BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- It’s a need experts say continues to grow every year as more and more kids enter the foster care program.
Brown County’s foster care supervisor, Gena Schupp, said the number of kids in the program has increased 10 to 15 percent since last year.
At any given time, there are up to 200 children in the foster care program in Brown County.
Schupp said as more kids enter the system, the need for more foster parents increases as well.
“We have probably the biggest need we’ve had in the last five years, and it continues to grow for a lot of different reasons: homelessness, drug abuse and domestic violence,” said Schupp.
The need for more foster parents even trickles down into the organizations the county works with, including the non-profit Foundations Health & Wholeness.
“Treatment foster care is working with children who have emotional and behavioral challenges due to the trauma they received growing up in their homes,” said Ryan Good, president and CEO of Foundations Health & Wholeness.
Good said they’ve almost doubled services since 2015. In 2015, they helped 58 kids. In 2017, they helped 109.
“Every week we have to turn down referrals for children in need of foster care services just because there’s not enough supply of foster families in this community,” said Good.
The biggest need, Good and Schupp say, is for placement of siblings and teenagers.
“Without a stable foster home, their odds of graduating high school or even going to college are very slim,” said Schupp.
To help those who foster older kids, Foundations hosts a 9-week course in the summer to give them a safe place to hang out and learn important life skills.
“We have an island for our kitchen where they can learn cooking skills and food prep,” said Good. “We also have a laundry room where they learn laundry skills.”
Good said they offer year-round, 24/7 support to foster parents.
“It is a rewarding and challenging service to these children and our foster families really have their own community. It’s almost a family within the organization,” said Good.
To join the community of foster parents, Schupp said it comes down to basics.
“We have a significant need for foster parents,” said Schupp. “You don’t have to be perfect. We are not looking for perfect parents. We are just looking for people who want to change the lives of children in the community.”
Potential foster families go through training, background checks and home visits before being licensed to care for foster kids. Foster parents also have to be 21 or older to qualify.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Brown County, the county is hosting a series of informational sessions. The first one is Tuesday, January 9, at 6 p.m. It will be at Brown County Human Services, which is in the Sophie Beaumont Building located at 111 North Jefferson Street in downtown Green Bay.
If you would like more information about Foundations Health & Wholeness, visit www.foundationsgb.org.