Foster care needed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shelby County has the lowest number of children living in poverty in the state, according to the Kids County Data book, released every year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

But what those numbers don&8217;t reflect is the urgent need for local foster care families, county officials stress.

Camilia Holmes, resource supervisor for Shelby County Department of Human Resources, said the number of kids in foster care has tripled over the past 15 years.

Currently, there are only 40 foster families in Shelby County, but more than 180 kids in need of a home.

&8220;We can&8217;t say, no. We have to remove children if safety is an issue and then we have to work on getting a placement later,&8221; Holmes said. &8220;If a child came into care now, depending on the situation, I may not have a place for the child. That&8217;s what we face every day.&8221;

If a child were to come in and no placement were found, the supervisors would literally have to sleep in the building because they cannot take the kids home themselves.

Holmes dreams of a day when she could have a pool of people who are prepared to take children when a home is needed.

She said she wants people to know that anyone with a heart for children can be a good foster parent.

&8220;The kids in care are just like other children and they are just looking for those people out there that can make a commitment to them,&8221; Holmes said.

An individual who is interested can be single or married for at least a year, be financially able to meet their own needs and prepared to help reunite the children with their parents, if that becomes a possibility.

A Group Preparation and Selection process is offered twice a year for foster parents to attend.

The 10-week program helps the individual or couple assess whether or not their family is prepared to deal with a child, who might be coming from a difficult situation.