That’s the number of kids who are currently in care of DCS in the Wabash Valley. 427 kids in Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo counties are in foster care.
You could look at that stat and say, “That’s not that bad for five counties. Less than 500 kids for the whole area. That’s not terrible, right?”
But let me give you another number.
That’s the number of licensed foster parents in the same region.
If you do the math, that means there’s an average of 3.5 kids in each Wabash Valley foster home. And that math isn’t a completely accurate representation because 20-25% of those homes are licensed relative placements (such as grandparents fostering grandbabies or aunts/uncles fostering their siblings’ kids but not other foster kids), AND there are licensed foster families (like my own family) that don’t currently have ANY foster kids!
With this ratio in mind, you can see why a lot of local foster parents have four, five, and sometimes six foster kids in their homes.
While we’re talking about big foster families, when you see these families out and about in our community please (I beg you) don’t assume they’re “doing it for the money.” I know that people jump to this conclusion when they see a car full of kids, and I feel the need to defend my fellow foster parents. DCS asks these foster parents to take more and more kids because almost all of the local homes are full. The foster families you see with a gaggle of kids are (in my experience) the good guys. They’re the ones who are willing to make room, sacrifice more, and love again.
Foster parents have more kids than they expect or ask for because DCS has to find a home for them. What other option do they have? What would you have them do?
While it’s true that there are a few group homes in Indiana (Open Arms Home in Swiss City is one such place), most people agree that a family is the best place for a child in crisis.
These kids need a bed to sleep in, a meal they can count on, and the stability of a family unit. And a safe home with a stable family of any size is better than sleeping on the floor of the DCS office or with an unhealthy relative.
But Rachael (you might ask), if your family is licensed, why aren’t there any foster kids in your home?
We have had one official foster placement, and it was a mostly positive experience. The child was a sweetheart, our girls loved him, and we’ve been in touch with his family since he reunited last summer. There was so much beauty in our story. But with two young bio daughters (ages 3 and 5) and a very busy family schedule, we realized we’re limited in how we can say yes.
Right now, we’re regularly doing respite care. That means we provide overnight childcare for other foster families when they travel, need a break, or attend a kid-free event. We have fallen head-over-heels in love with the babies we regularly watch, and our bio girls beg to have them over more often. For now, respite care is our foster family sweet spot. With that said, we are certainly open to fostering again. It just has to be the right scenario for our family. We’re very good at saying no, but we’re all in when we do say yes.
If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a foster parent in the Wabash Valley or how you might support foster kids without being a foster parent, check out this post.
Last but not least, I get asked quite often how to become a foster parent in Indiana. We’re licensed through the Department of Child Services, so I’m familiar with that specific process. (It’s different if you go through a private agency.) Our caseworker put together an outline of the steps to becoming a resource parent for me to share with you.
How to Become a Foster Parent in Indiana
WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
- Please call 812-234-0100 and ask to speak with a Foster Care Specialist.
- Attend RAPT classes (Resource and Adoptive Parent Training). The first class (RAPT 1) is typically offered on the 1st Monday of each month from 5-8pm. You will be given a packet that evening that includes the application for becoming a licensed foster parent.
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Pass a criminal history and background check that includes a fingerprint-based national history
- Demonstrate financial stability
- Own or rent your own home that meets physical safety standards (e.g., fire extinguishers, adequate bedroom space, reliable transportation)
- Medical statements from a physician for all household members
- Successfully complete the pre-service training requirements
- Successfully complete First Aid, CPR, and Universal Precautions training
- Receive positive personal reference statements
- Foster parents do not need to be married. They may be single or cohabitating. A live-in relationship with a significant other or same-sex partner should be established for at least one year to demonstrate stability.
- Home visits from the Regional Licensing Specialist
- Completing all required forms within the licensing packet
A few other personal notes:
- We found the RAPT training classes (particularly RAPT II) to be very useful. They’ve helped us to parent our bio girls! If you’re on the fence about becoming being a foster parent, consider taking the first class to find out more.
- The licensing process usually takes at least six months.
- You must complete 15 hours of training each year in the form of books, classes, and online lessons to keep your license current.
If you have questions, feel free to message me via the Haute Happenings facebook page or by email (Haute Happenings @ outlook . com). This subject is dear to our hearts, and we’re happy to help connect you to local resources or help answer questions.