Two Castle Country Foster Families Share Their Experiences

utah-foster-care.jpg

As foster parents for 35 years, locals Karen and Kirk Sitterud have happily fostered 158 children to date. According to Karen, her favorite part of being a foster parent is being able to give a secure and safe home for those who need it.

“It is often hard to let them go, but if they go to a safe and permanent family, that is a great ending for me,” Sitterud stated.

When asked what the biggest challenge to being a foster parent was, Sitterud stated that she always has a tough time when a child is returned home and then placed into the system again a second or third time. As a foster parent, Karen stated, it is difficult to watch children being moved from one home to another. She craves permanency for them all and a secure home life.

Very recently, Sitterud encountered her best memory associated with being a foster parent. The Sitterud’s were able to bring home a baby from the hospital and in turn see him be welcomed into a kinship home. Continuing communication with the family, Sitterud has been able to be a part of the child’s life through letters and emails.

Layne and Karen Miller are also local foster parents. The duo have been taking in teen boys for about 20 years and within that time have welcomed 20 or more into their home. When asked why the couple have decided to exclusively take in teen boys, Layne stated that he had worked at Four Corners for about 15 years and could see that teenage boys were sent out of the area and away from their families more because there was no placement for them.

Each boy has brought with him his own unique challenges. The pair states that they think they have learned and witnessed it all and then they are surprised all over again. To Layne, the best part of being a foster parent is learning about how to deal with kids. Over the years, the family has welcomed boys that have IQ challenges. One boy in particular that they housed for about three years became one of the family. The best part was that the Miller’s got to see him go to his biological mom and step-dad. The duo then became good friends with the family and are able to still communicate with the young man.

Layne believes that being a foster parent benefits the children, but benefits the parents and family just as much. The Miller’s own children have actually started fostering children themselves.

“I think we can help most of the boys by giving them structure and consistency,” Layne stated.

The Miller’s worked hard to let the boys know that they have a set of rules that are always going to be the same. If the boys do not adhere to the rules, there are consequences that follow. If they do well, the rewards are there. Although the boys do not necessarily enjoy the rules at first, they stated, they learn and do well in the end.

“It’s rewarding once you try,” Karen Miller stated of being a foster parent. “We really need foster parents around here.”

Karen Sitterud stressed the need for more people and families to be involved in foster care in the Castle Country area for several reasons. One important reason is that the child is able to stay in the area and not be sent to another region for placement due to lack of homes. Another is that this is a service where you can give back and, according to Karen Sitterud, love doing it.

If there are many homes out there that are wondering if they can do this, Karen Sitterud’s answer is a firm yes. She states that children need each one of us that can do this type of service. Homes are needed for teens, especially, and many people are actually very gifted in this type of foster care.

“Foster parenting will bring joy into your home that you have never realized before,” stated Karen Sitterud. “I love being a foster parent, as you can see by the years we have done this and it is a joy to see our children and the change that has happened in their lives because of them being in our home.”

There are currently 97 children from in Castle Country in foster care. Unfortunately, not all of these children are able to stay in our communities because of the lack of foster homes in the area.

Ask a local foster parent that question you’ve always wanted to ask and hear about why they have chosen to help abused or neglected children during a “Lunch & Learn” event  scheduled in May. This special event will take place on Tuesday, May 16 at noon at 475 W Price River Drive in upstairs conference room. Please RSVP to Kobi at (435) 636-2010 or Kobi.prettyman@utahfostercare.org  in order for lunch to be planned accordingly. If you would like more information, you can visit utahfostercare.org or contact Prettyman with the information provided.