County has a fifth of needed foster homes
Pursuant to best practices, Douglas County needs at least 25 foster homes to adequately serve the population. It currently has five.
Why is this important? Consider this scenario: It is 10 p.m. on a Sunday. Mom and child are in a vehicle driven by dad. Dad is intoxicated and subsequently arrested for driving under the influence and child endangerment. Mom is arrested for drugs found on her person. Neither parent is able to post bail. The police are keeping the child safe while they wait for Child Protective Services.
What happens to the child? In the absence of a suitable relative placement, the child is taken into the care of the Division of Child and Family Services for temporary placement in a foster home.
The ultimate goal is to reunify the child with her parents when it is safe to do so.
The Division of Child and Family Services offers services and assistance to mom and dad designed to address parenting and safety issues in order to safely reunify the Child with her parents, but this process takes time, time where the Child stays out of their home.
Put yourself in the Child’s shoes. You are 6 years old. Your mom and dad were arrested in front of you and escorted away in handcuffs. A social worker, a stranger to you, has taken you to a foster home and introduced for the first time to a person who is to serve as your temporary parent.
How well will you sleep that night in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar home occupied by unfamiliar people? Now, add to the equation that Douglas County does not have a foster home available for you. This means that you will be taken to another county for placement, farther away from your community, from places you recognize, parks you play at, and people you know. Will you be able to attend your school the next morning? What about your friends? Your belongings? Your pets? Your everything?
Douglas County is blessed to have Austin’s House and 5 other foster homes. Yet, in 2017 there were 39 children in foster care in Douglas County and 21 of those children were placed in foster homes outside of Douglas County at some point during the year. Let’s solve this problem in 2018.
If you want to learn more, you can attend the upcoming event nights that will be held on both 5:30 p.m. today and May 2 at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center in the Carson Valley Medical Center Room.
These events are where you can come and learn about fostering children from myself, Division of Child and Family Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the District Attorney’s office and a foster parent.
If you are unable to attend these events but are interested in temporarily opening your home to a child in our community, contact Division of Child and Family Services Foster Care Recruiter Lori Nichols at (775) 684-1967 or visit dcfs.nv.gov for more information.
Thomas Gregory is a Douglas County District Court Judge