By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
A patch of grass outside Wood County Children’s Services has been turned into a wonderland for foster children.
With the help of local service organizations and the county commissioners, a playground has been constructed on the grounds of Wood County Job and Family Services on East Gypsy Lane Road. The playground is to be used by foster children visiting with their birth families.
“It’s for family visitation, so kids and their parents can play together in a natural environment,” explained Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services.
During the average week, the Children’s Services office sees about 10 families come to the agency for supervised visitation with children who have been placed in foster care.
“It’s critical that kids have contact with their families,” especially if the goal is reunification in the future, Carsey said.
“The kids are attached to their families. They need to see them. They need to maintain those relationships,” she said.
And the playground gives children an opportunity to do what kids do with their families – go down slides, climb equipment, be pushed on swings.
In the past, Wood County Children’s Services used the Wood Lane facilities for visitation, since there was no space available at Children’s Services. But then an annex was added to Wood County Job and Family Services. The additional space gave families inside room for visits, but no outdoor play area.
“The families really liked having the playground” at Wood Lane, Carsey said.
So area organizations were approached about donating to the playground project. Money was contributed by Modern Woodmen, Bowling Green Exchange Club, and Perrysburg Rotary Club. Other funding was provided by the Wood County Commissioners, to be paid back by Wood County Job and Family Services.
The cost for the playground equipment was $52,000. But with the addition of rubber flooring for safety, the total price was $120,000.
The playground has equipment designed for ages 2 to 12, plus a basketball hoop for older children.