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The Versailles Republican

March 19, 2015 • Headlines

A semi-truck driver had minor injuries after a crash Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. on U.S. 50 just west of SR 129. The truck was hauling 39,000 pounds of paper rolls. The trailer broke near the middle and was unable to be towed until emptied. See an additional photo and driver details in The Versailles Republican. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand. MARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
A Sunman truck driver was not injured when his semi-trailer caught fire on I-65 in Seymour Monday at 2:22 p.m. A few minutes later, a multi vehicle crash closed the north lanes of the interstate for about four hours. Read the entire story in The Versailles Republican. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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A place to belong...
Parents provide another home for foster children

Sandy Day Howard

Editor’s note: Final in a two-part series.

As responsible, caring human beings, we want to believe that no child suffers. Our minds and our hearts want to think that the only children who are hurting are elsewhere in the world. It’s beyond the scope of what we are able to comprehend that that there could be, children living right next to us that are being abused. The Department of Children's Services in Ripley County is forced to remove children from dangerous environments and place them in foster care, more often than any of us want to believe. The sad truth is that more than 90 children live in foster care in our county at any given time. Indiana has nearly 6,000 foster kids. The numbers are increasing, according to Michelle Russell, local office director with the state Dept. of Child Services, Ripley County. She isn’t sure if it is due to awareness of the community to report abuse and neglect, increased substance abuse problems that can lead to neglect/abuse, financial distress or a growing population with mental health issues.

The purpose of the DCS is to protect children from abusive or neglectful environments. When a child can no longer safely stay at home, relatives or other appropriate caretakers are sought. When that isn’t possible, placement with stable families who will open their hearts and homes to children in need is always a priority. Safe, nurturing environments for children who can no longer remain in their own homes due to the risk of abuse, neglect, homelessness, or abandonment are essential. Michelle Russell said, “If service is needed, we try to place the child in the least restrictive place first that will meet their needs, perhaps a non-custodial parent or family member. We try to place in the children’s home community to maintain essential connections for the children such as friends and school. We want to maintain as much stability as we can for these children who have endured the trauma of abuse or neglect and then the trauma of being separated from their parents.” The need for loving environments for children in transition is ongoing. “We are always in need of foster homes,” Russell commented.

Foster parents: Rayburns
Larry and Denice Rayburn of Versailles became involved in foster care about 9 years ago when Denice’s brother had encountered concerns with one of his children. Later, one of Denice’s sons lost parental rights to his child due to drug addiction. That’s when the couple decided to complete licensing requirements and started to offer their home to displaced children. Over the next several years, the Rayburns provided care for 19 children, two of which they later adopted. They also have assumed guardianship for 3 others. At one point, the couple had 12 children living in their home. “The movie ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ became one of my favorites!” Denice laughs.

Larry and Denice Rayburn


Larry and Denice Rayburn, pictured left, are foster parents.

Most of the children who come to the Rayburns home arrive with only the clothes they are wearing. Indiana provides a one time $200 allotment for clothing, when a child goes into placement, and a monthly per diem during the time they are in care. (Rates vary depending on the needs of the child.)

The couple is responsible for all the normal things parents do for their natural children. They take them to medical and dental appointments, support them in their activities and school, and are happy for their accomplishments. They help the teens study for their driver's test, go to their extracurricular activities and encourage them to get part-time jobs to help them learn responsibility and money management. The foster mom says she’s very proud of the teens in her home. “They have overcome tragedies to become outstanding kids.”

About the kids

“I have three teenage boys; two are graduating this year. My son, who attends South Ripley, has two jobs, and he is on the fire department, a first responder, takes welding at the vocational school, has joined the National Guard and plans on attending Vincennes or Ivy Tech to become a police officer. The other boy is graduating from Jac-Cen-Del and has worked at the same job for two years, had his truck paid for before he got his license, wrote an essay and was chosen to go with on a two-week trip to Yellowstone Park last summer with Kendall Hankins and the AYOU program. He plans on going to Ivy Tech and majoring in business management. The other young man had a dream of playing basketball for South Ripley, but he never had the opportunity to play in the youth programs as a child. He began practicing daily and one summer grew almost five inches. He is now 6 foot 3 inches and plays on the JV team at South Ripley. He works and is taking automotive repair at the vocational school and plans on getting further education in that field after graduation.” “Then there’s our ‘BOO BOO’.” Denice continued, “That’s the name my grandson gave this little guy when he came here with a feeding tube and oxygen after his mother’s boyfriend shoved a baby wipe down his throat. I met the emergency room doctor that took care of him that night and he told me he was 60 seconds away from death.”

“For six months, he had to be fed every two hours and have the feeding tube changed every seven days. He very seldom cried. You could tell in those beautiful green eyes the wheels were turning in that little brain of his. Today he goes to Versailles Baptist Church Preschool and is very creative. His imagination is always going. He will be an important person in our future. Larry and I adopted that little boy and he’s made our lives an adventure every day!”

Even though the children who live in the Rayburn’s home are not ‘blood relatives,’ they live together as brothers and sisters. At the Rayburns, the kids refer to each other in that way, as sisters and brothers. They call Denice and Larry ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. One of the kids, who now lives at the Rayburn house, has said that she would like to be a foster parent one day. “My foster family is the only real family I have had or could ever ask for. When I was little, I lived in a house that was not fun. But, now that I live with the Rayburns, I’ve had so many life changing events happen!” The couple says that they do all the things they did before they became foster parents; they just do it with more people now. “We still go out to eat, to movies, fishing, on vacations, and for those who are old enough, hunting. That’s our favorite. My grandson says our house is always busy,” laughed Denice.

The Rayburn’s own family is very supportive of their foster home, according to Denice. “They welcome these kids to all of our family activities with open arms.” There are those few people who might whisper that the couple is ‘in it for the money.’ There is no amount of money that can pay for the pain you see in these kids’ eyes,” Denice responds. The couple is often praised by people in the community for what they do. The real praise, Denice says, should go to the kids who have overcome the trauma of their childhoods to be well on their way to happy lives.

“It’s not easy, but nothing in life worth doing is ever easy,” reflected the mom. “The hardest part of fostering isn’t taking care of the kids. It’s trying to help the parents want to change their life so that they can spend it with their children.”
The goal for every child who is removed from a home is reunification with their natural parents. Sometimes, through parenting classes, counseling, and provisional requirements families are able to overcome the issues that caused the separation and the child can be returned to their parents’ custody. Sometimes they can’t.

The month of May has been designated National Foster Care Month. For more information on fostering contact Ripley County Department of Children's Services (DCS) at 812-689-6295. For a list of rules to become a foster parent read the article on the front page of The Versailles Republican. Pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican at your local newsstand.

Pick up this week's edition of The Versailles Republican for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Versailles looks into hard water (front page)
• National Agriculture Week March 15-21 (section B, pages 1-6)
• On The Record From the Ripley County Courthouse (section B, page 9)
• Rube Goldberg winners (page 7)
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