First lady promotes FosterOne program
By JANE UTECHT, Staff Reporter
For the second time this month, South Dakota First Lady Linda Daugaard visited Madison, but Monday's stop didn't involve airplanes.|
Daugaard spoke at the local Rotary Club meeting to promote awareness of the state's new campaign about foster parenting, FosterOneSD.
The former teacher, coach and librarian has always had a great interest in children's issues, but this new foster program is one she didn't hesitate to endorse. She and her governor husband have worked for this cause previously, when Dennis Daugaard was with the Children's Care Hospital in Sioux Falls.
"I knew I'd help with this one," she told the Rotarians. The program launched in July.
Being a foster parent is emotional and challenging, Daugaard said. As a parent herself, she knows that "taking care of children is a daunting task. It is the most rewarding job," she said.
Because choosing to be a foster parent can be a difficult decision, Daugaard didn't pressure anyone to volunteer for the job. She just asked the 15 or so Rotary members to fill out a card and "commit to know more about the foster program." Her goal throughout the campaign is to have 1,000 cards filled out, either in person or online.
To help the Madison Rotary members find out about foster care, two local Social Services workers attended: Deb Riley from the Brookings office and Kevin Kanta from Sioux Falls. They, along with Daugaard, answered several questions from the group.
The trio also listed some statistics. Foster care is intended to be a temporary placement, from one day to one year; 80 percent of the children are returned to their families in that first year. Madison now has four foster families, and two children are in foster care in the community.
Statewide, there are 664 foster children, and 683 homes are licensed. Although the number seems balanced, Kanta said, "It's not so much about the numbers," explaining that they like to match the needs of the child with the foster home. Because "different communities can have different needs," he said they would like the number of homes to increase so they can better match a child with a home in their community.
Daugaard said that if her husband had not been elected governor, they would have had foster children. Instead, she is asking others in the state to consider foster parenting.
"If you have the heart, look at [foster parenting] and learn more about it."
The website for the program is FosterOneSD.org.