Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Agency Helps Foster Children Find Loving Families

Photo caption: Gwen Knotts, with James Knotts, her husband of 30 years. As the Chief Executive Officer Gwen Knotts she has lead a diverse and dedicated team of child development professionals to provided a safe, loving environment for hundreds of children since 1992.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Sixteen years ago, Gwen Knotts’ heart was breaking. As a public health nurse, she saw many children being neglected. It wasn’t that their parents didn’t love them. They simply did not know how to be good parents.

“Unfortunately, babies don’t come with an owners’ manual,” she said. “Raising children is the most important job people will ever have, but one for which so many are ill-prepared.”

Knotts’ passion for children led her to develop the Knotts’ Family and Parenting Institute in 1992. Since then, by recruiting and training foster parents to care for children who must be removed from unsafe home situations. Knotts has provided a safe, loving environment for hundreds of children.

“All you need to be a foster parent is a heart for children and a house large enough to reasonably accommodate them,” Knotts said. “We provide training, a small amount of compensation and other support for our foster families.”

Knotts Family and Parenting Institute can place foster children with qualified families living in San Bernardino or Riverside counties. To qualify a family, Knotts’ social workers will interview the parents, conduct background checks and visit their homes to make sure they are safe and adequate. Parents are required to attend special training. Once everything is completed, Knotts Family and Parenting Institute will certify them as foster parents.

Once a foster child is placed in the new home, a Knotts social worker will visit them weekly to see that all is going well. Social workers also help the children work through any problems they might be having.

These children come to Knotts through Child Protective Services and other government agencies. The Institute maintains a list of pre-approved foster parents, so it can receive children from CPS and place them in homes on short notice.

About 50 foster families are working with Knotts at any given time. In some areas of the Inland Empire, especially the Low Desert of Riverside County, there is an immediate need for more foster parents, and there is need throughout the two-county region for parents who will accept teenage children.

Knotts also offers training to biological parents. This training helps the foster children return home to their families. “Always the ultimate goal is to return the child home or to a permanent situation,” she explained. “Ideally, that is with the parents, another family member or foster parents are encouraged to adopt.”

Knotts is committed to helping its children find permanent homes. It is currently in the process of applying for an adoption license. Until then, it supports the foster parents as they go through the application process of either county or a private adoption agency.

Since 1992 the Knotts Family and Parenting Institute has provided foster family services for the children, parents and foster parents of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

For more information, or to become a foster parent, call the Knotts Family and Parenting Institute at (909) 880-0600 or 1-800-9-KIDS-FAST (1-800-954-3732).