The coronavirus pandemic hasn't stopped the need for foster parents in Limestone County or the need to support families in the foster care system, but it has affected how the Limestone County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association provides that support.
In past years, the association has hosted a large Christmas party at which sibling groups and foster families across the county could mingle and interact. For many, it was a way to interact with other children and parents in a similar family dynamic, to hang out with people who understand what it's like to be in a foster, adoptive or even kinship family.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, however, that plan had to be scrapped. Maria Tyler, vice president of LCFAPA, said finding a venue that could handle 350 adults and children, plus asking each of those 350 to wear a mask for up to three hours while they ran and played inside the venue, just wasn't feasible.
"It's just so hard, because we have so many kids that are medically fragile, and I hate to run that risk or say, 'Sorry, you can't come,'" Tyler said.
She said they hope to have a similar get-together for families in the spring, though it depends on how severe the pandemic is then. In the meantime, LCFAPA is working on a hospitality room at the local Department of Human Resources office for children who are new to foster care and are waiting on placement with a family.
"We're working on remodeling that and getting stuff set up for that, so that everybody that comes into care, that's a little area they can take advantage of," Tyler said of the room.
Plans for the hospitality room include two futon couches, games, toys, two TVs, a PlayStation 4, a Nintendo Wii, games and accessories for both, movies, a table with chairs and a game table. Tyler said she also hopes to add recliners for kids to sit in and a small fridge that can hold drinks and snacks.
To fund the remodel and furnish the room, LCFAPA is hosting a two-day fundraiser from 8 a.m.– 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20–21, at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church, 1300 S. Lindsay Lane, Athens. The fundraiser will be a yard sale, with most items available for $1 each. Shoppers can also stuff a bag for $5, and there will be large items priced separately but "priced to sell," according to the yard sale's flier.
Donations for the yard sale are still being accepted. Those who wish to donate items or make a monetary donation are encouraged to call or text Tyler at 256-777-9900 to arrange the donation.
Adults interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents can visit dhr.alabama.gov/foster-care/ to learn more.