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More children in foster care means more families needed in Kent County

Nenad Stojkovic/Fickr
CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

A West Michigan child welfare organization says Kent County is in desperate need of foster families

May is Foster Care Month and even as advocates work to build awareness, experts at DA Blodgett Saint John’s Home say the need is serious right now with 160 children entering foster care in Kent County last year, joining 690 already in the system.

“What we need right now are foster parents for kids over the age of 8 - primarily teens - and also sibling groups.”

Director of Child Welfare Services Kellie Oom says physical and developmental needs or behavioral issues due to trauma are concerns along with keeping siblings together.

Finding the right fit means assessing a lot of factors.

“Does this foster family look like them? Do they share the same culture? These aren’t cookie cutter kids so we can’t have cookie cutter foster families.”

Oom wants to debunk myths that prevent people from fostering: you don’t have to own a home, be married or already a parent, and same sex couples or LGBTQ people are welcome to apply.

She stresses fostering is temporary, but while professionals work to address safety issues and reunify families, they don’t want to split up siblings entering foster care together.

“We need, need, desperately need, people willing to partner with us to provide the care for these kids in our community so we can give them what they need: a safe placement while we figure this out for them and get them back with their families.”

You can find out more about foster parenting on the DA Blodgett Saint John’s website.

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