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Passing Love Along: Rev. Belinda’s Foster Care Journey

Author: The Buckeye Ranch

Serving as a foster parent through The Buckeye Ranch for over 10 years, Reverend (Rev.) Belinda believes she was born to foster. She began her journey as a respite caregiver for foster parents, eventually became a foster parent through The Buckeye Ranch, and now is a trained Healing Alternatives for Youth (HAY) foster care parent, which is a specialized program developed by The Buckeye Ranch’s Foster Care team aimed at providing support for foster youth who need an added layer of high-acuity mental health support.    

Prior to becoming a foster parent, Rev. spent time working in prison ministry, where she learned the importance of providing the children of those incarcerated with support. Through a friend with experience in foster care, she was connected with The Buckeye Ranch and received training to become a respite caregiver to current foster parents. She knew that opening her home to youth in foster care placements to give support to foster families needing a short-term respite was a way to make a real impact and get a feel for what fostering would look like in her life. After gaining experience in respite care, she began her journey to becoming a licensed foster parent with support from The Buckeye Ranch.  

In the decade since, Rev. has opened her home to seven youth in foster care, fostering one child at a time for up to two years. For her, the most special thing about fostering is giving a child a soft place to land and letting them know that they’re safe. She feels called to pass on love and strives to give the children in her care stability by providing a peaceful environment. 

Becoming a Healing Alternatives for Youth (HAY) Foster Parent

Through encouragement from The Buckeye Ranch team, Rev. became a Healing Alternatives for Youth (HAY) foster parent. This new program was developed by The Buckeye Ranch to respond to the critical need to support placement, stabilization, and treatment for high-acuity youth. Having worked closely with teens over the years and with a decade of experience fostering, Belinda was a natural fit for this program. 

Today, Rev. Belinda continues to foster, currently opening her heart and home to a teen girl over the last several months. She’s received heartwarming feedback from youth she fosters that the stability and structure she provides can be a challenging adjustment but makes them feel so very loved and supported. She finds deep joy in attending parent-teacher conferences, celebrating milestones, or even traveling with youth in her care – for Belinda, helping to provide these often-first-time life experiences creates special memories that will last a lifetime – both for her and the youth she cares for. She wants those she fosters to know that she’s there for them and will be actively involved in their lives, for as long as they want her to be. For several youth she’s fostered, she continues to be a supporter in their life years down the line. 

In her relationship with The Buckeye Ranch, Rev. says it feels like home for her. The Buckeye Ranch has equipped her with training on trauma-informed care, and that has completely changed the way she builds relationships with her kids.  She shares that she believes The Buckeye Ranch has equipped her to be the best foster parent she can be because she can understand the youth she supports, and that The Ranch has seen things in her that she did not see in herself, which is incredibly special. She shares this journey has changed her life for the better more than she ever imagined upon beginning this journey years ago. 

How Trauma-Informed Approaches Help

At The Buckeye Ranch, foster parent training, along with all our approaches to care, are trauma-informed. It is safe to assume that most, if not all, of the youth in foster care with The Buckeye Ranch have experienced significant trauma in their lives. Caregivers cannot fully understand how behaviors are impacted by trauma without an understanding of the profound effect it has on early childhood. Recognizing this allows us to approach children, youth, and families with a curiosity of “what happened to you” as opposed to “what is wrong with you”. Having this level of understanding is critical to ensuring foster parents can support their youth in placement. 

 May is National Foster Care Month. This month and every month, foster parents committed to raising hope and restoring healing for youth in care, like Rev., are making a life-changing impact. At The Buckeye Ranch, we believe there is hope within every family, and together, we can ensure the children in our community are loved, supported, and cared for. 

For other individuals considering fostering, Rev. shares that it can feel overwhelming at first, but is a life experience that can be even more rewarding for foster parents than it is for youth. Each person’s foster care journey is their own, but The Buckeye Ranch is available to help both new foster parents and experienced foster parents, like Rev., feel supported no matter where you are in your journey.  

Right now, there are more than 16,700 youth lingering in foster care in our state. The need for foster parents to support these youth is critical. Having a strong network of foster parents can change the journey for youth in foster care in our state, helping them to heal, achieve stability, repair their relationships, and ultimately, give them the support they need to restore their lives. It’s an opportunity to change a life and strengthen our community for generations to come. 

If you are interested in making a life-changing impact by becoming a foster parent today, you can learn more about how on our website.