Foster parents needed across the Commonwealth and beyond

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Published: May. 13, 2022 at 4:48 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WYMT) - A common theme foster parent recruiters and adoption experts see is many homes want to foster very young children.

The recruiters said age usually does not mean it is more or less difficult to manage the process, but that children of all ages benefit greatly from love and care.

Kimberly Johnson has been fostering children for the past three years. But, early in her life, she lived with a foster family.

”My mom was a young mother and it helped her to, you know, get where she needed to be,” explained Johnson.

She returned to her biological mother and remembers the experience fondly. She said that is her inspiration to be a foster parent today.

”Most of the kids in and out, they’re really just, they’re looking for the support and the love and the help that they need and that’s the same with the biological families,” she said.

Some kids will stay in foster homes for a relatively short time.

Johnson and her fiancé recently took in a 17 year old named Sierra for just six month.

”We’ve had several children in and out of our home,” she said. “All different ages.”

They have had six children foster in their home, but many more on an even shorter term.

There is a program for interested families who cannot make the full-time foster parent commitment called Respite Care.

In this program, families may foster a child for as little as one day or a long weekend. Foster parent recruiters said families receive support every step of the way, no matter the level of commitment.

Those recruiters also said the need for foster parents is dire right now.

More than 8,000 children are in the foster system across the Commonwealth, with more than 1,500 in Eastern and Southern Kentucky.

”Typically we see a lot of teenage kids, said Stephanie Justice, a Foster Parent Recruiter with Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY). “So, the average age range of kids that we try to help are between the ages of ten and sixteen years old.”

Justice said it is critically important to a child’s well-being to find a loving and caring family, even if just for a short time.

”It is definitely important to help our teenage kids because it has been proven that a loving and caring adult in their lives will greatly reduce the risk of child abuse, which is a huge problem in our state as well.”

Amongst the younger-aged children Johnson has taken in are three siblings.

They stayed for two years, before it became permanent.

”We do have a 14 year old biological daughter, and she has really enjoyed it because she was an only child prior,” said Johnson. “So, it has been really great for her as well.”

Johnson said almost any family can become a great foster family.

”A good foster family is pretty much someone that is in it to help the kids,” she said.

Look for the “Foster Me - Developing Dreams for Flourishing Futures” campaign to raise awareness about the need for foster parents to open their homes to teens experiencing foster care.

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