Web Foster Home Shortage00000143

tuscaloosa department of human resources

Right now in Tuscaloosa County, 140 children are away from their families through no fault of their own, and many are being moved to other cities due to a critical shortage of local foster homes.

According to the Tuscaloosa County Department of Human Resources, there are only 40 qualified foster homes across the county.  That’s a staggering shortage, social workers said.

Resource Worker for Tuscaloosa County DHR Carrie Vickery said she sees the results first hand. Children who are already traumatized by the loss of their normal home environment are being moved as far away as Mobile because of the foster home shortage.

“Unfortunately what that means is that a lot of our kids end up having to go to other counties,” Vickery said.  “We call other agencies or other DHR counties to see if they have available foster homes, putting our kids pretty far out from us.”

Vickery said the long distance is an additional hardship for children, and DHR’s priority is placing them in loving homes near their families.

“These kids need it the most,” Vickery said, “The reason they’re in foster care isn’t their fault and it’s not their fault they have to leave their community. We want to be able to have them here with us so that we can be working with them.”

Becoming a foster parent is not as difficult as some people may think, Vickery said.

With a qualifying background check and safety home inspections, anyone older than 19 can serve as a foster family. Married couples must be married at least one year to qualify. Those who are single are also encouraged to apply.

Funds are available to assist with a child’s needs, and DHR provides ongoing support.

“We are here to welcome anyone that’s willing to give it a try,” Vickery said.

For information on becoming a foster parent in Tuscaloosa County, call Vickery at 205-562-6004 or visit dhr.alabama.gov.

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