away,” Rogers said.

The lack of foster families makes it challenging for CPS, CASA, which assigns a specially trained volunteer to each child removed from a home by CPS, and the children.

Rogers and fellow Caring Hearts for Children case manager Harley Cooper have made it their mission to recruit more foster parents in Burnet and Llano counties.

“We can do all the training on site and help families through the process,” Rogers said.

Caring Hearts for Children also makes sure the foster children placed with their families receive the appropriate care as well as support the foster families.

While Caring Hearts for Children doesn’t conduct private adoptions, it does assist with the adoption process through the foster care system.

The Burnet office is one of three Caring Hearts for Children locations. The organization started in Comanche before opening its second office in Fort Worth. When the opportunity to open one in Burnet arose, Rogers saw it as a chance to return to her hometown and help the community.

“What we need are homes. We have five foster homes in the area now, but there is such a need for more to help these kids who are going through a tough time,” she said. “One of the biggest fears we hear from families interested in fostering is they get attached to the children, and then the children leave. It hurts,” Rogers said. “Yes, it does. I tell them, ‘Yes, you’ll get attached, and they’ll leave, but those children, they need that love you give them. They need that stability. They need you.’”

People interested in becoming a foster parent can contact Rogers at jrogers@caringheartsforchildren.org or Cooper at hcooper@caringheartsforchildren.org. Or, stop by the Burnet office, 215 S. Pierce St. on the courthouse square.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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