The Ohrts- Champions for Foster Kids

By Kathy Ohrt, Treehouse Caregiver

My husband James and I started our journey to becoming foster parents eight years ago when our niece went into care and we agreed to become her caregivers. At her first court date, we were highly encouraged to become licensed as foster parents and so we did. Throughout all of our foster parent trainings we heard about the huge need for caregivers for teens so once our niece aged out of care we decided to remain foster parents and parented teens for the next five years. It was tough work but we loved it. We decided to mix it up a few years ago and began focusing on caring for younger children with major medical needs/condition(s). While these kids face a completely different set of challenges, we’ve learned that at the core all kids need the same thing, someone to love them.

The Ohrts

These days life with four young, medically fragile kids in the home is go, go, go and starts bright and early at 6am! Once we get all of the kids off to their different schools, we immediately start getting organized and prepped for a multitude of afternoon activities. All of the kids have a variety of sports and therapies throughout the week on top of their ongoing medical appointments. We also often need to squeeze in midday visits to the schools to make sure that all of the kids’ special needs are met–this can be an ongoing battle. Trying to coordinate a schedule that fits all of this in and works for all parties involved can truly be a full-time job!

We tackle our challenges by taking one day at a time and with a lot of support from our family, the community, and a variety of local support programs, such as Foster Champs. Mary Bridge Hospital is our constant support for our kids’ medical needs and Child Find has ensured that our kids receive the evaluations they need for special education services. Treehouse has helped in many ways, helping to pay for kids’ sports and lessons through Little Wishes, providing clothes and school supplies at the Wearhouse, and helping supply us with tickets to fun events for the whole family. I remember getting a baby straight from the hospital that really did not have much clothing, and we were able to go to the Treehouse Wearhouse and get the things we needed for her right away!

Being foster parents has enriched our lives in so many ways. We love knowing that the children that come into our house develop a sense of being loved and wanted. We have learned how to better children’s lives with all of the ongoing training and experience we’ve picked up over the years and we love passing on this knowledge to birth parents helping them grow and provide nurturing environments for their children to return to. Our goal is to have youth return to their birth parent(s) if all possible, and by including the parent(s) in all the needed steps, from going to a kid’s doctor’s appointment to keeping them up to date on what is happening at school, we are helping strengthen that parent and building a strong connection between our families that often remains even when kids return home. Of course it can be sad when kids leave our house but we are happy to see families reunited.

We love working with kids and families and seeing them thrive makes all the work worth it!

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About the Author

Kathy Ohrt has been a devoted caregiver for more than eight years and is currently the foster mom to four children in the Maple Valley area. We are so grateful for dedicated caregivers like Kathy and her husband James who make a difference in the lives of kids in foster care, sticking with them through thick and thin and helping them form healthy lifelong relationships.


Comment (1)


June 4, 2017

Kathy Horst seem like a cool foster mom


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