The Kansas Dept. of Children and Families shows there are more than 7,500 children in foster care in Kansas, 77 in Sumner County.
"I know that we are always looking for new homes to take kids all over the state," Nora Pate, foster care worker for TFI, a child welfare agency, said.
In this time of pandemic, classes for people wishing to be foster parents are still being conducted, but they are being done remotely.
"So many things have stopped that I think it’s an assumption that anything we do as a group isn’t available to us right now," Pate said. "Letting these people know that classes are still out there may open doors that people didn’t know were still available."
Anyone wishing to sign up for virtual classes can call 1-833-7FOSTER or sign up at tfifamily.org.
A lot of times, children are placed in foster homes outside their home counties, which isn’t preferable, Pate said.
"We would love to be able keep kids in their home counties with their schools, their teachers, their support network, with everything that would make them more successful and then closer to parents so we can find out whether they are able to return home," Pate said. "It’s very hard when we have to ask a kid who comes into custody to give up everything."
TFI only has two homes in Sumner County, Pate said.
Before placing kids in foster homes, workers try to place them with a relative or a "non-relative kinship" home kids are familiar with, she said.
"Everybody behaves better and does better when they have a connection although foster homes are needed for those kids who don’t have resources," Pate said. "It would be perfect if we put every kid into a home they already know."
When a child doesn’t have those kinds of resources "foster parents are the ones who step until TFI or another agency can see if those homes are appropriate."
Jason and Jessica Rains are foster parents licensed to have up to four children. Years earlier, they were foster parents to two boys whom they later adopted. Their children are grown now.
"We have the space to do it," Jessica Rains said. "We’re helping by giving them an opportunity to live in a stable home while their parents are working at whatever needs worked at."
Initially, coming to a new home is scary for most children, Rains said.
"They don’t know us," she said. "It can be challenging because some kids don’t have structure After three weeks, children tend to be adjusted, Rains said.and it can be a jolt at first."
No matter what the situation, all kids want to go home and that’s the goal, Rains said.
"You won’t get to keep these kiddos," she said. "I have the mindset that I know I’m only helping them for a short period of time. They’re going to go home. That’s first and foremost. I’m not here to take anybody’s place as parents. I’m their temporary guardian."
Rains said she does keep in contact with kids she has fostered, mostly through social media. "Every kiddo that leaves, I always give them my phone number."