Wright County Commissioner Darek Vetsch comes from what he likes to refer to as a “blended family.” He has a mixture of biological and non-biological children, totaling nine. All the children in this large family may not be his biologically, however, he considers them all his children.
At the April 7 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, Vetsch requested that the board authorize a letter to be sent to Wright County foster care parents.
In his own way, Vetsch knows the time demands that being a foster parent can have. As such, with the “stay at home” executive order from Gov. Tim Walz, Vetsch has found himself taking on a new role he never expected or intended to have – being a teacher to children of different age levels. His experience hammered home the point that foster parents have always taken on a heavy workload, but adding educator to the list deserved some sort of “thank you” gesture.
“I am aware of the struggles of educating school-aged children at home, Vetsch said. “The balance of school work, caring for an infant, plus working full time is a challenge. It got me thinking about the people who provide foster care. They are now educators as well during this unprecedented time.
“I want us, the board, to draft a letter letting them know that we recognize the ‘above-and-beyond’ effort they’re taking on,” he continued. “It’s an enormous amount of work. I want to draft a letter up and be sent on behalf of the county board.”
The last two weeks have been an eye-opener for Vetsch, who finds a way to juggle work and family and the responsibilities both of what those full-time jobs bring. He found that a full plate was going to add a new layer on top of the existing ones. He discovered, as most of us do, that sometimes life finds a way to take more hours out of every week.
His schedule was dialed up to an 11 out of 10 when virtual learning took place. He found the experience humbling. “When my wife and I started spending the last couple of weeks doing schoolwork with my kids, I thought,
‘Oh my! This is hard,’” Vetsch said. “I know the struggles foster care parents may be having. Like me, they were probably not educated to teach fifth grade math.”
Vetsch knows he can administer the school work, but, with the work load and the inevitable distractions at home, is draining.
“It really became apparent to me how challenging it can be – and daunting.” Vetsch said.
At a time when the “new normal” is new too often, Vetsch is finding a way to adapt to his situation. He felt that letting Wright County foster parents know that the selfless acts they do on a daily basis are recognized, respected and understood.
“When you accept children into your home, you’re expected to continue to work. You’re also expected do the dishes, laundry and all household chores.
But now you’re going to tell me that I’m their teacher?” Vetsch said. “This opened my eyes how little bandwidth there is left. I acknowledge how hard this job is because my wife and I been going through it for the last two weeks. A lot of foster homes have multiple kids to educate at home. I thought it was prudent to recognize the effort foster parents are putting in all the time, much less during a pandemic - where all of our lives have changed so significantly. They deserve to be honored.”