Local Human Services officials announced today that Scott County is facing a critical shortage of foster care providers: “We have been increasingly concerned about the growing need for additional foster care providers, and at this point it has become an urgent need,” said Gretchen Young, Licensing Supervisor. “We have been able to assure that children's safety and well-being needs are met in foster care, but identifying foster homes in all communities across the County is a challenge.”
The goal is to place children and youth in their home communities to support their connections to family and minimize disruption to their education. “This really allows the child or youth to stay connected to a familiar area, remain in their school district, and can help encourage a sense of safety and security,” Young said.
In addition, whenever possible, Scott County Health and Human Services seeks to reunify families that have found themselves in need of foster care, and having local care providers makes that reconnection easier. The vast majority of children and youth served by the Scott County Foster Care Program are reunified with their families within a year or less.
While Scott County Human Services is actively looking for homes to serve children and youth who may be in placement for up to a year, they also need homes that will provide care for shorter placements - that is, from one week to a few months. There is also a significant need for foster homes which can provide weekend respite care; providing weekend respite care is a great way for families who work during the week to serve children and youth when it fits their schedule.
Qualified foster care providers must be 21 years old, pass a criminal background check, complete a home study, and complete required training. Foster parents are paid a stipend for care provided based on state guidelines, but - according to Young and her colleagues - “We’ve found that the greatest compensation for the providers is knowing that they have made a lasting, positive difference in the lives of others… and, in turn, the health of our larger community.”
For more information on foster care or becoming a foster care provider, go to www.co.scott.mn.us, email [email protected], or call 952-445-7751.