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BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Human Services is actively recruiting new foster families in Central Oregon, due to a critical shortage. 

 
Jamie Giannettino, of Redmond, has been a foster parent for three years. She understands why others might be hesitant to step up, "The biggest fear that I hear, ‘Oh, I want to do that, but I’m afraid that I would love them and not be able to let them go'." But, she says it’s rewarding to help a child transition back home or to a permanent placement, and she often keeps in touch with the family so she doesn’t have to say goodby forever.
 
There are currently around 300 foster kids from Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, "140 are five years of age and younger; and of those, 44 kiddos are children under the age of one year," says Cherie Ferguson, a foster parent recruiter with DHS, "That’s been changing. We really do have a need for school-age kids coming into care, for homes for them. But, really, we are starting to see kids who are younger that are coming into care." And, she tells KBND News, there aren't enough local families certified to care for kids in their own communities, close to school and friends. "Deschutes County has the lion’s share of our general foster homes – those are homes that can take any child that we deem is a good placement. We have a huge need in some of the smaller communities, right now, is really where that is. Like, Crook County, right now we only have seven general foster homes. But, we have 37 kids that are coming into care through Crook County." And, the situation is even more dire in and around Madras, "Jefferson County, we only have four general foster parents and that’s a huge suffering area, because we have, right now, 49 kids that are in Jefferson County. So, doing the math, you can imagine how many kids are placed out of county and not in their natural support system."
 
DHS will hold a two-hour orientation for prospective foster parents on Saturday at Bend’s Riverbend Church, starting at 9:30 a.m. Another is scheduled for Madras July 9th, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Call DHS at 1-800-331-0503 or click HERE for more information. 

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