Nothing beats the heat of a hot summer day like a swimming party. 

The OKDHS and Elks Lodge hosted a swimming party for foster parents and children Tuesday afternoon at the Elks Lodge swimming pool. The event served as an “appreciation day” for foster parents and allowed them a chance to take their kids and foster kids for a fun day of swimming and food. 

“They provide an amazing service to take in children that are in OKDHS custody,” said foster care supervisor for Love and Carter counties Amanda Dimiceli. “So we were able to get the Elks Lodge kind of involved to provide the swimming pool and the food so we can offer just a little bit of a appreciation for families to have a day of fun.” 

Dimiceli said the organization tries to have “retention” or appreciation days at least once a year, with the events typically taking place during Christmas. She said since the foster care unit was unable to have an event at Christmas this year they decided to host a swimming party during the summer. 

Dimiceli said the Elks Lodge donated the facilities and the food for the event and a certified life guard also donated time for the event. Elks Lodge leading knight Robert Chaney said the group provides several opportunities for youth throughout the year. 

“It’s all donated and we also cook them some hot dogs and got potato chips and drinks and we try to make a good afternoon for these kids,” he said. “Sometimes these kids don’t get to enjoy these kind of things so it’s important to us.”

Dimiceli said fun days like the swimming party allow foster families a chance to get away from the stresses of life and to enjoy a day together for fun activities. 

“It’s really nice to see them get to relax because it is just busy, busy when they have their own children and then they take in foster children,” Dimiceli said. “Today’s a day where they can just relax and be a family.”

Dimiceli said there are approximately 11,000 children in custody in Oklahoma, with an estimated 190-240 of those children residing in Love and Carter counties. Dimiceli said the state is in constant need of foster parents due to the number of children in need of aid. 

“We’re desperately in need for more foster parents and we really try to spread the word that foster parents are needed,” she said. “We try to retain our foster parents that we have by doing events like this just to show we appreciate what they do.”