State working on solutions for foster care shortage

Medford, Ore. — Negotiations have broken down in a case to prevent Oregon foster children from staying the night in hotels and offices.

Now local social service agencies are doing what they can to relieve the foster parent shortage in our area.

Back in November, the state agreed to stop temporarily housing foster kids in hotels and offices.

While NBC5 News doesn’t know why those talks have broken down, there may be some solutions in the works.

“Our workers have really tried hard. They have a real commitment to keep kids with folks they know,” Child Welfare certification supervisor Jan Hall said.

Certification supervisor Jan Hall with Child Welfare says it’s proven children in crisis do best when paired with relatives or family friends.

However, when that isn’t an option, the children are sent into community foster care.

But with a shortage of foster parents, the only other option right now is to temporarily house kids in hotels.

“Today we’ve had two kids come in. We put the call out to have our workers stay with them in a hotel. We do believe we’re gonna be able to find a home for those kids today. But now we have three others that we’re not sure and so we’re thinking those kids are probably going to have to go into a hotel,” Hall said.

Hall says Child Welfare has had an increase in people interested in becoming foster parents but many aren’t following through.

“To do the training, it’s 30 hours that somebody has to commit to learning about this sort of thing. And I think people’s lives are very, very busy. I think they have a heart for kids, they really care about kids, but they also have their own kids and their owns lives as well and sometimes life just gets in the way,” Hall said.

One program Hall is hoping will encourage more people to become foster parents is called “Every Child”.

It provides practical relief and support for families who take in foster children from delivering meals to mowing lawns.

“If you need to vent or you’re struggling they’re there for you as well,” Hall said.

In addition to finding more foster parents, there are other potential solutions the state is working on including a temporary housing shelter near Portland that would hold up to 12 children.

The department of human resources is also looking at working with agencies locally like Redemption Ridge or the Salvation Army to add beds for kids.

But in the meantime, Hall wants to make it clear that all you really need to be a foster parent is a heart full of love.

“It’s great if you’ve got lots of education – that’s wonderful. But you don’t have to have that. And you don’t have to have a perfect life either. You have to have a big heart and that’s what we’re looking for,” Hall said.

Foster Parent Resource: Medford Child Welfare Office – call (541) 776-6120
Every Child Resource:  Jackson County Director Lynette Hasse – email [email protected] or call (541) 621-7283
Volunteer Resource: Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Machen – call (541) 776-6120

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