Chris and Kelli Diller of Chanute have been foster parents for almost three months.
Kelli Diller said they were licensed March 1 and had two foster children three days later.
“It’s been a huge adjustment from our home life before because we were empty nesters,” she said. “There’s kids in the home again so there’s more laundry, more cooking, more cleaning.”
Diller also said there is more joy and laughter in their home, so it has been a positive change.
“We went into foster care because we knew of the need and we still felt like we had lots of love to give,” she said. “It has been proven because of the number of calls (about children needing placement in foster homes) every day.”
Diller said there are challenges in foster care, the rewards outweigh the struggle.
“When you know that you have taught a child something or they have stepped to the next milestone, it helps you sleep easier at night to know that you can’t change the whole world but you can help one kid at a time,” she said.
Diller said foster care is a good place for anyone with love in their heart.
“If we can do foster care, anybody can,” she said. “There’s nothing special. It’s just wanting to make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Chris Diller agreed that there have been new challenges in foster care.
“We had a lifetime to teach our kids,” he said. “Some of the children that we get, the ones we have now, are eight and thirteen.”
Diller said helping children at that age learn the life skills they taught their own children can be a challenge.
“Because of the fact that we did raise our kids we have the experience to navigate that quickly,” he said.
Diller said seeing a child understand something important is one of the best feelings.
“It is just cool seeing them get something when the switch turns on and they get it,” he said. “Teaching them something new or reaching an emotional place in that kid’s life where they recognize their own personal intrinsic value, it doesn’t get better than that.”
Diller said foster care is important because it helps children in difficult situations.
“Foster care is kind of a harbor in the middle of a storm,” he said. “They have a storm in their lives, and they didn’t cause it, but foster care is a place where the situation gets rectified.”
TFI Foster Care Worker Christine Denney said there is a need for more foster parents in the area.
“There is especially a need for kids preteen to teen, but there’s kids in southeast Kansas that need placement every day,” she said.
Denney said the highest need is for parents who want to foster teen boys and girls.
“We have some foster homes in town that just take teens,” she said. “They would easily mentor new foster parents.”
There is a 10-week class starting June 30 for those interested in becoming foster parents. The Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting class will run 6 to 9 p.m. every week starting June 30 at Cherry Street Youth Center, 710 N. Forest. For more information on the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting class, visit TFI online at http://www.tfifamilyservices.org or call (800) 279-9914.