Athens, Ala. – The holiday season is now upon us. Across the state of Alabama and around the country, there are children who experience the holiday season without family and friends surrounding them. In Limestone County, there is a team of people who are working to create a solution to that problem. I’m happy to introduce to you, Limestone County DHR Foster Care Parenting Licensing and Recruitment Training Specialists Haquoia Doss and Amanda Patton. Haquoia and Amanda came on The Mark White Show this past Friday to talk about what they are doing to try to find homes for the infants, toddlers, and young people in our area.
Haquoia Doss graduated University of Alabama Huntsville in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts (double major psychology and sociology). In May of 2013, she graduated from Alabama A&M with a master’s degree in Social Work and became a licensed master social worker in July of 2013. She began work with Limestone County DHR in August of 2014 as an Adult Protective Services worker and transitioned into child welfare in January of 2017, licensing and training foster parents.
Amanda Patton graduated from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in December 2003 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work She passed the licensure exam in September 2004. Originally from Walker County, she moved up here for my husband’s work. She began working with DHR right out of college and has experience in a few counties. She moved around some and ended up at Limestone County DHR in December 2006. She has been with the state for over 12 years. Most of her work has been with children in foster care and their families.
As I began my interview, Haquoia said that they have many children that they have to get involved with because of the difficult situations with their families. She says that they do what they can to try to rehabilitate the family and get the children back with their parents if possible. She went on to say that, sometimes, they do have children who are in facilities or foster care that would like to visit with their own parents, so they try their best to get them back together during the holidays. Sometimes, it can be difficult. The ages of those in foster care can range from newborn to 18 years old and even up to 21 years old depending on the situation. Haquoia says that there is a fear for some that the older kids are set in their ways and that it’s harder to parent them, but she went on to say that’s not always the case.
Haquoia and Amanda both say if you are interested in becoming a foster parent, the first step to take is to become informed. Haquioa suggests that interested individuals go to the DHR.Alabama.gov website and research the information found there. She adds that anyone around the state can get information from that website. Haquoia says that once you start deciding that being a foster parent is something you would like to do, you should give you local county office a call. At that point, they’ll take you through the process. Amanda added that there is a need and there has always been a need for foster parents. She says, finding quality homes to match up homes and children is the goal. Haquoia says that Limestone County has to reach out to other counties for help when it comes to group homes. Depending on the needs of the child, they might have to go further away from the area. She says that they reach out all over the state of Alabama to meet the needs of each child.
For those who feel that they might not have enough income to be a foster parent, Haquoia says that as long as you are able to take care of yourself and you own family, then you can foster a child. She adds that there is no certain income level to qualify to be a foster parent. Although they do look at income, that is only to determine if one is capable of taking care of a child.
When asked about why they love their job, Haquoia responded that she loves the people adding that she’s always been a people person. She says that she loves the interaction and she sees the difference that can be made in a child’s life when you see how much foster parents care for the ones that they are taking care of. She says that foster parents change lives. Haquoia says that the simple things that we sometimes take for granted are major things to a child who needs love and care. Amanda says that she enjoys the fact that each day is different. This time of year, she enjoys working on projects that will be special for the children during the holidays.
Speaking of events, the Limestone County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association is hosting their annual Christmas party on December 9th from 6pm-9pm. For this event, they are looking for any youth groups, beta clubs, etc. who might need community service hours or those who simply want to volunteer to help. They will have at least 100 kids and their families who will need to be served at the party. They are looking for help with set up, crafts, games, clean up and just encouraging foster and adoptive families. Haquoia says that this is great time to get familiar with the foster program here in Limestone County. For more information about the Christmas party, you can go to the LCFAPA Facebook page and send them a message.
For those interested in becoming foster parents in Limestone County can call (256) 216-6380. For those outside of Limestone County, you can go to DHR.Alabama.gov and get contact information for your county.