About 13,000 children are in foster care in Missouri, and the state Children’s Division says the need for more foster homes is growing.
“We had a steady decrease in the number of foster children in the state’s care from around 2004 or 2005 to 2009.” said Tim Decker with the Division. “Ever since 2009, it’s been climbing by three to five percent a year.”
He said fewer than 6,000 Missouri homes are providing care for foster children.
“They may not all have children right now but they may be available to take children because they’ve met their requirements and they’re ready to go,” said Decker. “Others may have done it for a while and maybe aren’t taking children right now. So, that’s kind of a moving number in terms of how many are available and what age groups [homes] are available for. One of our most substantial struggles is having foster homes for older youth.”
Decker said though there aren’t enough foster homes, if a child is required to be removed from the home, a place will be found for that child.
He said respite care is also an option for foster parents who need short term care for a foster child. Respite care gives foster parents a break from childcare, for a weekend, for example.
The requirements to become a foster parent include a background check, home inspection, training, health screening, and financial assessment, among other things. To adopt or become a foster parent, contact a local Children’s Division office.