Fostering with the Fosters

By Ellen Tschimperle, Social Worker- Adult Foster Care Licensor

For eighteen years, Tim and Cindy Foster of Monticello, have provided adult foster care to numerous adults with mental health illness in their family home. Family adult foster care providers are a strong part of our communities that often get overlooked.

May is National Foster Care month, and also Mental Health month. Awareness of both of these groups is needed now more than ever. According to the Community Adult Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI) website, “Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through ‘will power’ and are not related to a person’s ‘character or intelligence.” The stigma around Mental Illness is rampant and has a real and negative impact on the ability for individuals to seek help.

Tim Foster grew up in his family home with a father that provided adult foster care (AFC). Growing up in this type of setting gave him a knowledge of AFC that many people do not have. So, when as a married man he came across a neighbor from down the street that a needed a new home after his group home closed, Tim knew family AFC was an option. A phone call to the County by his wife Cindy led them to becoming licensed for AFC and able to provide a loving home to dozens of adults throughout the years.

When asked if the Fosters had anything to say to someone who is hesitant to care for individuals with mental health illness, Tim responded that “the majority of people with mental health issues just want to be seen as a person, a human being and to be treated with respect.” Most individuals, whom Tim and Cindy have worked with, have gained independence in learning new life skills. While some individuals stay in foster care lifelong, some build their skills enough to move out into an independent living situation.

The Fosters also held a child foster care license with Wright County for many years, which allowed them to also provide care to children. One of these children, Kristin, was later adopted by Tim and Cindy as an adult. Kristin credits Tim and Cindy with making a substantial impact on her life and without them she does not know where she would be today. With their influence, Kristin has chosen to use her skills gained living in this fostering environment and now works as a personal care assistant (PCA) for a local social service company.

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