MERCER, Pennsylvania (WYTV) – May is National Foster Care Month.
Mercer County Children and Youth Services is hosting an event to spread the word about the services they provide for foster families.
In 2014, there were more than 415,000 thousand children in foster care. That seems like a huge number, but it’s actually been on the decrease. In 2005, there were 513,000 kids in foster homes.
In Mercer County there are 28 children in foster care, but only 20 foster care homes. That means 8 kids are placed in homes outside the county.
Mercer County Children and Youth services works hard to try and keep children inside the county: Close to “home” and even in the same school system.
On Wednesday evening, they hope to meet with current foster parents to show their appreciation, and with prospective parents, to explain the qualifications and the process involved.
“Meet with the families, discuss with them what’s involved in the process, provide the support that they need during the process,” says Children and Youth Services Supervisor Jameekia Barnett of the Wednesday event.
The agency says all you need to have is a loving home and a passion for children. You do have to be at least 21 years old, be able to pass an FBI and state background check, and a child abuse clearance.
“We pay for all the clearances and take care of kind of all of those things”, says Barnett. “And really walk them through, kind of guide them by their hand through the whole entire process and prepare them for their first placement.”
For those wishing to become foster parents, sometimes the additional expense of having another child in the home is a concern.
“A lot of people worry about how they are going to care for the children, and we do provide a subsidy for those parents once they are certified and take children into their home,” says agency case worker Kendra manning. “We also allow clothing allowance for children to help with those kinds of things.”
The event is Wednesday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mercer County Children and Youth Services, which is at 8425 Sharon-Mercer Rd., just west of Mercer, Pennsylvania.