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Tennessee needs thousands of foster families, how you can help

There’s about 9,000 children in the system and about 4,000 foster homes, according to Youth Villages.
How you can help give a kid a safe place to go
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 5:00 PM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Officials announced Tennessee was in need of thousands of foster homes as the number of foster children has grown. There was about 9,000 children in the system and about 4,000 foster homes as of Monday, according to Youth Villages.

In Knox County, there was about 650 children in foster care.

“We are seeing that number steadily increase. So throughout the years that number has kept going higher and higher,” Foster Parent Trainer and Recruiter with Youth Villages, Allison Paschal, said.

Youth Villages was one of the largest foster care providers in the state.

They try to find as many foster homes as they can by doing community outreach and having current foster families spread the word to their friends.

Due to the pandemic, substance abuse and other factors, there’s more kids ending up in foster care.

“It is a large problem because of different societal issues. The number of foster kids is steadily increasing and because of that we also need the number of foster families that we have to also increase as well,” Paschal explained, “Because of that that is why we do so much recruitment and we ask that everyone talk to their friends and families and co-workers to really help spread that awareness so that number can start increasing with the amount of foster children we have.”

Foster parent, Michael Clark, had more than a dozen kids ranging from infant to teen, stay at his home with his family. He and his wife have two biological kids and adopted two kids who were in foster care. He also took in a 9-month-old foster baby that’s currently in his care.

“It has been probably the most challenging thing that our family has ever embarked on, but it’s also been probably the most rewarding,” Clark said.

On top of the need for families, there’s also been a shortage of Department of Children’s Service workers. A spokesperson for the state organization said there’s 315 caseworker vacancies specifically for the foster care program across the state.

If you are interested in working at DCS, click here.

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, click here.

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