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Oklahoma nonprofit group to end foster care

BY DARLA SLIPKE Published: December 13, 2009

Janice Barry has been a therapeutic foster parent through Sunbeam since 2003. During that time, Barry has had seven foster children stay at her home, and she even adopted one girl who couldn’t return to her parents.

Barry said she and other foster families are still absorbing the news that Sunbeam is stopping therapeutic services.

"I was really shocked,” Barry said.

"I was sad because we were one big family.”

Barry was concerned about what would happen to her family. She has a 6-year-old foster child staying with her now.

On Thursday, Sunbeam invited other local agencies with therapeutic foster care services to visit Sunbeam’s foster families and discuss future options.

"That was just a blessing,” Barry said. "They didn’t leave us out in the cold.”

Barry made an appointment to meet with someone from Southwest Foster Care next week. She said the staff was welcoming.

Sunbeam will continue to offer emergency, transitional and contracted foster care services, as well as a variety of early childhood, senior and counseling services.

The state Department of Human Services will continue to work with Sunbeam through the agency’s emergency and contracted foster care programs, a spokeswoman said.

About 900 children and adolescents throughout the state are in therapeutic foster care programs, said Laura Boyd, executive director of Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association.

The state has 13 therapeutic foster care agencies, including six that serve the Oklahoma City area, Boyd said.

She said association officials were sad to hear Sunbeam will stop therapeutic foster care services.

"We support Sunbeam in making tough decisions that they have to make,” Boyd said. "We think it’s a quality program with quality providers. It is a huge piece of history that’s drawing to a close.”

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