Foster family shortage affecting 182 kids in El Paso Co.
Special need for families for teens, sibling groups
The statistics are startling, 182 kids in El Paso County have no place to call home because of a shortage of foster families.
"There's a very high need for foster families that can help us care for our youth," said Lee Hodge, El Paso Co. child welfare manager.
For now, those kids are placed in congregate care: group homes or residential facilities. Hodge said many of the children are teenagers or groups of siblings who are the most challenging to find homes for.
"I do think that some people come into foster care with the hopes of getting a little baby," said Hodge.
After becoming licensed foster parents more than a year ago, Farrah and Matthew Frye quickly learned how great the need is for loving homes.
"We got licensed and less than 24 hours later, we got a call saying, 'We have a sibling group of four,'" said Farrah.
The Fryes are now foster parents to a 15-year-old boy and three girls, ages 11, 14 and 18. The Fryes are in the process of adopting the 18-year-old.
"We just felt like, we want to love any children regardless of their age, so we kept our age range really open from 0-18," said Farrah. "We really wanted to keep siblings together and let them have each other to lean on."
The couple, who learned they couldn't have biological children, said they did have concerns about becoming foster parents.
"I had a lot worries and fears and anxieties of my own," said Matthew. "(About) what this would do to change our lives."
The couple said the four amazing people they've come to know have only changed things for the better in their home, and they realize there are many other kids just like theirs.
"Just looking for someone to love them, to be their cheerleader, to come along side them and tell them what wonderful people they are," Farrah said.
Child welfare workers say that the goal is always to reunite children with their biological families whenever possible. Even with that knowledge, the Fryes said they love their foster kids with their whole hearts.
"One of our mottos is: as long as you're with us, you're ours. For however long that is," Farrah said.
There's a need for foster families all over the state. In southern Colorado, El Paso Co. has the greatest need, but Fremont and Pueblo counties are both looking for about 20 families. Teller county needs 12 families. Click on the name of your county for information on how to become a foster parent.
There are also opportunities to be a part of the support system for foster parents.
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