BEND, OR -- An organization aimed at supporting foster families and helping prevent burnout, has launched in Central Oregon. Katie Clemens has been a Deschutes County foster parent for six years, and is part of the team launching Every Child, locally.
She says it’s important that families have access to qualified respite care and training, "There have been pockets of support for that in place, but without an over-arching organization to channel all the efforts through in a streamlined way. DHS is a governmental agency that has limited Legislative funding, so they can only do as much as they can do without the community kind of rallying around to provide support. The role of Every Child is to kind of step in alongside DHS and say ‘we see you, we hear you, we want to be a support as well'."
Every Child also helps recruit new foster families, "In a given year, recently we’ve had about 11,000 kids in Oregon come through foster care and we don’t have enough homes, statewide. Deschutes County is no different than any other county where we need more foster homes." Clemens tells KBND News, "The goal would be that we can make a strategic placement for every child coming into foster care, and that we’d have a list of waiting foster homes. And, what we currently have is not enough foster homes and kids coming into care where we cannot make strategic placements, where kids get bounced around from home to home, sibling groups often get split up, and kids have to stay in communities outside of their community and school district."
The nonprofit is based in Portland but relies on grassroots support in each community as it rolls out across the state. The group hopes to be statewide by 2022. On Tuesday, they’ll host an event for prospective foster parents, "Specifically for people that feel curious about exploring becoming a foster parent, but don’t really know who to pose their questions to, or have a lot of questions that they’d like to sit down and have a chat with an existing foster parent," says Clemens. The "Exploring Fostering" event starts at 7 p.m. on November 13, at Atlas Cider Company in Bend. Visit their Facebook page for more information.