According to Child Crisis Arizona, foster families are in short supply. Officials from the agency claim that there are no beds available in licensed foster homes.
Of the 13,000 children in the foster care system in Arizona, 8,000 are living in Maricopa County.
All agencies in the state have seen a decrease in families applying to become licensed for foster care. This shortage developed a few months ago.
“That’s the million-dollar question — why do we not have enough families in the pipeline?” Torrie Taj, the CEO of Child Crisis Arizona, asked.
She hopes that other families will follow Lea Phillips’ example.
Phillips made her choice to foster a child nearly two years ago. She was actually surprised how smooth the process turned out to be.
“You get a say in the types of children you foster–the ages, the genders. You get a chance to learn about the child, and in the case of Child Crisis and working with shelter staff, we even got to meet our foster child and we spent quite a bit of time before he even moved into our home,” she explained.
Initially, agencies attempt to place children with relatives or foster families. When this isn’t an option, they go to group homes and emergency shelters.
“We all believe that a child deserves to be in a loving home. That’s why we’re asking everybody to consider opening your hearts, your homes and doing a great thing by helping a child in the foster care system,” said Taj.
The process of receiving a license takes approximately six months. Background checks, interviews, and home inspections take place during this time period. A 30 hour training course is also required. Though there are several steps, Phillips says the process is definitely worth it.
“What I didn’t realize…how much fun it would be and how supported I would be throughout the process,” she said.
Lea and her husband fostered their son for just a year and a half, then decided to adopt him. Their son was only six years old when he was placed in foster care.
“He’s gone from being nervous and anxious and scared and shy to becoming goofy and silly and outgoing. It’s been an amazing transition to watch,” said Phillips.
Phillips recommends that potential foster parents attend orientation at Child Crisis. She says this is where her amazing experience began.
“It’s truly been the most rewarding experience of my life and it’s honestly my favorite part of my life right now,” said Phillips.
If you want to learn more, Child Crisis Arizona holds bi-monthly meetings for foster care and adoption exploration. The two locations are in Phoenix and Mesa. Click here for more information.