DuBOIS — Lifespan Family Services, which provides foster care and adoption services, has a new DuBois location.
“We had a much smaller unit in another area of the DuBois Mall,” said Lifespan Executive Director Patrick Shea at Tuesday’s grand opening and ribbon cutting event held by the Greater DuBois Chamber of Commerce. “Because of our growth, we needed to have larger space. We really liked this unit because it was very big and it was very centrally located. The mall’s been very good to us. We’ve gotten lots of new foster parents from people walking by. They stop in and ask questions. That’s why we’re working to stay here.”
Lifespan, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit headquartered in Punxsutawney, was founded approximately 10 years ago, Shea said.
“Because of growth, we had a lot of children being placed from Clearfield and other counties,” he said. “This was centrally located, right off of Interstate 80. It’s right at the edge of Clearfield and Jefferson counties, so it’s very convenient for the families and the counties that do business with us to pop in and drop off children, and sometimes belongings, or paperwork, or whatever needs dropped off.”
Shea said Lifespan was begun because the area was underserved with foster parents. Quite often children from Clearfield and Jefferson counties had to be sent two or three hours away.
“That makes it hard to visit their family, makes it hard for the county caseworkers to go visit the children, and it makes it expensive because if they’re driving one way and then maybe they spend an hour or two with the child then return, that’s an entire day for one case,” Shea said. “A county may have 100 or more cases, and they just don’t have the manpower for distant placements.”
Plus, there’s a fresh push over the last few years to keep children in their home school districts so that when they’re taken out of their home they might remain in the same school district so that they can continue with friendships and the relationship with their teachers and have a little continuity with their education, Shea said.
“They find that that allows for the child to have a much more stable situation when they have something familiar,” Shea said. “They’re losing home, maybe Grandma, maybe that pet, and sometimes their siblings. If they can have that school experience intact, that’s very helpful. That’s what we have really strived to address is providing local homes for local kids. That has been the key to our growth, and that’s why we’re expanding here.”
Shea said Lifespan, which just opened a third office in New Stanton, employs 26 people who serve virtually all of central and western Pennsylvania.
“It’s been very refreshing when people talk foster care to have our name mentioned regularly. We’re very proud of that,” Shea said.