ST. GEORGE —A press conference is being held Wednesday at 1 p.m. featuring St. George Mayor Jon Pike, representatives of Utah Foster Care and foster families. The event will take place at Utah Foster Care’s location at 491 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 2B in St. George.
According to a press release from event organizers, the press conference is being held to highlight the shortage of foster parents.
In addition to the shortage of existing foster homes, the number of foster parents attending training classes has also dropped significantly over the last six months. Ben Ashcraft, representative for Utah Foster Care’s southwest region, told St. George News that attendance is down more than 30% from where the agency is typically at during this point in their fiscal year.
Ashcraft also said there is a significant shortage of foster homes for teens and other challenging placements statewide, including foster families that can care for sibling groups.
Typically the state has an average of about 2,700 children in foster care at any given time and 1,300 licensed foster homes to place them in, Utah Foster Care says. More than 2,100 children were placed in foster care last year alone.
Substance abuse plays a role in more than 40% of the cases where the Division of Child and Family Services becomes involved due to abuse or neglect. Less than half of the children placed in foster care are reunited with their parents, with nearly 30% of the children placed for adoption and about 15% that are placed with a family member, according to Department of Child and Family Services’ 2019 Annual Report.
For children who cannot reunify safely with their family, adoption services can connect children to a home through relatives, families who fostered them or other families seeking to adopt. Last year, 648 children were adopted from foster care in Utah after an average wait of 17 months, the report said.
“Foster parents are needed throughout Utah for children of all ages and races, especially for sibling groups of children from the same home, medically fragile children, teenagers and minority children,” according to a statement posted recently by the Utah Department of Human Services.
- What: Utah Foster Care event with St. George Mayor Jon Pike.
- When: Wednesday, Jan. 8. at 1 p.m.
- Where: Utah Foster Care, 491 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 2B, St. George
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