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West Michigan agency in 'dire need' of foster parents for Afghan kids

Unaccompanied Afghan kids are in need of temporary homes.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was about five months ago when American troops withdrew from Afghanistan, sending the troubled country into even more chaos. Families fled the country, as it quickly fell to the Taliban.  

Now some of those youngest refugees have arrived in West Michigan, and the search is underway to find them foster homes. 

Young kids ranging from pre-teens to 17 are here, separated from their family amid chaos in their home country looking for a foster family.

"There are a number of Afghan male foster youth that are here in Grand Rapids and they are in need of a stable, loving home," says Shereen Abunada.

Abunada is the director of operations of the Muslim Foster Care Association. The organization has joined forces with Bethany Christian Services asking if anyone is willing to open their doors and provide a home for young refugees who need a place to call home.

"They come from a lot of trauma. They come from a lot of turmoil in their home country and they really hope that here in America they can have a brighter future," says Abunada. 

Bethany Christian Services wants to help these young kids achieve their goals and dreams. The organization is doing so by hosting a virtual webinar to encourage people here in West Michigan to become foster parents.

"So right now, we have a dire need for families to be licensed as foster parents or small group homes to help welcome unaccompanied Afghan children. So, we're hosting an event to talk about the issue and give families context of the need and ask for their support," says Beth Caldwell, assistant branch director of refugee and immigrant services of West Michigan at Bethany Christian Services. 

Caldwell says most people are eligible to become foster parents, like Silas and Coryn Mittelstaedt. The West Michigan couple is fostering a 12-year-old boy. They admit it is challenging but very rewarding.

"It's super exciting to watch the kids become more comfortable and watch them start to learn English or start to thrive in school and our foster son, he likes to tinker and build things and it's just great to see a kid start being a kid again," says Silas Mittelstaedt. 

Bethany Christian Services is hosting a virtual webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 2 and Tuesday, Feb. 8 to provide information and answer questions from anyone interested in becoming a foster parent. For more information and how to register, click here.

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