TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Choose to be the difference. That's the message from the Indiana Department of Child Services as staff look for more people willing to be foster parents.
Nine hundred children in the region are in the DCS system according to local officials and drug abuse is a leading cause.
It is just one of many sad facts discussed at the Greater Terre Haute NAACP Branch meeting Monday night. The event was aimed at highlighting the bigger issue of how to create an environment for all children to be successful."
Greater Terre Haute NAACP President Sylvester Edwards says, "We want to make sure they're not throw-away children. And, what's happening right now as far as children, we're talking about economic stability, sustainability, and because of that we want to make sure that they have the same chances and rights as other children."
Department of Child Services officials say they try to place children with family first but that does not always work. With more foster homes needed locally, the already difficult move can be made that much harder.
DCS Region 8 Manager Susan Lesko says, "Sometimes we have to place two or three hours away which makes it difficult for the families to visit, to reunify, to work with them to remedy the situations that caused the removal so they can go back home."
Lesko says roughly half of the children in the system are placed with relatives but that still leaves the other half in need of foster homes. She hopes more people will come forward, willing to go through the training and help kids for various lengths of time.
"Some people don't want to foster long-term children but they might be out there that are willing to do seven days and then we move the children. That's part of their contract."
Children can stay in a home for just a few days while others may stay for a year or more.
Foster homes are needed for children of all ages but Lesko says the agency has a more difficult time placing teens and sibling groups.
According to the Indiana Department of Child Services good foster parents can provide a strong support system and do not take potentially bad behaviors personally. They are responsible for providing basic needs like food, clothing and transportation but foster parents are reimbursed for care in the form of per diem.
A person must pass background checks, complete ten hours of training and be certified in CPR and first aid to become a foster parent. However, if you are a relative, Lesko says you do not have to be certified but it is encouraged.
To speak with an available Foster Care Specialist call: (812)234-0100
Foster Care Helpline: (888)631-9510
Learn more: fostercare.in.gov
To report child abuse and neglect call the HOTLINE: 1-800-800-5556
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