MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — No two families are the same, and here in North Dakota, families go beyond blood.

One Burmese Proverb says that ‘In times of test, family is best,’ and nothing rings more true, especially when it comes to our foster families.

So many people open their homes to children in need, providing shelter and support for so many, but these foster families need help too.

CASO stands for Come Along Side Others, and it provides support for foster families, biological families, and case workers.

“Two years ago, CASO began out of a desire of my heart,” explained Jolene Haffner. “My husband and I were foster families for eleven years, and then stepped away from that. But I still just couldn’t disconnect from wanting to help foster families and foster kids. And so we started this ministry where we just come alongside foster families and support them so that hopefully they don’t burn out.”

The organization does different things like providing meals, doing yard work, and more for both biological and foster families.

“Our goal is wherever the child is at that moment, we want to support that environment,” Haffner continued. “So if they are with their bio parents and CPS gets involved, maybe there’s a concern — so we want to support that family before the child is removed. Maybe they need a bed, maybe they need some food in their pantry, or maybe they just need a ride to therapy.”

Angela Miller has been fostering for around 14 years, and she knows firsthand how challenging, and rewarding, being a foster parent can be.

“We face the problem of foster parent burnout a lot,” Miller explained, “just because they’re not getting supported by the social workers. The social workers are just so bogged down with their jobs, and an increased amount of kids coming into care.”

Jenna Hurt has been a foster parent for nearly five years, and she says CASO is an organization that really helps out in her times of need.

“It’s been a tremendous help for me being a single parent,” stated Hurt. “I had surgery in October, and they came out and helped me do fall cleanup for my yard. They’ve helped me do repairs around my house and plenty of other things that just get put to the back burner as a single mom.”

Both Miller and Hurt say it’s important for those experiencing stress while fostering to reach out for support, even though asking for help can be intimidating.

“I am one of those people that it is hard for me to accept help,” stated Miller, “but I have learned that it is so necessary and so needed, so don’t hesitate. These people are volunteering, standing by, and waiting to be a blessing in our lives.”

For those interested in learning more about support for foster families, CASO will be hosting a free informational event on Saturday, February 25, where there will be a foster parent panel and foster care agencies available to help.