Wright County child foster care party is a success

Every year, many children enter the child foster care system due to difficult family situations.  Licensed child foster care providers, including those in Wright County, willingly open their homes to these children, while the children’s families work to create a healthy and safe environment to which they can return home.
Each year Wright County Human Services spreads a little cheer through hosting a holiday party. According to Jill Marzean, a child foster care licensor with Wright County Human Services, this year, 17 foster families and 21 foster children attended the annual holiday party event. The following people were involved in this year’s party: Marian Elkerton, Jill Marzean, Kris Carlson, Diane Erkens, Jessica Nelson, Jill VanBeusekom, Kari Hartman, Lynnie Rositas, Kathy Kraus, Kim Cohn, Santa and Michelle Beard. Festivities included frosting cookies, making woodwork crafts, bowling, and decorating picture frames. Marzean is one of two county foster care licensors. She directly works with non-relative foster placement. Kris Carlson works with relative foster homes.
“For children who are in foster care, and families that have their children in foster care, the holiday season is an emotional time of year with stress,” she said. “What we try to do is have a little fun with an event for families and kids,” she said. “It’s one way for us to give back to the foster families and the kids in care.”
The holidays are a tough time of year, Marzean added, and it’s critical for foster parents to work as a team with the child’s biological family or family of origin.
“We want to make sure everybody is working well together and has good communication,” she said. “Every situation is going to be different for those involved.”
Marzean said community and local business support is critical in creating a positive party experience. This year, River City Extreme Bowling Alley, Home Depot, Coborns of Buffalo, Crown Plastics, Inc., Knowledge Computers of Plymouth, Clearwater Travel Plaza, the troops and families of the Delano and Loretto Girl Scouts, and last but not least, Santa, all donated time and supplies. “We don’t have much of a budget,” she said. “We were very, very blessed this year.”
For example, Marzean said that Coborns donated cookie-making supplies and Home Depot in Monticello provided three employees and craft-making materials.
“Home Depot was new this year,” she said. “They came forward with wood-working supplies; kids were able to make a bird house, card holder or picture frame.”
Marzean said Wright County Human Services’ foster care holiday party originated in 2007 with a lobby-based event. “We couldn’t afford anything, so we had staff making food and the whole bit. It was very hometown and our staff made it happen.” The event has grown each year and Wright County Human Services has reached out to the community for assistance. “The community has been extremely supportive, and this year, the whole event was funded by donations.”
According to Marzean, Wright County currently needs more foster homes, specifically, prospective foster parents who are willing to care for teenagers.
“We also need foster parents for children with unique needs,” she said, referring to kids who may face physical, emotional or mental health care challenges.
Those who are interested in becoming a foster parent should visit the foster child care section of Wright County’s website, Marzean said. “We have our own page on the Wright County Human Services site. Just click on child foster care licensing. That will walk people through the foster care licensing process.” The county’s main website address is www.co.wright.mn.us. Those without computers can contact Marzean at (763) 682-7484 or via email at jill.marzean@co.wright.mn.us.
“We are still a small enough county that I can work with people via phone,” she said. “If people have questions or need information, they can call me directly.”

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