8,545. That’s the alarming number of foster care children in Tennessee in Department of Child Services (DCS) as of September 19. The need for foster parents in the state of Tennessee is greater than ever before and organizations like Omni Visions are doing their part to help.
“There is a huge need for foster homes right now,” explains Brigitte Massey, Recruitment Specialist for foster care organization Omni Visions. “I’ve actually been in the [social work] field for 37 years now. I have never seen in all my career, a time when we needed more homes. There [are] kids [who] have to stay at the DCS office and don’t even have a place to sleep at night except there. I don’t ever remember a time where it was that bad.”
Massey, who has dedicated her life to helping children in the foster care system, retired after 30 years with the Department of Child Services and has been working at Omni Visions’ Spring Hill office ever since.
Developed in 1991, Omni Visions was founded on the premise that every child deserves a home with the goal of helping each youth that they serve to achieve permanency. With offices across Tennessee as well as in Kentucky and North Carolina, the organization contracts with the Department of Child Services, serving children ages 0-17 that are in DCS custody.
“Omni Visions has also started a new program with some homes across the state for children that age out of custody…” says Massey. “Lots of times there [are] kids that never get that permanence through adoption or returning home, so they end up aging out of the system, but Omni Visions works with them.”
While becoming a foster parent is a huge responsibility, Omni Visions is there to help new foster families every step of the way. The organization helps prepare and train foster parents through classes, facilitates home studies, and assists with everything foster parents need to do to get approved to accept children into their homes. Omni Visions even plans parties and events for the foster parents and children to provide them with support, fun activities, and a community where they can form bonds with other foster parents and kids, so that they don’t feel alone in their foster journey. “Whenever a child is placed in their home, we have a worker that is a resource coordinator that is there for them 24/7,” explains Massey. “[The foster parents] are not in this journey by themselves at all.”
As the new year approaches, consider changing the life of a child by becoming a foster parent to youth in need of love and support. Massey also encourages people to donate to The Wrap Around Closet organized by Church of the City Spring Hill, which helps provide clothes and items to children in foster placements.