Wanted: safe, stable, loving homes to provide emergency care. Must be able to lift heavy hearts, answer a child’s difficult questions and wipe away tears. Salary includes small stipend, plenty of hugs and kisses. Call 431-3518/civ. 07031-15-3518.
In U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, when a child cannot be cared for by his or her family, the Emergency Placement Care program stands ready to assist.
The primary objective of the EPC Program is to provide temporary, 24 hour care for eligible children who have been the victims of a child abuse incident, who have been assessed by Social Work Services as high risk, and cannot be cared for by their natural family or legal guardian, according to Lorraine Picha, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program manager.
“This program is designed as a last resort. When friends and family are not available to provide for the child, that’s when this short-term program steps in,” Picha said.
EPC is comparable to the civilian foster care and civilian respite care programs in the U.S., according to the Army regulation that governs the Family Advocacy Program. Currently, ACS has only one family in training, but is looking for more families to care for children and teens of all ages.
“Due to the high turnover here in Stuttgart, it’s difficult to establish a constant register of families … trained and ready to take in a child. We would like to establish a solid base of two families at any given time,” said Sarah Ratliff, a Master of Social Work candidate who is an intern in the Family Advocacy Program.
The process of qualifying to become a caregiver includes an orientation, background check and training, such as CPR and first aid. Being an EPC provider can be a very rewarding experience; yet there can be challenges.
“This is a very serious commitment. The whole family needs to be on board and one hundred percent sure that they want to do this,” said Steven Naxer, the emergency placement program coordinator.
While the garrison has not had to place a child into a home in over four years, “That doesn’t mean that we don’t need a good base of families willing to take in children when needed,” he added.
Any Defense Department ID cardholder, 21 years and older, can become a caregiver. To offset the extra cost of diapers, formula, lunch money and other incidentals, providers receive a daily stipend.
For more information on becoming an emergency placement caregiver, contact the Stuttgart Family Advocacy Program at 431-3518/civ. 07031-15-3518.