Dire need for foster families in Eau Claire County - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Dire need for foster families in Eau Claire County

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire County puts out the call for more foster families and this is why: Every two hours in Wisconsin a child goes into foster care because of abuse, neglect or alcohol and drugs in the home.

An emergency situation, where a child needs to be removed from a home, can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The county's fostering system has to be able to respond right away, That's why having foster families, ready and waiting, is so important.

"The need for quality foster homes is real," says Bill Stein, with the Department of Human Services.  Calls over concerns of child abuse and neglect are taken at the department every day.  "On average we're receiving probably 15 child protective service reports a day in Eau Claire County," continued Stein.

Those reports come in around the clock. Whether it's two in the afternoon or two a.m., if a child is un-safe county workers respond immediately to remove them from the home. They look first to the child's relatives, and if no one is found, will place them with an available foster family.

"We have 74 children in county licensed care, that's a high number for this county which means that these are families that are unable to take additional children," said Sherill Jahr, a foster care coordinator in Eau Claire.

"There's always a need, there are always kids and families in crisis and I know that they have a pretty short list of people who are available to help, so the people who are available get called on a lot," commented Krista Johnson.  Johnson fell in love with fostering when she first became a foster parent 7 years ago, saying, "It's I think, the most powerful thing we can do."

Right now foster homes are needed for children of all ages, but especially for one age group: Teens, who can be harder to place than others because of worries over emotional or behavioral problems.  "A lot of them are just so in need of some family structure and they haven't had that," commented Jahr.

To keep up with that need the goal is to recruit 1,000 new foster families, statewide, this year.

If you'd like to learn more about fostering call Eau Claire County's Department of Human Services at 715-839-2300.

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