Partnership for Children is the link between children in need and foster families

There is an innate, grand desire to effect positive change in our world. It dwells within us, and however small or insignificant our efforts may seem, real change begins at home with how we love our families. 

Ashton and Sarah, fellow members of our community, wanted to make a difference by opening their hearts and their home as foster parents to a child in need. They did so through Partnership for Children (PFC), a local organization that has brought healing and hope to children and families for more than twenty years. They introduce safe, nurturing adults into the lives of these youngsters who have suffered, through no fault of their own, from chronic lack of care or significant early childhood trauma. 

The relationship is the intersection of two vulnerable paths, but like all good things, the best moments are the ones we don’t see coming. 

Last year, Ashton and Sarah made the life-changing call. They are foster parents to ten-year-old Issac, and with the support, guidance, and training provided by PFC, they are excited to become a forever family through the legal adoption of Issac.

“We set out to make a difference in the life of a hurting child. What we didn’t realize is how much love and joy Issac would bring into our lives,” said Ashton. 

Feeling qualified to be a foster parent can take a serious hit to our ego—is my home perfect? Is the care I can provide good enough? Can I hold all of the answers to all of the questions? Am I good enough to do this? Ashton emphasized how he is far from perfect. 

“Wonderfully flawed,” laughed Sarah. “We both are. We blow it. We get mad.” They agree, keeping a good sense of humor is the most important aspect of being good foster parents. 

Foster care through this Missoula-based program emphasizes therapeutic care before, during, and after the placement of the child. Partnership for Children Foster Care Coordinator Heather Hunt described the program. 

“Our goal is to resolve early traumatic experiences by deepening healthy relationships. Foster parents are crucial in this process and we need them now more than ever,” said Heather. “We currently have over 4,000 children in the Montana foster care system and many are waiting for permanent homes.”

The process begins by training families, completing the licensing process, and making a match with a waiting child that is a good fit for the family. They provide individual and family therapy and in-home support for when and if things become difficult. PFC continues to support families beyond adoption with outpatient therapy and educational opportunities.

Home support services are vital to the success of Partnership for Children. Ashton advises other parents to utilize respite time. 

“Since we’re all in treatment in this program, it’s so beneficial to take a break,” said Ashton.

Sarah’s advice is to be your best advocate. “You know what you need. There’s nothing wrong with being the squeaky wheel to get the specific help you need, and PFC has provided such amazing support during the past six months we’ve had Issac in our home,” said Sarah.

There is an undeniable connection among Sarah, Ashton, and Issac. Isaac snuggled up next to Ashton and easily expressed himself, often with humor, in a way that brought forth his personality and served as a testimony for the safe, nurtured life he now leads.

While challenges from his past and present will never be completely absent, the frequency and severity are much less with the love and support of Partnership for Children and his foster parents. And that’s the goal—giving a child the opportunity to value him or herself, and loving them all the while.