Foster care deficit persists |

Foster care deficit persists

Despite recruitment efforts on the parts of Placer and Nevada counties and private foster care agencies, still not enough foster homes exist in the Truckee-Tahoe area to support the needs of local youth.

While the number of foster children is much smaller in the Tahoe-Truckee area, authorities say the area has an acute shortage of qualified families to support them.

“We have a crying need here for more [foster care families],” said Deborah Ryan, Nevada County Health and Human Services program manager.

Last fall just four foster care families were licensed with private agencies in Truckee and across the North Shore, including families that cannot serve as an emergency resource for youths taken from their homes, California Department of Social Services public information officer Oscar Ramirez told the Sierra Sun in September.

And the need for more families continues today as Placer and Nevada counties work with local foster agencies to recruit more qualified homes to provide dependent children a family environment in the Truckee-Tahoe area.

Nevada County is currently working with the Truckee Rotary on a community presentation in May to demonstrate the need for more foster care homes.

“The whole purpose is to raise some awareness in the area and that we really need foster care,” said Rachel Pena, a program manager with Nevada County Child Protective Services. “And to see if there is anything the Rotary can do to further that goal.”

Sierra Adoption Services used to have a few registered foster families in both Truckee and North Tahoe, but the families recently finalized adoptions and are no longer eligible to receive foster children. And Placer County currently has no families in the area licensed to take in foster children.

Because there are so few emergency foster families in North Tahoe and Truckee, children who are taken from their homes in the middle of the night because their parents were arrested for drugs or domestic violence, are taken to such faraway places as Auburn or Grass Valley.

“We have people transporting children all the way down the hill,” said Ryan. “If the point is to give families [the opportunity] to reunite in a healthy way, how is this done if the child is 40 miles away?”

In Placer County alone, approximately 350 children live in the custody of the foster care system at any given time, with 110 licensed foster families that come and go, said Debbie Lind of the Placer Children’s System of Care, in a previous interview.

And a number of those children are from the Tahoe portion of Placer County.

“Within Placer County, the goal is to have a child in that community be able to remain in their school and their neighborhood,” said Kimberly Harris, foster family developer with Placer County. “The goal is that every neighborhood school have at least one family.”

None of the county officials or foster agency representatives could offer an explanation for the deficit of foster families in the Tahoe-Truckee community, but all agreed that there is a need for more.

“We could be far more positive up here if people could understand the critical role of foster care … keeping families healthy,” said Ryan.

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