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Lewis County recognizes foster parents

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LOWVILLE — Just in time for National Foster Care Month, Lewis County legislators recognized eight families responsible for youth foster care.

Lewis County Legislator Neil H. Pepper, R-Brantingham, thanked those in attendance Tuesday for opening their hearts and homes.

But he offered more than gratitude.

“I was fortunate enough to be adopted by foster parents when I was just a baby,” he said. “It’s really a great thing to bring people into your home, loving and caring for them as we all need. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Mr. Pepper, Legislators Andrea J. Moroughan, R-Watson, and Bryan D. Moser, R-Kirschnerville, and staff from the county Department of Social Services joined the group at Jeb’s Restaurant for a dinner following the ceremony. Former foster parents and Jeb’s owners Jeremy A. and Rebecca P. Kelly have hosted the dinner for three years.

Attending for their first year, Sonia A. and Andrew Wendt having been training to become foster parents since last May.

Offered by the DSS, the training takes 10 weeks. Yearly recertification classes are mandatory.

For Chris and Loren Bush, their training three years ago prepared them for what to expect and decisions they may have to make. “A lot of it is on-the-job training,” Mr. Bush.

The couple got involved because they finally had a large home and their children were grown. They’ve continued with the program for three years, hosting seven children so far.

Because they operate a farm and garden business from home, they offer experiences many of the children have never had.

“We’ve had children that said they never had a pet,” Mrs. Bush said. “Now here they are collecting eggs and walking around holding a chicken.”

The Lewis County DSS has a shortage of placement homes for older children needing care. Some teens are sent to outside agencies.

For more information about becoming a foster parent in Lewis County, call the DSS at 376-5400.

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