North Idaho program needs short-term foster families

Author: Robyn Nance, Good Morning Northwest Anchor , robynn@kxly.com
Published On: Aug 01 2012 08:27:56 PM PDT
North Idaho program needs short-term foster families
COEUR D"ALENE, Idaho -

The fact that Foster parents can see children come and go can be daunting for some people. But, one North Idaho program needs families who can make 3 week commitments to teenagers in need.

Fran and Vic Bess are part of the Crosswalk North Idaho program formerly known as Project Safe Place. They live in a picturesque home in Rathdrum complete with acreage, amazing views, fountains and an outdoor basketball court. And The Besses' home isn't a home without a few foster children.

"We've had about 2,000 (kids) total," said Fran Bess.

Brandi Smitherman is the program director for the Volunteers of America Agency. The agency offers a daytime drop-in center, with lots of resources available. However it in desperate need for families like the Besses' to be a host home.

"It's a safe alternative for couch-surfing. Often times it's used to prevent the situation within the home from becoming volatile while they're with us. We work for the three weeks getting other support systems in place and/or identifying an alternative placement at the end of 21 days," said Smitherman, "We, right now, are the only shelter that will take youth, especially boys over the age of 13 that are not accompanied by an adult."

A lot can happen in that time, however, the biggest thing for young people is to step away from their situation and regroup.

"Just the fact that they can come out here. They can go over there and play on their own. They can wander through the trees a little bit and it's not like the city. they don't feel like it's a jail," said Vic Bess

For the most part, this kids are just people who need a little help.

"Our kids aren't bad, they aren't scary. You know, in the five years I've been here, we've never had a fight at the drop-in center. We've never had a fight at the drop in center. We've never had a host home family that's (had items) stolen or assaulted. The cops don't come here. They're great kids. They just need an opportunity to learn the same thing that children that are raised within a family learn," said Smitherman.

For the past 25 years, that what the Besses' have focused on, family.

"They call us grandma and grandpa," said Fran Bess.

And these grandparents are still in contact with those who have come through their doors.

"I hope that whatever we had here to give, they can take and move forward with that," said  Fran Bess

There are now only two host homes in North Idaho.

If you would like information on the program or to donate or volunteer at Crosswalk North Idaho, call 208-416-4747.

The crisis number for struggling teenagers or families is 208-676-0772.