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How can you help with the foster care crisis?

The need for foster care throughout the state and nation has become a true crisis. In 2021, the Taylor County Foster Care system had 20 children or youth in foster care for part or all of the year. Already this year 27 children or youth are in placement. Taylor County currently has seven licensed foster homes throughout the entire county, however due to different circumstances we are currently limited to 1 or 2 homes that are able to accept placement of a child at any given time.

Foster care is home-like care provided for children who are unable to live with their birth families or respective caregivers because of safety concerns, special care or treatment needs, or other circumstances. A child in foster care is a child who needs a temporary home to be safe and cared for. Generally, placement in foster care is temporary and intended to give the child’s family time to make necessary changes so that the child can return to live safely in the home. Most children in foster care return home to their families. When children cannot return home, they find permanence primarily through guardianship, adoption, or other means. A foster home license is valid for two years and foster homes can help up to four children who need placement. Taylor County Human Services Department license foster families and oversee the children who are placed in foster homes.

Taylor County is also seeking homes to provide respite, as this is another need, they have. Respite care provides parents and other caregivers with short-term child care services that offer temporary relief, improve family stability, and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. Respite can be planned or offered during emergencies or times of crisis.

One of the greatest obstacles that people face when considering whether to foster is fear,” Foster Care Coordinator Tammy Schreiber said. During the application process, background checks are completed as well as home visits and interviews with all family members. “The ideal family for a foster child is someone who can appreciate the ups and downs of life, who can let things roll off their backs, have a great sense of humor, and may have had some struggles in their own personal lives and have overcome them. You also want the child to feel like a member of the family,” Schreiber said.

The biggest struggle with any foster care system is finding availability for placement. There are too many children in need and not enough homes for all of them. Keeping siblings together is a priority but sometimes space or a lack of available homes makes it hard to keep them together.

Schreiber added “We get calls at least twice a week from other counties asking if Taylor County has room to take children, and it’s sad because we have to turn them down due to the lack of licensed foster parents.”

Anyone wishing to become a foster parent should contact their county Human Services or Social Services Department to request information on becoming a foster parent. In Taylor County contact Tammy Schreiber at 715-748-3332 or email her at [email protected] Everyone needs a family and a place to belong. Fostering may just be the way to that child’s heart and home.