Foster care advocates anticipate rise in number of children needing care
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Child advocates are bracing themselves for an overloaded foster care system, come fall.
In 2019, the Kansas Department for Children and Families placed 7,484 children outside of their home; 1,652 of them were from the Wichita area.
Foster care workers tell Eyewitness News, children are without a crucial safety net right now since they have been out of school since March.
“Our teachers are some of the best advocates that we have, because they see these kids every day and they know that they’re struggling at home,” said Libby Hayden, a foster family recruiter for TFI Family Services.
Hayden and foster care worker, Natalie Glanville, anticipate a surge in foster children once school is back in session.
“We’re always having kids come into care throughout the year. We mostly see it around September and October, which is when kids go back to school, so it is a little bit concerning that kids aren’t in school because sometimes that’s where they have most of their needs met,” said Glanville.
Natasha, who asked us to withhold her last name for safety reasons, is a longtime foster and adoptive mom.
“I remember the first night that we got our little foster baby. I just sat there and I held him and I cried because I knew somewhere, there was a mom that didn’t have her baby,” said Natasha.
She said she has fostered dozens of children who suffered neglect or child abuse – or have parents with addiction problems. She worries about what the pandemic has done to families that are already struggling.
“Just with the system already being overwhelmed, especially with addictions, we don’t have enough centers to provide a treatment for these families that need addiction services. That’s going to be even more difficult for them to access right now,” said Natasha.
All three women are preparing for a rise in the number of children coming into care, and they’re pleading for people to step up and become foster parents.
“Not everybody’s built for it, but if you have a heart for kids and you want them to have a safe place to come home to and help them heal, then foster parenting is a great way to do that,” said Hayden.
The first step is to take classes to prepare you.
“You really have nothing to lose but you have a whole bunch to gain and a whole bunch to give,” said Glanville.
If the idea of fostering is completely overwhelming, TFI Family Services said there are a lot of ways you can help instead.
If you want to learn more about becoming a foster parent, or helping in other ways, contact TFI Family services at 833-7Foster or 833-736-7837.
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