Published in the March 2014 Edition of the South Dakota Nurse
For Leslie Wilson, it all started as a casual conversation with a close friend and desire to help kids. More than two years later, Leslie Wilson and her husband have opened their home to five foster children.
“My husband and I both grew up in loving, stable families, and can only wish to pass that on to other kids so they know that it does exist. One can only imagine what some of these kids have experienced at their young ages,” said Wilson.
Children who live with foster families, like the Wilsons, have been removed from their own homes because of abuse or neglect concerns. When a child is removed, the Department of Social Services is tasked with finding a temporary foster home to meet the unique needs of that child.
As Wilson will tell you, being a foster parent is both a challenging and rewarding experience. And it’s the challenging part that can make it difficult to recruit foster families. That’s one reason, last year, First Lady Linda Daugaard partnered with the state Department of Social Services to launch the FosterOne campaign. FosterOne’s goal is to recruit foster families with the strengths to match the needs of children placed in foster care.
The Wilsons are a perfect example of a family especially well-equipped to meet unique needs of children. Leslie is a nurse. And her professional background lends itself well to meeting the needs of medically-complex kids.
The Wilsons recently cared for a child with behavioral and developmental issues. Although the child was receiving medication for ADHD, Leslie recognized the child may benefit from a different treatment plan. Together with the child’s Family Services Specialist, the Wilsons developed a more beneficial regimen for the child.
“Without my knowledge of medications and diagnoses, I don't think I would have known that things could be changed so that this child could be a more productive and happier kid,” Wilson said.
Having foster families with healthcare backgrounds allow children with complex medical needs to be nurtured in a family-setting.
“While there are certainly times a hospital setting is necessary, being in a private home provides the child with a sense of security and normalcy,” said Mrs. Daugaard.
The First Lady went on to say that foster parenting requires dedication, patience and compassion. “We could certainly use more families like the Wilsons –people who have the ability to care for children with unique medical needs. If you have it in your heart to open your home to a foster child or you know someone who would be a good foster parent, I encourage you to take the next step and commit to know more about being a foster parent.”