Joanne and Eckart Schneider have been fostering children since 1985. The first medical foster parents in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the Schneiders relocated to Brevard County Florida in 1991 where they took medically complex children under their wing. Over the last 36 years, the Schneiders have fostered 51 children with medical conditions ranging from substance-exposed newborns to a boy they later adopted who was born with half a heart. All this while raising their 5 children, and now enjoying 9 grandchildren.
As medical foster parents, the Schneiders often spend a lot of time training parents on how to care for their children. They maintain relationships with these families over many years. When asked why they foster medically complex children, Mrs. Schneider replied, “Many of our fosters have a bleak prognosis when they come to us and we love helping them reach and exceed their expectations. We can’t change the world, but we can help one child at a time.”
Mrs. Schneider recalled their first Medical Foster Care placement was a premature baby born at just 26 weeks in 1987, a time when children that fragile rarely survived. A Registered Nurse, Mrs. Schneider brought Jeannette home after caring for her for nine months in the hospital. Jeannette remained with the Schneiders until she was adopted by a single mom at the age of two years. They maintained contact with Jeannette and her family over the years and in 2015 Jeannette asked Mr. Schneider to walk her down the aisle at her wedding.
36 years is a long time to foster, but every time they intend to retire, there always seems to be “just one more.” Their passion for bettering the lives of medically fragile children has certainly made a real difference in the lives of the children, their families, and the entire community.