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Foster care in dire need of county support

By BY BLAKE BELL, STAFF WRITER
A strange house, full of unfamiliar faces. A new town and school. Trying to make a new set of friends. And then, it starts all over. This may sound like a bad dream, but it is what thousands of children all over the country deal with everyday as they are constantly shuffled from one foster home to another. Why is this such a large problem? Why are these unfortunate children moved from place to place? A large reason for this wide spread mass transport of foster children is because the number of kids who need foster homes (approximately 558,000 in the US. and 5,000 in Alabama) largely outnumbers the amount of foster families and homes available.
In Alabama alone, there are approximately 5,000 foster children. Of these children in foster care, 2,373 of them are in foster family boarding homes,1,107 are in therapeutic foster homes, 187 are in related foster family homes, and 6 are in foster family tree homes. The remainder of the children are in settings such as group homes, child care institutions, DYS facilities, MH/MR operated/licensed facilities, and psychiatric hospitals. In Escambia County, 32 children are being cared for in some type of foster facility. 10 of these children are in related homes, 8 are in regular foster homes, 6 are in therapeutic foster care, 7 are in group homes or residential facilities, and one child is in her own home.
Currently 18 approved foster homes are present in Escambia County. There are also 3 therapeutic foster facilities, which are foster homes that are licensed by separate agencies. Despite these homes, however, foster families and homes, of every kind, are still in great need in Escambia County, and all over Alabama. The Escambia County Department of Human Resources contract with family finders to train prospective parents and are always searching for new homes and facilities to help even out the child to home ratio.
For information on how to become involved in a local foster care facility or on how to become a foster parent, contact Foster Care Resource Supervisor Tracie James at 251-809-2000.