DENVER – Colorado officials are looking to recruit more than 1,000 new foster families to make up for a shortage statewide.
The Colorado Department of Human Services said Tuesday that it needs to add 1,200 more foster families in the next two years. The state currently has just over 2,000.
10,000 kids statewide were put in out-of-home care last year -- including foster care, group homes and residential child care facilities -- and officials say that number just continues to grow.
Demand is especially high for families that represent various minority groups -- such as those who identify as Hispanic, black, LGBTQ or American Indian – in order to improve the diversity of foster homes and ensure that children can be placed in a home that is the right fit.
For example, children of American Indian descent must be placed with parents who are enrolled in a tribe and currently, there are only 10 such foster parents in Colorado.
And while there are nearly 2,000 Hispanic children in the foster care system, there are just 450 Hispanic foster families. Similarly, there are 200 black foster parents but 600 black foster children in the system in Colorado.
Though minority families are in high demand, officials say they encourage everyone to apply.
“We can’t allow so many Colorado children to end the day without a safe place to sleep,” said Luis Guzman, acting director of the CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families. “We need adults from all communities and backgrounds to step up and help our kids. You don’t have to be a perfect to be a foster or adoptive parent. All that matters is that you are ready to make a difference in a child or teen’s life at a time when they need you the most.”
There’s also a need for foster parents who can take in children with special needs as well as older children and sibling groups who would otherwise be split up between different homes.
The state has so far given $100,000 in grant money to local agencies to ramp up recruitment and officials said they plan to distribute another $100,000.
To learn more about fostering or adopting, log on to co4kids.org.