"I kind of want to pay it forward" when it comes to becoming a foster parent

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- More than a dozen people attended Brown County’s foster care informational session Tuesday night to learn more about coming a foster parent to kids in need.

Brown County’s foster care supervisor said the number of kids entering the program has grown 10-15 percent since last year.

In an effort to answer questions and dispel any myths associated with foster parenting, the county is hosting a series of informational sessions throughout the year for anyone interested.

On Tuesday, Antoine Colvin and his wife attended the session. For Colvin, becoming a foster parent is personal

“I was in foster care for 6 years and then I was adopted by the family that took me,” said Colvin. “I was part of the system so I know all those feelings she had on the screen. I get where these kids are coming from and I really want to help these kids out.”

When it comes to becoming a foster parent, there’s a lot of paperwork involved, including background, mental health and drug/alcohol checks.

“If you’ve committed a crime, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a foster parent,” said Gena Schupp, Brown County’s Foster Care supervisor.

There will also be insurance checks, training requirements and home visits that include disaster and fire evacuation plans. However, Schupp said the main things they are looking for are people who are empathetic and flexible.

“You can be a single person, you can be married or you can have a partner,” said Schupp. “What we are looking for is people to provide stability and love to our kids.”

Once you get through the application process, there’s a lot of support for foster parents, including medical, childcare and financial assistance.

“Foster parents do receive a reimbursement for caring for these children and to provide for food, clothing, and shelter so they are not alone when they get into this service,” said Ryan Good, President and CEO of Foundations Health & Wholeness.

Colvin and his wife know it won’t be easy as foster kids typically stay in a home for about 6 months to a year.

“We have a 2.5-year-old old daughter and that is our biggest concern,” said Colvin. “How she is going to react to the kid’s coming in and then leaving? How will she handle the grieving process?”

But Colvin said it’s something they are willing to work through in order to help a child in need.

“It meant the world to me. I could be anywhere, doing anything if my parents didn’t bring me in,” said Colvin. “There’s enough kids out here that need a safe home and I feel like I can do my part with that.”

If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Brown County, the county is hosting a series of informational sessions. The next one is Thursday, February 15 at 6 p.m. It will be at Brown County Human Services, which is in the Sophie Beaumont Building located at 111 North Jefferson Street in downtown Green Bay.

If you would like more information about Foundations Health & Wholeness, visit www.foundationsgb.org.