Foster care – A rewarding opportunity

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, May 21, 2023

Casey Cothran is a Crenshaw County native who now resides in south Montgomery County. As a teenager, she became acquainted with the foster care system, an experience which motivated her to become a foster parent and eventually an adoptive mother.

“My sisters were taken into foster care when they were infants,” Cothran said. “I was an older teenager, and I was really thankful that they had somewhere safe to go stay with while our parents kind of figured things out.”

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to salute parents, like Cothran, who have stepped up to answer the call to change the world, one child at a time.

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Jennifer Butts with the Crenshaw County office of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) said there are more than 5,700 children in Alabama needing foster care. Currently, there are only just over 2,360 foster care homes.

Butts explained that foster homes can offer long-term care, emergency care, or respite care, which provides relief to foster parents when needed.

“They do respite for other foster families, like if they have a death in their family or need to go out of town,” Butts said. “Many people don’t know that they can do that.

Cothran said she felt called to foster in 2018, but as a young single woman, did not want to wait for marriage to follow her dream.

“It was something that I really wanted to do and I didn’t want to have to wait for marriage and everything else to follow that dream,” Cothran said. “I had a lot of people tell me that kids need a mom and a dad. But I think kids who need a home just need someone to love them.”

Unsure of the requirements, Cothran reached out to DHR and talked with Butts about fostering. Since then, she has fostered 13 children and eventually adopted four of those – Eli, Emma, and Lexi.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You’re able to do what works best for your family while still providing that loving home for kids in need,” Cothran said. “I used to do long-term placement because I had the time and availability to do so but now that my family has grown, I’m only able to do respite care. Both ways of fostering make a difference. So even if the families feel like they just don’t have the time or availability, but they still feel the calling, they can just do it short term. Every little bit helps!”

Babysitters for children in foster care must be licensed as foster parents, so now Cothran provides respite or emergency care and finds great rewards in continuing to help children in need of a home.

“I’ve been very blessed to foster because while it’s not common with foster parents, I’m able to keep in touch with all of my previous foster placements in one way or another,” Cothran said. “I still get to see how they are doing and how they are growing. When I began fostering, I was afraid of getting too attached and having a hard time letting gone. So, keeping in touch has been a blessing. Then seeing them go home to their family is rewarding.”

Fostering comes with its challenges too, Cothran noted.

“These kids come from different backgrounds,” she said. “They come with a lot of trauma and sometimes that’s really challenging because you don’t exactly know how to help them. Sometimes it can be a little scary with their behaviors. But DHR has always been very hands-on and if I ever needed help or advice they were always there for me.”

Cothran recommends people interested in fostering pray about the decision.

“When you know it’s the right thing, you just sort of know,” Cothran said. “It’s a big undertaking, but it’s very rewarding. And it’s worth it. Even with the challenges, I’ve never regretted doing it.”

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit