Skip to content
Home » Chris Marquart » National Foster Care Month: More foster parents needed in Ontario County

National Foster Care Month: More foster parents needed in Ontario County

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize the crucial role that child welfare services play in supporting local children and their families. It’s also a time to consider how you can directly help support local children in foster care. recently sat down with Felicia McKoy, a woman who spent her childhood in the foster care system and now works as a Social Welfare Examiner for Ontario County Department of Social Service (DSS). We talked about McKoy’s own experience in foster care, why she felt called to work in social services and the need for more people to consider the rewarding experience of becoming a foster parent.

A personal perspective on foster care

“Technically, I went into care when I was four,” explained McKoy. “I went to an actual home when I was seven. I stayed with [my foster parent] for about three years, then I did return home, but things got bad again, so I ended up returning to that same foster home.”

From there on, McKoy went into independent living, got her own place and eventually aged out of care. Originally, McKoy planned on pursuing a career in criminal justice before discovering her passion lay elsewhere.

“I went into human services. I did a couple of internships and that’s kind of how I went on the route that I’ve gone now. I started working with kids in my internships, and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” said McKoy. “I wanted to work with kids in some way.”

Related: INSIDE THE FLX: The challenges and the rewards of foster parenting (podcast)

Becoming a foster parent

In addition to her position with the Ontario County DSS, McKoy is also a foster parent. Right now, the number of children needing care in Ontario County exceeds the number of currently available foster homes.

“There’s a lot of kids that are coming in, and new homes are definitely needed. It is a hard job, it’s not always easy, so I understand why we’re running out. There’s also good [parts] to it that people don’t realize,” said McKoy.

McKoy mentioned the stigma surrounding foster care. People often assume children will misbehave, but that’s not the reality. Most children are extremely grateful to their foster parents for providing them with a safe and stable home environment.

“For the kids it has a lot of benefits. Because I was in foster care over the age of 13, I was able to go to college. It opens up a lot of opportunities,” explained McKoy. “It gave me so many different relationships with so many people. All my old caseworkers still check up on me. They tried to help me along the way, even when I aged out of care.”

Related: Thousands of children lost primary caregivers due to the pandemic

How to get involved

The first step to becoming a foster parent in Ontario County is attending the informational meeting set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 12 at 3010 County Complex Drive in Canandaigua. The details for this upcoming meeting can be found below.

After the meeting, the next step is attending certification classes.

“The process is a little lengthy, but the biggest thing I can say is that it’s worth it. Each of these kids are worth it and I just hope that people will come out and hear some more about how they can help kids in their own communities,” said Laura Edwards, a Homefinding Caseworker with the Ontario County DSS.

For more information, contact Edwards by phone at (585) 396-4545 or by email at [email protected].

Related: Canandaigua mails city planning survey to select residents ahead of citywide launch