On February 21st, 2017 my and my husband’s lives changed forever. We got a phone call from a social worker saying that there were two little kids, ages 18 months and 3 and a half who needed an immediate foster care placement. They didn’t know anything other than first names at the time, but expected to have a little more information by the time the children were dropped off... in 45 minutes, which is not a lot of time.
- It’s enough time to acquire diapers, toothbrushes, jammies and basic kid-friendly foods.
- It’s enough time to call the church friends who have offered their outgrown baby accouterments and lay claim to the essentials: pack n play, high chair, baby gate, etc.
- It’s enough time to call your out-of-state parents and tell them the exciting news.
...but it’s not enough time to get on a day care wait list.
Access to child care was a linchpin in our decision to become foster parents. Kyle works full time as a software engineer, and I own a growing small business that I run out of our home. As an #momtrepreneur, child care is more than essential. Child care doesn’t just give me access to income… it gives me access to building my dreams.
"... as a foster mom, an entrepreneur, a working woman and a Pittsburgh transplant, Jeremiah’s Place has been a lifeline for me. It represents so much more than a safe place for my kids to be when I’m out of other options; it represents empowerment and a sense of community you really don’t find many other places. It helps Pittsburgh feel like home.
Foster care creates a unique need to rely on your community in so many ways, but the child care situation is especially unique for foster parents. Most parents start making plans for child care early on in their pregnancy… but since foster parents don’t know the age, quantity, special needs or circumstances of the children or when they will arrive, it’s not possible to plan ahead.
In our situation, this meant we had to send the kids to the only daycare in a 10 mile radius of our home that didn’t have a wait list. The staff were exceedingly kind and they took great care of the kids; for that reason, I worked hard to look past some of the red flags that were immediately obvious when we enrolled them.
After only four months time I received a phone call from the owner of the daycare (on a Sunday evening) saying “Sadly, we are closing permanently effective immediately. Just wanted to give you a head’s up so you don’t try to bring them here tomorrow morning!”
We could quibble over whether a phone call at 5:30pm on Sunday counts as “a heads up,” but suffice it to say, I was stuck and panicking. That was the first of many times I utilized Jeremiah’s Place.
I write this knowing full well that any parent would be seriously stressing in this situation. (Which is exactly why any parent can utilize Jeremiah’s Place!) However, the surreal quantity of emotional taxing commitments on a foster parent’s plate add to this stress significantly.
At the time we had over six foster care appointments per week between occupational and developmental therapies, parent-child interactive therapy, extra trips to the doctor as our kids got sick frequently, family court hearings, and home visits OUT. THE. WAZOO!
Bottom line: there’s A LOT to keep up with in foster care!
I learned how to parent them, how to meet their needs, how to comfort them, etc. That’s the stuff that takes you from being “a provider of basic needs” to being truly viewed as a safe place for the kids entrusted to your care. But my commitment to being at those meetings, meant that the remaining time on my calendar was precious and needed to be guarded with the utmost of care.
So when the childcare disruptions that could happen to anyone happened to us, I desperately needed back up!
At first it was hard for us to feel comfortable taking advantage of services at JP - we are not struggling with poverty, home insecurity, domestic violence or addiction. When we hear “crisis child care,” images of horrific circumstances come to mind, and we are fortunate not to experience those things in our day to day reality. However, we have been welcomed at JP just the same.
We moved to Pittsburgh for opportunities that our hometowns would now afford us. However, that means that we don’t have family to help with child care, as all of our relatives live out of state.
So, as a foster mom, an entrepreneur, a working woman and a Pittsburgh transplant, Jeremiah’s Place has been a lifeline for me. It represents so much more than a safe place for my kids to be when I’m out of other options; it represents empowerment and a sense of community you really don’t find many other places. It helps Pittsburgh feel like home. Resources like this make it possible for people like Kyle and I to venture out of our comfort zones to try to build the best possible life for ourselves!
We are so grateful to have Jeremiah’s Place in our lives. The facility itself is beautiful and secure, they have so many activities and fun things for kids to do, and it is staffed by some of the most caring and wonderful people in the city. Our daughter asks from time to time if I’m “in a jam” so she can go to Jeremiah’s Place, because she loves it there so much!
I’m so thankful this place exists and hope to increase awareness of this wonderful community resource; both to parents who can use their services, and to donors looking for wonderful ways to invest in the community.
Jeremiah’s Place is a total Godsend!