Cullman foster home Pilot Light Home currently in search of live-in foster family

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(Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The beds at the Pilot Light Home in Cullman currently stand empty and the search is on by the Pilot Light Home Board to find a foster family for the home. The Pilot Light Home is a 24/7 foster home in the city limits of Cullman that is crucial to helping local foster children remain local when they need it most.  

The Pilot Light Board of Directors is seeking a foster family with the goal of “providing for the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of the children.” The salaried position includes non-cash compensation for housing, utilities, food, household supplies, vehicle, insurance and other needs.  

To be eligible, applicants must be/become a Certified Foster Parent with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Other requirements include: 

  • Individuals and their family must move into and live full time in the completely furnished home located on the east side of Cullman.  
  • Must care for six foster children 24/7. 
  • Must have no more than two children of your own who will be living with you in the home.  

Chairman of the Pilot Light Home Board Peggy Harris explained, “Our part, as the Board, is with the home. We do pay the house parent, but they are basically under supervision, as far as what they do with the children, of the Department of Human Resources. We provide the facility and keep it up.”  

She went on to say that the house parents follow the same policies as any other foster parent when it comes to accepting placements by DHR. 

The Pilot Light Home has a long history of serving Cullman County children. A written history of the Pilot Light Home by the Pilot Light Home Board states: 

“The Pilot Light Home is a 24/7 foster home and emergency care facility licensed by the Department of Human Resources and governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. The home provides care for six foster children and one salaried house parent. These children are abused and/or neglected, abandoned or whose parents are incapacitated with no relatives to provide care. Care is provided for an average of 20-25 children yearly.  

“Prior to 1982, when law enforcement and DHR case workers would pick up abused, neglected children, sometimes in the middle of the night, many times there was no readily available family, and no emergency place for children to stay. There was no foster home in the City of Cullman. The only homes that had vacancies and willing to take emergency placement children were many times located in Bremen, Brushy Pond, so the DHR workers would have to drive there with the children in the middle of the night.  

“The DHR staff needed and wanted a home/shelter in the city where children would be taken in these emergency situations or when other homes were full. Decatur had a home, Operations Home, supported by the community and approved like a foster family home with house parents. Visits were made to the home to gather information used to establish such a home in Cullman.  

“Chartered in 1981, the newly formed Pilot Club became interested in helping establish a children’s home/shelter and spearheaded the drive, becoming the primary sponsor of the Pilot Light Home. Under the leadership of Lorene Scott, the Pilot Club was joined by several Civic Clubs, churches, industries, businesses and concerned citizens and a Cullman home/shelter became a reality. This home would be supported by DHR welfare payments, Pilot Club and Cullman community donations from Civic Clubs, churches, businesses, banks, individuals and later, The United Way.”  

The Pilot Light Home is located on the east side of the City of Cullman. Individuals, businesses, industries, churches and other organizations have worked together to make the home what it is today. From donating paint to landscaping and furniture–the fully furnished home features five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, extra-large double garage, cozy living area, dining room, kitchen, office, playroom and a spacious yard with a great swing set.  

According to the Pilot Light Home Board, the home is “funded by the State Department of Human Resources child welfare payments, United Way of Cullman County, the Pilot Club of Cullman, with a third of the budget (about $30,000) provided through donations from civic organizations, churches, businesses and individuals, as well as fund raising projects. These funds are used to maintain the home inside and out, provide monthly cost of operation–house parent salary, utilities, food, household supplies, clothing, medicine, insurance, gas–as well as the upkeep for the home and van.” 

“The ability to continue funding the Pilot Light Home is dependent on financial support from the Cullman Community. With competition from newer charities which help many, many people, it is more difficult to receive the donations needed to maintain the funds to support the Pilot Light Home. Donations are always put to good use and very much appreciated.”   

A full list of responsibilities, requirements and applications are available at the Alabama Department of Human Resources, United Way of Cullman County and Pilot Light, Inc. Board of Directors Chairman at gooderharris@gmail.com  

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com