Foster families needed | NevadaAppeal.com

Foster families needed

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Last year Nevada child welfare agencies handled cases involving 5,000 children, from placing them in one of the 1,100 foster homes in the state to tending to their needs while in the juvenile justice system.

Rural counties, including Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties, made up approximately 450 of the cases. And with only 100 foster families available to those 15 counties, the need for people willing to foster children is “beyond critical,” said Chrystal Main, Division of Child and Family Services systems advocate.

“Children really, really deserve families, and we have a critical need for foster families. Our community is so generous; they just don’t understand this need right now. But I’m sure they will react with the same generosity they’ve been displaying following this horrific event,” she said.

Main’s plea comes a week after the state assumed custody of five Carson City children, two of whom were allegedly held captive and starved in a bathroom for years. While the two victims, 16 and 11 years old, are in the hospital recovering from severe malnutrition, their three healthy siblings, ages 9 to 17, have been placed in temporary foster homes while the criminal case against their mother, grandmother and stepfather is adjudicated.

Currently in rural Nevada, 13 children are being cared for by relatives, 157 children are in family foster care, two children are in foster homes that can provide care for special needs, and four other are in emergency care.

Marla Morris, social work supervisor for the division, said when a child is removed from a home, social workers begin the task of finding somewhere quickly to place the child. The goal is to keep children in the same community and same school, but with so few homes to choose from and an emergency shelter in Carson City that’s always at its limit of 12 children, often that isn’t accomplished.

“Having to use the emergency shelter is difficult. If we take a child from Douglas County and put them into a shelter in Carson City, we’ve moved them from school number one. Then we find them a foster home in Dayton and we have to move them yet again from school, family and support,” Main said.

The types of homes needed can vary, from full time to temporary, and the children’s needs cover a spectrum from special-needs children with medical conditions to children with emotional issues. The experience of fostering children, Main said, is rewarding.

Morris said the criteria are basic.

“They must be at least 21 years old, married or single, they must complete a required training program, submit to a law-enforcement check and be willing to embrace a challenge,” she said.

— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

You can help

WHAT: Interested in becoming a foster family?

Call: Toll free 1-888-423-2659

e-mail: contact.fosteradoption@dcfs.state.nv.us.

Information: The Division of Child and Family Services will send a packet out explaining program or answer any questions you might have.