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DCFS is experiencing a ‘critical’ shortage of foster homes for teenagers

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Department of Children and Family Services is saying they are experiencing a critical shortage of foster families for children 14-17 years old.

According to DCFS, Louisiana has 4,147 children in the foster care system, 634 of those are between the ages of 15 and 17. However, there are only 117 homes willing to foster teenagers in the state. They believe this is due to misconceptions about teenagers in the foster care system.

“That our teenagers in foster care are different from our teenagers that we’re parenting on our own. I think teenagers regardless of where they’re coming from, need that guidance and support from a loving caregiver,” said Kerri Byrd, the Child Welfare Manager, overseeing foster caregiver recruitment and support for DCFS.

Sarah Jackson, a foster mother, has been fostering for nearly 30 years. She says she has fostered children of all ages but stopped counting after 200. Many of which have been teenagers.

“They hear that the children do violence in your home and they’re afraid to open their home up. But if they could just reach out and touch one child’s heart, it can make a difference,” said Jackson, “they need somebody and a home that they can call their home. So that’s the rewarding thing, I love it. I’m just being honest with you. I love it. My children can tell you I love what I do.”

DCFS says their goal is for the number of foster homes to outnumber the number of kids in the system, so they can find perfect matches instead of just an open room.

“Were able to look at our families and say who is going to be able to provide the best possible care for this specific child,” added Byrd.

You can find more information on becoming a foster parent on the DCFS website.


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