* Visit www.ch-cs.org
* Call 423-698-2456
* Email Paulette Acord, email@example.com to volunteer
The Children's Home and the Chambliss Shelter merged in 1982 and now provide child care for more than 350 children ranging from infants to 12-year-olds. The nonprofit organization is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It's not easy to become a foster parent - candidates must complete a stringent nine-week training course that covers everything from CPR to cultural awareness.
Now, candidates can take that course at the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter in Chattanooga. Tennessee designated the organization a Parents As Tender Healers training facility earlier this year, allowing staff members to train hundreds of potential foster parents.
"In this area, there are about 300 to 400 children in state custody, just in Hamilton County," Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter President and CEO Phil Acord said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday. "We know there is a tremendous need out there for foster homes. The recruiting, training and follow-up with these people is critical."
This is the first time the Children's Home has had both the space and the equipment needed to win the three-year training contract from the state, he said. The Children's Home used a $25,000 gift from the law firm Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel to renovate and equip five rooms for the program.
The money went toward supplies such as projectors, speakers, furniture, paint and computers, training director Johanna Jensen said. Since May, the Children's Home has trained about 200 potential parents in the renovated space.
"We give them an overview of the child welfare system so people know what to expect and are aware of some of the challenges they'll face," she said. "We make them aware of the trauma some of these children have gone through and how that trauma manifests itself in behaviors."
Acord said the PATH designation and renovated facilities allow the Children's Home to reach a large pool of foster parent candidates throughout Southeast Tennessee.
"Before, all we had were our own foster homes," he said. "Now we're training the foster parents for all human services throughout the Tennessee Valley."
He added that the program also will meet the need for local training.
"Some of our largest classes are right here in Hamilton County, so some of our greatest need is right here in Hamilton County," he said.
Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel managing partner Dana Perry said the law firm gave the $25,000 in honor of the firm's 125th anniversary.
"I cannot think of a better celebration," she said.