The number of children entering foster care in the state of Indiana is at an all-time high, and agencies across the state are scrambling to find more foster parents.
The Villages of Indiana, the state’s largest not-for-profit child and family services agency, will host several sessions over the coming months to meet interested couples and individuals who would like to learn more about foster parenting.
“They are really informal times for families who are considering foster care, or for people who are interested in learning what that even means or would entail,” said Deborah Brewer, The Villages’ regional and early childhood program director. “We cover a lot of really basic questions to more specific questions, like the amount of training involved, space and time requirements.”
While the sessions are informal in nature, they are critical in need.
The Villages, which has a contract with the Indiana Department of Child Services to facilitate the foster process, currently has around 235 licensed homes statewide — 40 in the organization’s southern region of the state, which covers 23 counties. About 19 of those homes are in the Bloomington area, Brewer said. There currently are 279 kids placed in homes across the state, with 45 of those placed in the Villages’ southern region. Twenty children are placed in homes in and around Monroe County.
It’s not nearly enough.
“This is what breaks my heart. This month alone I’ve had, for the southern Indiana region, 72 calls from DCS. That’s for about 150 to 200 kids. I’ve been able to place three this month,” Brewer said. “Right now, I have to say ‘No’ a lot.”
DCS’s resource family support supervisor Jamie Lawrence-Nickels said that placing a child is always challenging.