Growing Need for Child Foster Homes
500 Children Living In Out-Of-Home Placement
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Many factors can lead authorities to remove children from their homes such as drugs, alcohol and mental illnesses.
The need for more foster homes in St. Louis County is growing at an alarming rate and the county is working to recruit more foster families.
Nearly 500 children are living in out-of-home placement.
“That’s a number that is up about 25% from 5 years ago,” said Child Foster Care Professional Development Coordinator, Jessie Schunk.
Social workers are asking for the communities help now more than ever to get involved and support the children.
“We need all kinds of homes that are willing to make all kinds of situations work,” said Schunk.
The county is facing challenges because of it’s geographic size and diverse population.
More diversity among families is being sought out to meet current needs.
“Diverse in terms of culture, in terms of behavioral needs and other kinds of educational needs,” said Director of St. Louis County Children and Family Services, Holly Church.
They are looking for a wide variety of parents to provide a stable and caring environment until the child can be safely reunited with his or her family.
But, there are not enough foster families available.
“We need to replace more people as well as build more options for kids,” Schunk said.
Because, the experienced foster families are dwindling.
“Some of the backbone of our program is aging out.”
At this point, social workers say their best recruitment option is through word of mouth from existing foster families or people who know foster families.
Foster placements may be as short as a few days or as long as several months.
In most cases, foster families will have contact with the child’s family.
Being a foster parent is not for everyone.
“We look to foster parents to provide that nurture to provide some stability and to help them stay connected with their community,” said Church.
But, they can make a huge difference.
“Actually seeing them from when they first entered our home and how they’ve progressed through the years has been incredibly rewarding,” said foster parents, Steve and Teresa.
They say it’s been nothing but a blessing to their family.
“Yes you are going to have hard time as well as good times. But, you deal with it. You work through it and in the end it’s definitely all worth it,” said the couple.
For more information about child foster care, click here.
New videos are also available featuring foster parents and county employees who support and train foster families.
The videos highlight the challenges and rewards of caring for foster children.
The videos are available here.