“Right now you have the power to say, ‘I will not let their story end like this.'”
Erin and Richard Strickland are a pair that truly stands out to the Northwest Indiana community. They are foster parents who care about children and hope they can make a difference in their lives.
For Erin, she’s always had a passion instilled in her to help children. She has worked in child support for 12 years, and wants to help make a difference in people’s lives.
“We’re not able to have children of our own,” said Erin. “We do want kids in our lives, and we do want to be a part of something. There are so many kids in our area and in Indiana in general that need a good home.”
In 2017, the Porter County Court Appointed Special Advocate program served almost 400 children whose families needed court intervention because of abuse or neglect. For Erin, the kids have changed her outlook on life. She and Richard have provided a home for children to stay, and for familiar faces to look up to in a time that can be chaotic, and sometimes traumatizing.
“These kids are just so innocent. They don’t know what life is about yet or what their situation even is, it’s just being able to keep them sheltered from all of that and just to love them as they should be,” said Erin.
For all the parents out there taking classes to become a foster home, it can be rewarding and stressful. For Erin, she keeps the children in mind. She wants them to feel loved and at home. She wants to comfort them in a time that can be invasive. For children who are removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, they often see new faces come and go. Whether it be social workers, their parents, or those from the Department of Child Services (DCS) checking in on them. The most important part in all of this is a familiar face.
“You have to focus on what the most important thing is through all of this, and that’s the kids,” said Erin. “It can sometimes feel invasive, you have people in your life when you have DCS or whatever organization you are working with coming into your home. It can be stressful, but these kids are worth it. Someone has to stand up for them and I feel that’s part of what our job is. We have to advocate for these children.”
The Stricklands have fostered two children so far, focusing on one child at a time. She believes there is a need to have more loving foster homes to shelter these children from the situations they are in.
“There’s such a need to have more children, and it depends on the child’s placement,” said Erin. “It’s a smooth process. There are classes you have to take that are local and that are available depending on the county you are in. No matter what questions you might have, they make it very easy to get information on becoming a foster parent. They are very willing to help you with anything you need.”
Erin feels that it is important to help the community and to give back to those who need a helping hand.
“I’m a big believer that it takes a village to raise a child. I come from a big family and everyone’s in each other’s lives and I feel that should be the same for everybody,” said Erin. “These kids are our future. They’re going to have to be the ones who have to step up one day. You try to be a good example and help in ways that you can.”