Weaver takes care of children
By By LYDIA GRIMES Features writer
Foster parents are honored in the month of May for their dedication of looking after children who are often at risk for various reasons.
Currently there are more than 5,000 children in Alabama who are in foster care. Some need a home for a few days while others may need foster care for a longer period. Some of these children are waiting to be reunited with family and others are waiting for adoption.
It takes a special person to step up and become a foster parent for someone who may be moving on in a few short weeks.
One of those special people is Frances Lewis. She has been not only a foster parent to 15 children, but she has done it as a single parent. She came into the system on the advice of a friend who thought she would be ideal to parent children who were in need.
Lewis decided that she would take the training required by the foster care program.
These days, to become a foster parent, there are several requirements that must be met. Applicants must complete a 30-hour preparation course to prepare them and their home must conform to certain guidelines, including enough space for the children and their belongings. All members of the family must be ready to share their home with the foster children and all adults in the household must undergo a thorough background check.
The children who become part of the foster care system are those who have been removed from their home for various reasons, such as neglect or physical or sexual abuse. They may have backgrounds or experiences that place them at risk. Siblings are placed together if al all possible.
Most people think of foster children as small children, but this is not always the case. There is a great need for foster care for teens and those with physical or emotional problems. Lewis has kept her share of the little ones, but she has been the caregiver for several teens in her eight years of being a foster parent. In many ways these teens need more care and understanding than the younger children. They have often been abused over a period of time and the scars are deeper.
Some of these still stay in touch with Lewis, even though they have moved on into either homes or group homes. It seems that they all leave their marks on her, but some more than others.
Lewis has praise for the people with whom she works through the Department of Human Resources.
Lewis was born near Brewton and reared by her mother. Her father died in the Korean Conflict and she, along with a sister, were reared in a single parent home. Her mother worked as a domestic and gave the girls all she could, including a respect for family life.
She attended Oak Grove School, which was located on Pea Ridge Road, and went to Southern Normal High School where she graduated in 1966. She loved to play sports and was in the band. She sang in the choir and, as she said, " was a "B" student."
She was able to go to college at Payne College in Birmingham and got her associates degree. She went to Alabama A&M in Huntsville for a year until she became so homesick, she came back home to Brewton and entered Jefferson Davis Junior College, studying business administration.
It was while she was still in school that the opportunity came that gave her the job she has been working at ever since. A job became available at Southern Normal teaching kindergarten and she took the position. She went to Stillman College in Tuscaloosa to get some more training in education. She was never graduated but did receive a certificate to teach kindergarten.
While she was teaching kindergarten at Southern Normal, there was no organized kindergarten in the school system. After that became a part of the curriculum, the school at Southern Normal became a preschool and is now a daycare.
Rottschafer Day Care has been in operation since 1967 and Frances Lewis has been a part of it for the past 35 years.
She teaches the youngest group of children who attend Rottschafer so is well prepared to meet the needs of those little ones who come under her care as a foster parent.
Lewis is very active in Mt. Triumph Church where she is a member. She likes to speed walk when she has the time between her work and the looking after her foster kids.