Kentucky facing Foster Care crisis, children sleeping in government offices

The loss of many qualified foster families during the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:43 PM EST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Kentucky is facing a foster care crisis and the holiday season is highlighting the urgency of the situation.

“At the rate we are going, there will be children sleeping at DCBS offices for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. I mean, that is the reality that we’re in, and that is just unacceptable. That is unacceptable of how we take care of our children here in Kentucky,” said Sherry Roy-Hunton, Therapeutic Foster Care Program Director for Lifeskills Inc.

Kentucky is currently grappling with a foster care crisis, marked by a shortage of families willing or able to temporarily take in children within the foster care system. The loss of many qualified foster families during the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem, leaving a significant void in available foster homes.

“After COVID, we lost a lot of foster families. A lot of foster families are adopted, which is what happened here at Lifeskills, which is the best way to lose a foster family,” said Roy-Hunton, “but then we are tasked with not having enough foster homes.”

Children in foster care, both locally and across the state, now face the heartbreaking reality of sleeping in hallways at social service facilities, churches, government offices, and even state parks instead of warm, loving homes.

“We are currently in a situation where children are literally sleeping at DCBS offices on cots. Social service offices, office buildings like this, we don’t have showers or facilities where people are really supposed to be staying there. Think about the holidays coming up, we’re beyond making sure kids have enough toys and gifts for Christmas. We want kids to have a bed, somewhere to sleep, somewhere to be. To actually have to sleep in someone’s office on a cot is absolutely unfair to any child,” she said.

Addressing this crisis and providing these children with the types of homes they need, requires action from the community at large.

“Do you know anyone in your community that would be willing to open their heart and home and be willing to become a foster parent? More than anything in the world, we need people who are willing to do that. We know that the families are out there, and we know that there are people who would do fantastic at this, and we’re not looking for perfect families. We’re looking for real-life families. We don’t expect anyone to be perfect. We need people to step up and become foster parents,” she said.

For those concerned about the added expense of fostering a child, Roy-Hunton reassured that the state is committed to compensating foster parents for the extra costs.

“Don’t let that be a barrier stopping you from thinking that I don’t have extra money to have an extra child in my home. We do provide a stipend for that and reimbursement for some of the things that children need: clothing, personal allowances, and things of that nature. We’ve got it all worked out,” she emphasized.

For those who are interested in becoming foster parents, Lifeskills, Inc. provides training for foster parents/families.