DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – The foster care program in Iowa is urgently seeking families willing to open their homes to kids whose parents are unable to care for them.
Last year, 2,560 children in Iowa were referred to foster care.
“Unfortunately, we only have about 2,100 foster homes across our state right now,” says Bambi Schrader, recruitment supervisor for Iowa KidsNet. “We’re in desperate need.”
The unprecedented foster home demand across the state has been sparked by economic issues and the retirement of families who have been relied upon in recent years.
The lack of foster families means “children are waiting longer in shelters or residential treatments or unsafe situations,” Schrader says.
Not to be confused with adoption, which involves permanent custody of a child, foster care is temporary.
“Reunification with a birth family member is the primary goal for every child in foster care,” Schrader says, “but the end result after reunification efforts have not been successful is adoption.”
Children who will never be reunified with a parent may still wait years to be adopted and needs foster care in the meantime.
Iowa KidsNet, which works in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Human Services, is sending out an urgent call for a wide range of caregivers.
“We need everything from two-parent households to single-parent households, same-sex couples,” Schrader says. “We need some older couples that maybe aren’t looking to adopt but would take an infant that we want to reunify (with the infant’s parents).”
There is currently a particular need for Iowans willing to care for sibling groups, teenagers, and children older than 8 years old.
Schrader says children do not need foster families to be wealthy but do “need people who care about them [and] need people who love them.”
“We want to make sure each child has their own unique home that meets their needs,” Schrader says.
“It is more critical now than ever with the amount of foster homes for the amount of children that need homes.”
You can learn more at the Iowa KidsNet website or by calling (800) 243-0756.
You must be an Iowa resident to participate in this call for foster families, but there is a need in Illinois and other states.