Free day of golf will raise awareness for foster care
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Grayling Country Club is hosting a day of free golf this weekend in hopes of getting foster children into loving homes.
The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, at the Grayling Country Club, located at 2122 S. I-75 Business Loop.
May is foster care awareness month, and the free golf outing is being held to celebrate a community of caring.
A similar event was held last year, but was just open to Crawford County residents. This year, residents from Otsego and Oscoda counties can come and play golf and get educated about becoming foster care parents.
“Anybody can come golf and we will be there to talk about foster parenting,” said Donna Mooney, a foster care home licensing specialist for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office in Grayling. “We will have staff, we will have foster parents, and we have teenagers who have been in foster care who are going to be there to talk about their experience and about what foster parenting entails.”
Mooney credited Mike Fortino, the general manager of the Grayling Country Club, for developing the idea for the golf outing to heighten the awareness of the needs of foster care children and for foster care families.
The event is not like a typical golf outing, where organizations are trying to raise money and prizes and items are awarded.
“We really don’t need the funds – we need foster parents,” Mooney said. “This will get the word out about fostering and what it entails and the need for foster homes.”
According to a DHHS fact sheet for February 2017, there were 13,548 abuse and neglect complaints filed statewide; there were 7,191 assigned investigations; and there were 2,042 confirmed cases of abuse and neglect.
There were 12,862 children in foster care in the month of February; there were 5,737 children residing in licensed foster care home; there were 1,301 child with licensed relatives; and there were 967 children residing in child care institutions.
In Crawford County, there are 45 children in foster care. Crawford County currently has four general care foster care homes, and six relative foster care homes.
In Otsego County, there are 64 children in foster care. Otsego County currently has 20 general foster care homes, and 10 relative foster care homes.
In Oscoda County, there are 21 children in foster care; Oscoda County has two general foster care homes, and one relative foster care home.
Mooney said state officials would like to expand the number of foster care homes to accommodate the needs of the children.
“We need as many homes as possible, because we would like for it to be a good fit for the kids and the foster family,” she said. “If we have a wide range to choose from, the better. Then we can have the best fit for the kids and the best fit for the family, and we don’t end up removing kids from foster families.”
Foster care children who can’t be placed in local homes are sent to homes outside of the three-county area. They can also be placed in privately licensed foster care facilties, which is more costly for the state and the counties.
Children are not only removed from their families, but also from their schools, friends, and communities. They still face the time of commuting back and forth for parenting time and court hearings.
“It’s another loss for them,” Mooney said.
Placing the children with relatives is the first-choice option for foster care workers.
“We always try to look for relatives when a child is removed, if that’s possible,” Mooney said. “There is a need in all counties across Michigan.”
Members of the Faith-Based Initiative Adoptive and Foster Parent Recruitment Coordination Agency, which is affiliated with the DHHS, will be on hand at the golf outing to recognize Fortino and the Grayling Country Club.
“Mike Fortino at the country club has been awesome to work with,” Mooney said. “Most of the ideas come from him.”
Fortino said two families adopted children after the event last year, something state officials said would take up to six months to a year if they went through typical recruiting methods.
“We hope to do the same this year,” Fortino said.
Fortino said the Grayling County Club wants to be good stewards of the community by serving as a venue where people can learn more about foster care.
“The outing will introduce the public to those people who work every day in trenches trying to get foster care parents,” he said.
Fortino said the Grayling Country Club is committed to help raise awareness regarding foster care for many years to come.
“We are here for the long run and we are here to make it grow and make it possible for kids to get a family,” Fortino said.
To check on available tee times for the event, call the Grayling Country Club at (989) 348-5618.
For more information about foster care, call 1-855-MICHKIDS.
Locally, for Crawford and Oscoda County residents, call Mooney at (989) 798-4762 or e-mail Mooneyd1@michigan.gov.
In Otsego County, call Marc Morrell at (989) 395-2144 or e-mail email@example.com or Lori Hunt at (989) 370-6931 or e-mail Hunt12@michigan.gov.