Why I'm supporting a proposed bill to help foster parents
My name is Brooke Martin. I am a foster parent and an early childhood special educator who has been serving children with special needs for over 20 years. I am passionate about the work I do as a teacher and as a single foster mom. Two years ago, little L came to me at 9 months. I received the call on a Friday, and scrambled to find child care by Monday morning since I did not have leave benefits through my work and was not able to take time. On Monday, I was lucky to find a temporary spot at a center about 20 minutes from our house. Cost and availability of high-quality early care is an issue that I understand first hand.
By June, the center was no longer able to offer a full-time spot and we were left to change daycares. I found a nanny share for little L, which cost the same as the center at $1,400 a month. After six months, our nanny decided to move and I was left trying to find another caregiver for L. I found another temporary arrangement for several months, and then finally, last January I was able to secure a spot at an in-home daycare. L has been there for over a year and is thriving. However, she is getting closer to turning 3 and I want her to continue to catch up developmentally with a high-quality preschool that offers a strong social and emotional curriculum. L will start at a new preschool in June, and it will cost approximately $900 per month until she reaches kindergarten.
I am a strong, educated, independent woman, who owns a home and makes an average salary of $60,000. I have so much to offer L and other foster children given my 20 years of experience working with at-risk children from birth to age 3. My continuing education includes post-master’s training in trauma and attachment. I am the perfect foster mom and soon to be adoptive mom to little L. And it has been a shame that I have had to panic about finding my foster child a safe, engaging and rich learning environment. She has had to manage so many transitions in her short little life, and I can only imagine how much more resilient she would be if she had had one consistent learning environment over the last two years instead of four.
The research to support the effects of a high-quality early learning for at-risk children has been reproduced ten-fold in the past 40 years. We know it serves as a protective factor, regardless of what is going on at home. Foster kids need, and deserve, access to research-based social and emotional curriculums, and foster parents deserve to be supported in this endeavor.
I talk to several single women a month who are interested in becoming foster parents. HB 18-1348 will not only help secure new and keep current foster parents, by helping with the financial cost of child care, but it will act as another protective factor for our state’s most vulnerable children. Doesn’t it make sense to invest the money now, when children are so young and capable of so much brain growth, than pay the price later? I am doing the work every day to ensure these kids can heal from such significant early trauma, and so are hundreds of other foster families. Please support us in supporting them.