Missouri has about 13,700 kids in the foster care system. The figure is a fairly common representation for the state. Representative Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, wants Missouri to recruit prospective foster parents by holding more accelerated training sessions. During a hearing Monday at the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Kelly says she knows of many other adults aspiring to foster but the length of training is a problem for many families.

Photos courtesy of the Missouri Children’s Division website

“I was fortunate to be part of a pilot program when I became licensed that they did it for three Saturdays in a row,” she says. “That was totally providential as I would like to say because I’m telling you right now, if I had to go to nine weeks worth of classes, I probably would not be a foster parent right now.”

Kelly chairs the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, which is made up of state legislators. She wants the state to work on a standardized foster parent training approach.

“I have a phenomenal person in my district who if I could tell her that she could train in three weekends, she would do it in a New York minute,” says Kelly.

State Social Services Department Acting Director Jennifer Tidball says a pilot program in southeast Missouri is underway to recruit more foster parents there.

“It’s less classroom curriculum with the intent to kind of better support foster parents who don’t have the ability to spend nine different times in a classroom,” says Tidball.

She says the state is also hiring full-time recruiters in southeast Missouri to find families willing to foster kids the state is in need of finding care for.

“We don’t always do horrible at recruiting families who want to take a 0 to 5-year-old healthy child,” Tidball says. “Unfortunately, those aren’t typically the kids that we need foster parents to parent.”

For more information on becoming a foster parent, click here.

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