TAMPA, Fla. — As the shock and grief begin to settle over the tragic death of 2-year-old Jordan Belliveau, some people are taking action to make a difference in the foster care system.
Dozens of them attended a foster parent orientation meeting Sunday hosted by A Door of Hope. That’s the same foster program Jordan’s foster parents worked through when they cared for him.
The boy’s body was found last Tuesday in Largo after a three-day search that his mother Charisse Stenson initiated, claiming the toddler was abducted. Stenson has been arrested, accused of killing her own son. But his death has generated new interest in people fostering children.
“We don’t want what has happened to keep going on,” said prospective foster parent Brittainy Beaver, “And we want to be there to advocate for those children and to love them and support them and give them homes that they need.”
The orientation first teaches them that fostering children is a long-term commitment. Aaron and Jolene Slavik made that commitment 17 months ago when they decided to foster two small children in addition to raising their own two kids. They say Jordan’s death has made their work more challenging.
“I have to remember that our case is not Jordan’s case,” said Aaron Slavik. “And the biological parents of our foster kids are not Jordan’s biological parents, so it’s a different situation, but it all comes back to what is our mission is to love these kids.”
There are approximately 6,000 children in and out of the foster care system in Pasco and Pinellas counties every year. There are more children in need of foster parents than there are people willing to foster them.
“You can come up with every reason why you should not be a foster parent,” Jolene Slavik said. “Now is the time to be a foster parent. We need foster parents now. Not when the broken system is fixed. We need them now.”