LYONS, Ind. (WTHI) – Billboards and yard signs are popping up all across the Wabash Valley asking for foster parents to come forward.
The Indiana Youth Institute reported 30,000 children were in foster care in 2017. Children may enter into foster care for a number of reasons. Child abuse and neglect are often the most common. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ranked Indiana as the second-highest state for child abuse victims.
Open Arms Christian Ministries in Greene County said they're experiencing a slight uptick in children in foster care in recent years. The agency turns 10 to 15 kids away each day due to a lack of foster families.
“The numbers are pretty consistent,” Jerry Mathis, Foster Care Coordinator with Open Arms, said.
Mathis said there are a variety of short-term care opportunities for foster families to help. Respite care is one way to assist other foster parents by providing care for children who are currently placed in foster homes. Emergency care can also help prevent a child from sleeping in the DCS office, according to Mathis.
One local family has cared for more than twenty foster children, primarily through respite care.
Shelby English has three children of her own, but she said she has found room to love even more.
“We thought we would change lives through foster care, but these kids have changed our lives,” English said. "Even the kids that only stayed one night, I still think about everyday."
She said that adding more children to their family brought a level of calmness.
“Our home feels so much more whole when we have kids there,” English said.
To become a foster parent, you must complete state licensing and training requirements, and a home study. More information about Open Arms Christian Ministries is available here.