Capacity Issue Burgeoning In Utah Foster Care
The disparity between Utah's foster families and foster children is in the hundreds to thousands. Currently, there are 2,700 children in the foster system, but only ever around 1,400 households available to house them. One of the biggest issues with recruitment is finding volunteers willing and qualified to go through the training.
Daniel Webster is the Director of Foster Adoptive Family Recruitment with Utah Foster Care, a group contracted with the Division of Family and Child Services.
"There is about 30-32 hours of training that we require all our families to take...The majority of the training comes down to what the needs of the children will be. If the child has had developmental delays or other challenges which has made it hard for them to learn in school, then they're gonna teach them how to meet those needs..." He described.
However, in a state where minority children are overrepresented in the foster care system, another big issue is finding households where children can feel at home.
"With everything else in these childrens' lives in turmoil...with them trying to figure out who they are, if they can be in a home that speaks their language, similar in culture and...religious affiliation, that makes all the obstacles of being removed from their home much more manageable..." Webster explained.
Webster said the average amount of time a child spends in Foster Care is 12 to 14 months. Most often, the reasons for removing children from their original homes are: mental instability, substance abuse and unsafe living conditions. But the goal is always to reunite children with their parents or closest relatives, once said relatives have met recovery goals or requirements proving their children will be safe with them.