Governor Mary Fallin recently urged Oklahoman’s to consider becoming a foster or adoptive parent to one of the over 11,000 children in Oklahoma. “They need foster families to love and support them during their time of need,” said Fallin.
made a choice to get involved after hearing how many children in Oklahoma needed help. They have been a foster “bridge” family through the Southwestern Youth Services and the Department of Human Services since December 2015. The Kampa family was chosen by SWYS as the February Foster Family for 2016, and are being recognized for the help they have given to children and the state.
Joe and Dina felt they could be a positive influence in the life of a child, “There are too many children out there that need an adult to treat them fairly, listen, give them guidance, and structure,” they said.
Joe and Dina have been married for almost 24 years. They have two daughters of their own, ages 21 and 13. Joe has been a sales professional for the past 20 years, and will be celebrating his 50th birthday this year. Dina has been active duty Air Force for over 25 years, both enlisted and as an officer, and wants to be a positive role model to everyone she meets. They both come from a blended family with older brothers and sisters. Joe was born in Washington state and was raised in Louisiana. Dina was born and raised in Maine.
“Kids have to be allowed to make mistakes while building them up,” they said. They both realize that a foster child may live in multiple homes and the child may feel that they do not have to keep their grades up, do their homework, help do chores, or be responsible for their actions because they will sooner or later move again and start over. The Kamps want to leave an impression and have an impact on a child’s life. “We want to allow children to believe in themselves, learn how to be responsible, take care of themselves by taking pride in their positive accomplishments, and learn how to pick themselves up after they make a mistake, or fail,” they said.
While living in the Kampa home, children also learn basic life skills and how to deal with conflict and work out problems.
The Kampas feel strongly that it’s all part of being a mentor, coach and parent. “Fostering is very fulfilling and exciting, but there are challenges and struggles when a child comes into the home and adjusts to another new environment. This is where patience, kindness and understanding is needed by the child and family, and words of encouragement and understanding are spoken, along with proper redirection.”
The hardest part of fostering said Joe and Dina, is being patient and remembering the foster child did not have the same upbringing as other children. They have different opinions about responsibility, ownership, cleanliness, manners and respect. “A wonderful rewarding part of fostering is knowing we can still learn as parents,” said Dina. “Our foster child has taught us to slow down, concentrate on the root of the problem, and how to grow as a family for everyone to benefit.”
In the 2015 OKDHS Foster Care Report, 72 Jackson County children are reported to be in and out of home placement. Many of these children are placed in other counties in our state, and that is one reason SWYS is striving to increase awareness of the desperate need for foster care and emergency host homes.
The Kampa’s word of advice to those considering becoming a foster family is to UNDERSTAND. “The foster child is going through their own personal issues, and may not know boundaries or limitations. One vital and very important thing to remember is that the foster child needs you. You are their positive reinforcement that will help teach them confidence. With all of your help and nurturing they can be successful and positive young adults who know going forward their is a better future.”
For more information on SWYS Foster Care and Host Home programs, call 580-482-2809 or visit www.swys.org.