Mary Fulgum helps children

Mary Fulgum opened her heart and home over 18 years ago to become a foster parent.  The single mother who works at the Sedgwick County Corrections Department Administration office, has enjoyed the rewards of helping children.
“It was definitely an adjustment.  The challenging aspect for me was being a single working person,” Fulgum continued, “You have to be willing to follow the process.  It’s a big commitment.  There are 10 weeks of classes, paper work, and home visits to make sure the house is compliant.”
Fulgum adopted two of the first children placed in her care, Vincent and Whitney, brother and sister.  
“The best part of the experience is watching  them grow and learn. Vincent just graduated from Bluestem High School,” she said proudly.
Fulgum has recently made the change from foster parenting to providing respite for foster parents.
“I’ve decided to do respite until I no longer work full time.  It’s tough supporting all of the kids’ activities and making all the necessary medical visits and appointments for a single working parent.  It’s sad when I’m unable to take a child at a moment’s notice because I work fulltime.” Fulgum added, “Working on the respite side, I can help other foster parents and families.”
Respite for foster parents is way to help foster parents keep their commitment to kids while maintaining their own health and sanity. When it comes to foster children, who may have medical or behavioral issues as a result of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or drug or alcohol exposure, the need for time apart can be even greater. In some cases, a break from the caregiving routine can mean the difference between a successful, stable foster home and foster parent burnout and placement disruption.
Fulgum advised, “Currently there are 171 children in Butler County needing services.  There are  91 in foster or adoptive homes, 50 with relatives, and 22 in group homes. There is always a need.”
Obviously foster parenting can be a lot of work and sometimes exhausting, but it’s easy to see the rewards have been many for the mother as she speaks of sharing her life with children.  
“Each child is unique and has different challenges, but they all need love and a safe place.”
Does she have any advice for others who are considering foster parenting?
“It’s important to remember to help the kids feel a part of your home - your family.  And you have to be willing to work with the birth families.  Be open to them and show them that you care about their child.  That’s important.”


About TFI Family Services
TFI Family Services, Inc. (TFI) provides experience, compassion, quality services and care. The strength as an organization lays in the fact that they do what is best for the children and family. TFI continues to create new resources and develop innovative solutions.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you may submit an application online to recruitment@tfifamily.org, or call the following numbers: TFI Family Services (Kansas) 800-279-9914.