It is estimated that one in six people are born with some type of developmental disability. Since 1981, Toward Maximum Independence has provided independent living services, serving as a vendor with the San Diego Regional Center. TMI, like many other nonprofit agencies has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as its search for resource families (foster care families) has declined. TMI supports youth and adults ages 0-22 with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are unable to remain with their family of origin.
Director of Family Support Services Paola Osuna said its resource family program is its inhouse foster care program that works with individuals who require out of home placement. TMI supports clients of the San Diego Regional Center, a nonprofit committed to empower persons with developmental disabilities and their families. But she said that it has not hindered the amount of support that it provides resource families.
“We took a big hit with the pandemic,” said Osuna. “We saw a significant decrease in the number of individuals that are able to sign up to become a resource parent. I think people were just so overwhelmed, our lives changed, and I think they did not think that they could add on something new. This is really an awarding thing to do. Not only will you make a significant positive impact in the life of the youth placed with you. It is also a great financial opportunity. Many parents now are staying at home or working from home. Resource parents do receive a monthly stipend to help with the cost of placement.”
Osuna said the most common diagnoses of children, youth and young adults are in the autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and that many have a dual diagnosis where there is a mental health component.
“But rest assured that we supply all of the support services to make these placements successful,” said Osuna.
Osuna said she believes when people hear the words foster care, the immediately think County, Child Protective Services and removal.
“There is no experience required,” she said. “We will fully train you. We feel that everybody has a great potential if they are open and willing to provide a warm, loving and stable home, and if they are willing to work collaboratively as a team. We will teach you the tools on how to make these placements successful.”
For more information about TMI’s Resource Family program, visit www.tmi-inc.org.