Julie White

The journey through child welfare has been one that I did not intend to take. I grew up in a small farm town and was fairly sheltered from what all was happening in the world around me. However, I did know I did want to do something bigger than myself. Little did I know what that really meant for me. I did desire to work with teens and started working in youth ministry in a small church. Through that, I also had a desire to possibly adopt a teen sometime down the road. So, during my time in youth ministry, I wanted to see if I could make a great impact in teens’ lives. I found juvenile justice foster care and started to learn how I could help Next thing I knew, I was taking the classes to become a foster parent.  After weeks of classes and more training to follow, I received the call to take my first placement.

The past seven years of being a foster parent have been some trying, yet rewarding, times in my life. I have met so many children who have come from wounded and heartbreaking situations. At this point, I have taken in a total of 14 longer-term placements and provided respite services to countless children. During those years, I wondered what else I could do besides provide shelter and food. I wanted to do more and still strive to find ways to help out however and whomever I can. This has become a way of life more than anything else.

A year ago, I found myself seeking out another career change and ended up with an offer to work for a Child Placing Agency in Kansas. This experience has given me open doors to provide more opportunities to raise awareness for the need for homes for children in foster care. Also, I have been able to have a voice for children who may not be able to advocate for themselves. I continue to believe that children, who are the people that will run our country, be CEOs of companies, provide customer service and so much more, they need us to show them the way when no one else will step up and be that example. Kids need someone who can be their cheerleader for being a kid and participating in activities their age and getting to live their childhood and teen years as just that, a child. I want to be the foster parent who allows them to see their potential and what their futures can be verses what they are told to be.

My years with teens in and out of my home have taught me so much about myself. I have learned that I can accomplish more than I know, have learned more about different behaviors and needs that kids have, built great relationships with birth parents, and learned that if I am willing to learn I am able to teach. Knowledge is key to helping children see their potential for a brighter future.

I believe that everyone can help a child in some way or another, whether that is promoting foster classes, recruiting within their organization for supplies, hosting a suitcase or toiletry drive, taking TIPS-MAPP classes to become a foster parent or respite provider, become a Police Protective Custody home, find a job in social services, become a CASA or educational advocate for a child. The list could go on and on. There is always a way to help. I know there are some stories that have been told that keep people from wanting to take the step to foster. One thing I would recommend is at least take the classes. During those 10 weeks, you never know what will come out of it, who you will meet or what you might find out that could change a child’s life forever.