Certified babysitter training to benefit East Texas foster families

Gift of Love: Fostering Collective

WHITEHOUSE, Texas (KLTV) - If you’re a parent, then it’s likely that you know the value of a babysitter when you need a moment to break away. When it comes to finding one, a family member or a friend will usually suit the job just fine.

But that luxury isn’t one that’s allotted to all parents.

“You don't get to send the kids next doors so you can run to Brookshire’s and pick up a loaf of bread,” said Co-found of The Fostering Collective Christi Sowell.

Sowell is not only a former foster parent to multiple children but a source of support for families throughout East Texas who take on this unique responsibility themselves.

Our interview took place in The Fostering Collective new home in Whitehouse. Inside their warehouse is a closet full of everything a new parent could ever need for their child.

“A lot of the onesies are the things that we need and then we start getting into the little dressy clothes,” said Closet Manager Ellen Winegeart as she gave us a tour through the packed aisles of necessities. “We’ve got pack n’ plays and lots of mats for the children to play on.”

But as both Sowell and Winegeart explained, having the physical materials to support a child is just part of the battle.

While foster parents are busy supporting their new foster children, those parents soon find out they need a support system, too.

“Over 50% of the families quit after the first year due to lack of support,” said Sowell. “50%. So they’ve got through all this hard training, they’ve gone through the inspections and what not and they still can’t do it.”

So when it comes time for a parental break, certified babysitters are desperately needed.

“That’s self-care is so important, just to be able to be living in the trenches day-to-day,” said Sowell. “Taking care of yourself is honestly the first and the very best thing that you can do for your child. And just to give yourself a moment to get in check so you can handle the hard is so important.”

As timing would have it, right in the middle of our interview, a woman dropped off her babysitter training application.

“How fun is this!?” Christi shouted to her partner as she looked over the application. “Thank you for doing this!”

According to Sowell, each year they see the number of people certified babysitters increase in East Texas. But the demand still outweighs the number of certified candidates.

It’s a tough ratio, Sowell and her team hope to see shrink in the future.

“Coming together to do that doesn't just happen anywhere,” said Sowell.

The multi-agency training session is happening this Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Henderson.

It starts at 9 a.m. Lunch will be provided.

For more information on what you’ll need to get started, click here.

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