Special Report: Foster Care Crisis

Special Report: Foster Care Crisis

KENTUCKY (WFIE) - More than 7,900 children in Kentucky are in need of good homes, and state officials are reaching out to find people to serve their communities as foster families.

"I always wanted to be a mom and this was not how I thought that would be but it certainly has been a great adventure," said Meghan Payne.

Meghan became a foster mom to five biological brothers a few years ago.

"The main purpose of a foster parent is to be a safe place for kids whose families are in crisis."

She and her parents took training classes, went through a home study process and soon began fostering all five boys.

"I hope nobody thinks that you have to be special or extraordinary to be a foster home.  If you have extra space in your home and also just maybe an aptitude to love on a kid that's hurting or scared or in crisis."

Adria Johnson is the commissioner for the Kentucky Dept. for Community-Based Services.  Her mission is to recruit foster families for children in the foster care system.  State records show 1,481 children in 2015 were removed from homes because of their caregiver's substance abuse.

"It's affecting the foster care system like it's affecting every other system which is overwhelming it and stressing it," said Johnson.

Johnson said the state is partnering with the Dave Thomas Foundation to potentially add 71 foster family recruiters across Kentucky.

"Hopefully, if you come back and talk to us in a year or 6 months, hopefully, you'll see some of these needs being met and having some adequate resources to serve these children."

The state also plans to expand partnerships with churches and non-profit groups, and streamline the fostering process, making it easier on families.

"If we're going to help our community get healthy, then we all need to be willing to pitch in and roll up our sleeves. You being that positive, stabilizing influence in the life of a child that is experiencing trauma or instability for whatever that reason is, I don't know what greater reward you could have."

Fostering was so rewarding for Meghan, she moved forward with the opportunity to make all six of them a forever family.

"There were a lot of reasons that made it crazy. There were a lot of reasons that would've made it not right for some people, but God just kept laying on my heart what's right in front of you, what can you do right now," said Payne.

In December, 2015, Kevin, Dustin, Romer, Kennedy and Brian were adopted.

Once a temporary home, now a firm foundation.

"I just hope that they always know that they're loved no matter what, that I believe they can do anything they want to do, that they can be anything they want to be.  But, most of all, I hope they grow up to be strong men of God that do wonderful things for the world."
  
If you are unsure about whether fostering a child is right for you, Meghan suggested taking the classes as a first step to finding out more about it. You can get started right now by clicking here.

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