Fall Creek resident and her stable help meet foster care needs - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Fall Creek resident and her stable help meet local foster care needs

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Fall Creek (WQOW) - A national event highlights a big need here in the Chippewa Valley. The month of May is dedicated toward raising awareness of foster care.

She takes in just one child at a time. But it's the way she opens up her home that makes a big impact.

Kathy Harings owns a stable here in Fall Creek. And for about the past 17 years, she's opened it and her home to foster children.

"I usually assign them to a horse so they have their own horse," she says. "It's a very gentle horse. And they learn--I teach them how to groom them, how to bridle--saddle--and how to ride them."

She says that relationship helps the children, who may have suffered abuse or neglect before coming into her home.

"They bond," Kathy says. "And they're missing that many times when they come here."

The teens Kathy takes in also have behavioral or emotional issues. They're placed with Kathy through an agency, Children's Service Society Of Wisconsin, which helps provide what's called "treatment care."

"There could be additional appointments, there could be team meetings, which include the social worker, school people, therapists and so forth," says Tim Easker of Children's Service Society Of Wisconsin. "Often times, there are therapy appointments."

But children in foster care come in all ages, in all conditions.

The need for new foster families is great. In March, Eau Claire County had 85 children in foster care. With new kids coming in every week, the need for foster parents is constant. The more who step forward, the easier it is for the county to make a better match.

So, the county and foster care agencies continue the search for parents like Kathy who share one thing in common.

"They have an extreme passion for working with kids," Tim says, "they have place in their heart for kids."

Kathy says the experience can be very rewarding but not always right away.

"Sometimes, three, four years down the road, a foster child will call you and say, 'Thank you. Thank you for doing what you did,'" she says. "And now they have a job, some went on to school and they're just very, very grateful that you were there at that time in their life."

One more note: foster parents are compensated. For example: parents who work directly with the county receive an average monthly payment of about $1,200.

If you're interested in becoming a foster family for a child, the county is one place to start. You can call 839-2300. You can also contact local foster care and adoption agencies.

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