Foster Parent Shortage - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/04/05 - Nacogdoches

Foster Parent Shortage

by Donna McCollum

Case workers with Child Protective Services hosted "Elevating The Lives Of Children". Blue balloons were released across the state in honor of adopted and foster kids. National Foster Care Month brings attention to the incredible shortage of foster families. The balloon launch was a tribute to kids still in need of a safe home.

Right now, about 35 families in Angelina County provide homes for children. In the Nacogdoches County area there are less than 100 families serving over 200 children. In Texas there are over 16,400 children in foster care yet less than 7800 foster parents.

The debated issue is why there aren't enough foster providers. Could it be there aren't enough people who want to be foster parents, or is the door being closed on those who do want to help? It may be a combination of both.

Leola Davis caresses her 60th or perhaps 70th foster baby. Ms. Davis has lost count of all the children she's brought into her home. Davis said, "Everybody is family in our home."

Davis is the traditional foster care parent wanting more foster family volunteers. "It's important we make sacrifices sometimes. That way, you can help many different children if you're ready for that calling."

Attempts are being made to open up the opportunity for more people to become foster parents, but it's met by opposition, explained Lisa King with Nacogdoches County Child Welfare Board. "There's pending legislation for gay families not to be able to be foster parents." Those with the difficult job of finding people willing to foster call that an irresponsible move. "The Child Protective Services staff in Nacogdoches County are very concerned at any legislation to limit people who actually want to take care of foster children," said King.

The amendment proposing a ban on homosexual foster parents was approved in the State House on an 81 to 58 vote. It is part of Senate Bill 6, the Child Protective Services reform bill.

Fosters seldom say their foster parents' sexual preference makes a difference in their lives. Velleader Grant was a foster her entire childhood. She aged out of foster care and loves her foster mother, Ms. Davis very much. She understands the advantages of foster care. "You get a home, love, structure, and as children, that was one thing I needed the most, and that's what these children needed the most."

Out of love, Ms. Davis, who is married, provided the strong foundation her foster daughters now use in adulthood. During such a dire shortage of foster parents, the question is, should anyone be prevented from having the same opportunity?

If you'd like to make a donation to help abused or neglected children or for information about foster parenting, click here to visit the Texas Foster Family Association Web site (the Lufkin / Nacogdoches area is in Region 5), or contact Jennifer Studdard, Texas State Foster Parent Regional Representative at jstuddard@tellcon.net

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