West Virginia Struggles With Foster Care Crisis
When one thinks of resources residents are in need of in West Virginia, many minds jump to jobs and other various avenues. However, one need oftentimes overlooked is the foster family crisis. According to Kim Fruner – Family Service Coordinator with Genesis Foster Care and Adoption Services – there are approximately 6,899 children in foster care. Of that large number, it was reported that 414 of those children are being placed with foster parents out of state, and 608 are in group residential care. This is as a result of a lack of foster families in the state.
Fruner explained Genesis Foster Care and Adoption Services works to keep children in the same area they were previously living. This is because the agency wants to keep some stability in the lives of the children, as much of it is being uprooted. However, this isn’t always feasible with the shortage of foster families.
While Genesis Foster Care and Adoption Services is located in Clarksburg, a satellite office opened in Paden City. From this move, Fruner has learned there are 33 kids in foster care in Wetzel County and only three foster families available.
She also said, “While I don’t have the numbers for Tyler County for this year, as of the end of last year, there were only five foster families.”
These statistics show a great need that isn’t being met within the local area. Fruner said for many children, there isn’t a home where they can be sent.
As a result, Fruner desires for there to be public awareness on this issue. She explained many people are misinformed about the requirements of becoming a foster parent, and she wished to correct this view. Fruner said while many people think they must be married to fill this role, it is not actually required. It was said the basic guidelines for becoming a foster parent in West Virginia is for one to be at least 21 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or the equivalent of one, meet the basic income guidelines, have a reliable form of transportation, be willing to complete the required 30 hours of PRIDE training – which is free of charge, agree to use non-physical discipline for children in their care, be willing to have all adults in the home undergo a complete background check, and allow staff to complete a health and safety check of the home.
Fruner said that part of her job is to assist families in the process of becoming foster parents. She explained she helps with paperwork in the process of getting them certified, and she conducts the PRIDE training whenever is most convenient for the family. The PRIDE training was described as “training designed to help foster parents gain knowledge and skills necessary to make a positive change in the life of a child,” and Fruner works to eliminate any possible barriers by making herself available at any time to complete this.
It was also said by Fruner that Genesis provides foster families with 24-hour support and crisis intervention and a competitive per diem to help absorb the costs of providing care to foster children. In addition to this, Fruner said that she is available to assist families at any time. She also explained she continues to work with the families after the initial process.
As Genesis wants what is best for the children, there is a policy to work towards reunification with the biological family. As such, Fruner explained she works with both the foster family and the biological family. However, the need for more foster families is still dire.
For anyone interested in learning more regarding fostering or fostering to adopt, contact Kim Fruner with Genesis at 304-200-3374.