Douglas foster children leaving county
IF YOU GO
What: Foster Parent Information Event
Where: Douglas County Community & Senior Center, Gardnerville
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Douglas County children are being shipped off, out of their homes, their communities, and their schools, all because there are too few foster homes available in the county.
While there are only five foster homes in Douglas County, only two are available. In those, one only accepts babies, and the other only has one bed available. Two are at capacity and the third is only for temporary — known as respite — housing.
In an effort to encourage more people to be foster parents, there is an information night Wednesday at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center hosted by the Division of Child and Family Services in the Carson Valley Medical Center room.
The goal is to educate the community, as well as clarify people’s conceptions about foster care.
There will be a panel of experts including division staff, CASA, a representative from the District Attorney’s office, a Douglas County district judge, and a foster parent.
“The event is for people who may have questions about foster care, or are considering it, but are too scared to take the plunge,” said Molly Blanchette, social services manager of the division. “There’s no commitment, you won’t be asked or expected to sign anything.”
The division is in dire need of residents to step up and open their homes to Douglas County children, who have lived in the county their entire lives, who have made connections within their communities.
“We have a significant need in Douglas County,” said Lori Nichols of Foster Care Recruitment. “In 2017, 39 children were taken into custody by the system; 21 of those had to be placed out of the county. It’s a community issue, the community needs to serve their children in need of safety, and to take ownership of their children.”
The county has a population of about 50,000 people.
“It’s important to keep Douglas County children in the community. It’s the heritage of Douglas, its the culture. I was raised in Douglas County. It’s important for them to have safe and loving foster homes within their own communities if they are taken into custody.”
The children also have to move schools when they are placed outside of the county, which have severe negative impacts on their academic performance, as well as their social relationships.
“It’s not just the trauma of starting everything new, but maybe they’ve been working on a school project, or they knew what they were going to bring to show and tell in two weeks,” said Nichols. “The connections they’ve built at their school are severed.”
Something the division hears often from people is that they don’t think they would be able to take a child into their home, fall in love with them, and then have to give them away again.
“I hear it all the time: ‘I don’t know how you can do your job. I have total ability to foster children but my heart wouldn’t be able to take it,” said Blanchette. “Any foster parent that does this will tell you, they’ve shed a lot of tears after their foster children were reunified. We wouldn’t want foster parents that didn’t cry. It’s a price that’s paid for loving these kids unconditionally.”
She points out that when the children are taken from the foster program, people should be reminded it’s because they are going into a safe and good environment, whether that’s back to their parents or into an adoptive, permanent home.
“I’d say to people that are scared of diving in, be brave,” said Blanchette. “People sell themselves short of what they can do. People don’t know what they’re capable of until they become of service to these children. It’s such important work to help the most vulnerable demographic, which are little kids who can’t help themselves. Come here what we have to say.”
The event will be held at The Douglas County Community & Senior Center in the Carson Valley Medical Center Room 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 2.
Those who are unable to attend this event will have another chance 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 12 at the Douglas County Community Center.