Washington’s largest social service agency today [Tuesday] released its plan to improve the way it engages foster parents. The goal is to increase the number of families that apply to take foster children and retain more of the families in the system.
The Department of Children, Youth and Families says it’s focusing on improvements in three areas. It plans to have prospective foster parents apply online, rather than on paper. It hopes to improve communications with foster parents. The third area involves money, says Erik Larson. He’s a supervisor in the agency’s Homefinders unit, which works to place foster children in homes in the Spokane area.
“One of the things we’re looking at right now is our rate study to determine is the reimbursement amount foster parents are getting, is that adequate? Or does it need to be raised? That hasn’t been looked at in years,” Larson said.
The agency says the state has about 9,200 children in some form of foster care situation. Nearly half of those are staying with relatives. The rest are in private homes or group homes. And it has about 5,100 licensed foster homes. Larson and others who are responsible for placing children say it’s getting harder to find good homes for both short and long-term placements. They’re planning a public campaign to explain the ins and outs of being foster parents in an attempt to get more people involved.