Skookum Kids expanding free training to Ferndale

BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON-- Local nonprofit Skookum Kids is hosting the first Caregiver Core Training in the Ferndale area as part of an increased effort to reach community members in the greater Whatcom County region.

“The state has hosted Caregiver trainings in the past, but they’ve always been in Bellingham,” Skookum Kids’ director, Ray Deck, said. “They thought Bellingham was close enough, we disagree. The people in the greater Whatcom County area deserved one closer to them.”

The Caregiver Core Training is the first step in that licensing process for individuals and couples interested in being foster parents. It covers topics related to the foster care system, caring for children who’ve experienced trauma and the effects of foster care on the family as a whole.

“Many of the children that are removed from their family of origin reside outside Bellingham city-limits,” Ryan Burke, director of Skookum Parents, said. “By having more foster homes available in the county areas, it increases the chance that those children can be placed close to their communities, schools and places of worship, maintaining those vital relationships.”

Skookum’s Caregiver Core Training is open to anyone interested in being a foster parent, regardless of whether they are being licensed through the state or a private agency. It will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church at 858 W. Smith Road. It’s spread out over a period of eight weeknights beginning Oct. 23-26. The class takes a week-long break and convenes again Nov. 6-9. The class times are 6-9 pm. Onsite childcare is provided.

According to the Child Well-Being Data Portal, there were 317 children in foster care in Whatcom County as of July 1, 2017. But, according to the Bellingham office of the Department of Social and Health Services, are only about 95 licensed foster homes and only a fraction of which are still taking children.

Since January 2017, Skookum Parents, Skookum Kids’ private Child Placing Agency (CPA), has licensed 12 families and with about 11 families in the licensing process. They hope to have 200 families licensed by the end of 2020.

The Caregiver Core Training is part of a larger effort to reach more community members in the greater Whatcom County region. That effort includes increased community networking, interest meetings and foster care trainings in the more rural regions of Whatcom County.

Skookum Kids was founded in 2015 by Ray Deck III in Bellingham, Washington. This non-profit organization is dedicated to repairing the foster care system by equipping those already affected by the system and educating those who are not. It is staffed by seven full-time and three part-time employees and over 100 volunteers. For more information, visit their website at www.skookumkids.org.