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Creating Lasting Impact: The Urgent Need for Foster Parents in Missouri

When a child is placed in foster care, they need connection, belonging and safety. The foster parents who provide them with the support they need during this difficult time create a lasting impact on that child and their whole family.

The goal of foster care is always reunification. And there’s a lot we can do to proactively prevent the conditions that lead to foster care in the first place. Prevention services can include help for parents struggling with inadequate resources, substance use disorder or mental health challenges. These methods aim to keep children with their biological families and out of foster care altogether by offering therapies, treatment services and safety plans for the whole family.

But even with many successful preventive actions in place, foster care may still be necessary for families in crisis. And Missouri critically needs more foster parents. Read this blog to learn about the growing need for foster parents, and how you can help positively impact the life of a child in foster care.

Foster Care Support Services Through KVC Missouri

If foster care prevention isn’t possible, KVC takes action to provide support services for youth in foster care, biological parents and foster parents. When a child first arrives, it’s ideal to find family or other kinship caregivers, to help provide a safe home for the children to stay with family or someone else familiar.

While children are away from their biological parents, KVC evaluates the reasons why the children were removed from their homes. Our team assesses their needs and then works closely with the biological parents to achieve reunification. This can include connecting families with mental health services, therapies, family support coaching, parenting classes and other services. This allows children to reunite with their parents as quickly as safely possible.

Why There is a Need For More Foster Parents in Missouri

All across the United States, thousands of children within the foster care system are looking for a supportive family to take them into their care. Out of all 50 states, Missouri ranks in the top 10 for the number of children in foster care, and the numbers are staggering, with 12,790 children in foster care as of August 2023.

“Because Missouri’s foster care number is so high, it’s led to a statewide placement shortage, which has made it more challenging to be able to help support all of the youth that are coming into care daily,” says Tamara Moore, Director of Child Placing at KVC Missouri.

To meet this need, KVC’s Child Placing department combines foster care licensing and treatment foster care. These children need supportive homes and foster parents who can care for them during a season of heartbreak and trauma.

How Foster Parents Support Children in Foster Care

Foster parents create a loving and supportive environment for youth in foster care, making a long-lasting impact on their lives. Many children come into foster care as a result of traumatic situations and simply need to know that someone is going to care about them.

“Youth who have significant trauma struggle to feel like they belong, like people care about them and like they are worthy of love,” Moore says. “Because of this, children tend to push their foster parents to their limits sometimes as a way to see if this person cares enough about them to work through it together or is yet another person who will give up on them and leave.”

In these cases, children are looking for someone who will stand by them through the tougher moments. And how can foster parents develop this companionship? Here are a few examples.

  • Rally together through the foster care process
  • Stay consistent with love, support, discipline, communication and compassion
  • Work with the biological family when possible to achieve reunification
  • Provide a safe, comforting space
  • Listen, engage and support
  • Encourage togetherness activities, like playing games, having a movie night, spending time outdoors and enjoying each other’s company

The Importance of Foster Care for All Children

It’s more challenging to place some young people than others, especially teens with behavioral needs. Caring for this age group might be intimidating for foster parents initially. However, with a little self-regulation practice and some creativity, foster parents can make a big impact on the lives of teens.

It can also be difficult to identify placements for sets of siblings, due to the challenge of caring for more than one child. But when it’s possible, it’s important to keep siblings together. Brothers and sisters represent an already-established support system. This connection can travel with the children through the foster care journey. During a season of trauma, staying with siblings can make all the difference for children.

Striving for Diversity in Foster Parents

Diversity, equity and inclusion are important in the foster care system. Children and teens in need of a foster family bring their own unique backgrounds and identities — so ensuring a culturally responsive, inclusive setting can make a big difference. KVC encourages foster parents who are single, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and identify as LGBTQIA+ to participate and take on more caretaking roles for fostered youth with similar backgrounds.

Finding a foster home with someone similar to the child creates an immediate, relatable connection that can be highly impactful. For children finding a sense of connection and understanding with foster parents can make a difference. Plus, getting placed into a home with a similar and supportive culture isn’t such a shock.

Lisa’s Story

Lisa Boone, Foster Care Case Aid with KVC Missouri, inspired by her personal experiences with KVC and her own foster parents, chose a career in foster care.

“KVC’s mission resonates with me because it’s true. Everyone at KVC truly wants to help kids because they care and want to see them build a better life for themselves. KVC gives kids a chance to reconnect with their families, it helps rebuild relationships that are/could be sometimes forgotten, it even helps those who aren’t able to reconnect with their families find a family who will connect with them, and give them a chance at having a loving family who genuinely cares and wants the best for them.

I was put into foster care because my mom wasn’t capable of taking care of my brother or me at the time because she’d rather be drunk or high. At the time, I was just an angry teenager who didn’t understand why my mom couldn’t be a mom to us. I hated the world. I wanted to disappear and never come back, but I couldn’t do that because of my brother.

When I was put into foster care,  I realized early on that they cared about us and genuinely wanted to help us. They were patient with us and took the time to explain things to us without looking at us as just some dumb kids who were put into the system. We were never reunited back with our mom, but because of the team I had while in foster care, my brother and I were able to find people who wanted us to be a part of their family.

Lisa Boone, Foster Care Case Aid with KVC Missouri

The situation I was put into and the people who were put in my life have shaped who I am as a person, today. They’re the reason I’m working with KVC now. I want to give the kids who are like me a chance at finding what I found. I’m working to become a case manager because of KVC. I’m becoming a case manager because of the love and compassion that everyone gave me.”

Guide the Journey of Youth in Need

The impact of foster parents cannot be understated — and in Missouri, the need is great. Interested in becoming a foster parent? We’re here to support you. Learn more today.

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