PARKERSBURG - Nurturing and comfortable homes for children of all ages are needed as children are turned down for local shelter daily because of a lack of available foster homes, an official said.
"We are currently pretty much at a crisis point because we get calls from the state almost every day with them looking to place a child in local foster care and we do not have enough foster families available," said Carna Metheney-White, Child and Family Service supervisor with the Children's Home Society of West Virginia in Parkersburg.
Metheney-White said the need for more foster families has always been in play, but it has become increasingly stronger as foster families frequently adopt the children in their care.
"It is a wonderful thing they do by adopting these children and forever making them a part of their families," Metheney-White said. "But it also puts the Children's Home Society in a bind because the permanent placement of these children means one less foster home is available; by them adopting, it opens up a greater need for foster homes."
Nearly each day the Children's Home Society's Parkersburg office at 1717 St. Marys Ave. receives phone calls from other agencies around the state that have children in need of shelter and support who cannot be placed in Wood County because there are not enough foster families available.
Foster families are the greatest asset of the Children's Home Society of West Virginia, according to Metheney-White.
"Foster families provide these children with not only a home and food, but also a safe, secure and stable home environment that includes compassion and nurturing," she said. "Most often, our children are not only being removed from their biological families in times of crisis, but also their schools, churches and groups.
"Because of the need for foster homes, local children are taken throughout the state for care when we would prefer to have them stay here with their friends, in their school and close to their relatives and friends," Metheney-White said. "We are doing everything we can to help our children be able to stay in their local communities but we need the community's help."
People interested in becoming a foster parent are asked to contact Angela Hatfield of The Children's Home Society of West Virginia's Parkersburg office at 304-485-0650. To learn more about the private, nonprofit child welfare organization visit the website at www.childhswv.org.
Metheney-White said that while homes are needed to care for individual children, the largest need is for families able to foster multiple children.
"We are seeing the biggest need for foster homes that can take siblings," she said. "We prefer to keep siblings together and are often forced to separate them because the space is not available."
Homes willing to take in teenagers are also in demand.
The organization needs foster space for as many as four siblings at a time, Metheney-White said.
The process to become a foster family includes the completion of a home study, training and background checks. Once a child or children are placed in the home, The Children's Home Society will continue providing support to ensure the placement is successful.