Imagine being a little kid waiting in an office chair listening as call after call asking if a family can take you in is rejected. That's too often the case in the Rockford area. It's because there is such a big number of foster children just in Winnebago County alone in need of a home.
"The need is to the point of being desperate right now," says Donna Kasper, Children's Home and Aid, director of family centered services.
Children's Home and Aid Society helps place foster children into homes for the Department of Family and Children Services (DCFS). The problem the group has found potential foster parents put of lot of limits of the type of kids they are willing to accept. Some only want newborn babies others only want one child, but the reality is there are too many older children often with siblings who need help.
"Some of our foster parents won't even let them spend one night," says Kasper.
She says those kids end up never knowing what's it's like to be in a loving home.
"A lot of them end up in residential facilities, some of them end up in jail and it's very difficult, some of them end up on the run, on the streets," says Kasper.
Outside of Chicago's Cook County, Winnebago County has the largest number of children being placed in foster care. The latest DCFS numbers show 882 kids are in the system there. In Boone County there are 85 and in Ogle County there are 60. Robert Atchison, a supervisor at Children's Home and Aid Society says three big problems in this area keep popping up as the reason kids are pulled from their
"The issues that are coming in are kind of the major three are substance use, mental illness and domestic violence," says Atchison.
Kasper says the problems the kids might have faced often scares people away from foster care but the organization offers training to help parents through the transition. She says most importantly you just have to be willing to love a child in need as your own.
"We're looking for that miracle to walk through the door and be there for that child," says Kasper.
Children's Home and Aid says 50-percent of their placements often end in adoption. If you want to become a foster parent you can attend on of the group's informational meeting. They happen every third Thursday of the month. They are located at the Freeman School Building at 910 2nd Ave., Rockford, IL 61104. You can also call 815-962-1043. The next meeting is November 21 from 3:30 - 5 p.m.
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