A Growing Need for Foster Homes in W.Va.
Meeting Set for Monday To Learn More Information
WHEELING — The numbers are high and growing. The need is critical.
As of March 2019, there were 6,938 children and teens in foster care in the state of West Virginia, and the number changes almost daily. The “need” in question is for foster homes, especially in the Northern Panhandle.
That’s the message National Youth Advocate Program officials want the public to know. As the number increases, the need for loving foster parents is greater than ever.
Nadine Wilson, licensing coordinator with the local NYAP, said a search is on for foster parents with a goal to establish 30 foster homes in 60 days in the Northern Panhandle. That includes Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties.
“Currently there are only 12 licensed foster homes in the Northern Panhandle. We’d like to see five to 10 more homes established in the Wheeling area. There is definitely a need,” Wilson said.
To provide more information about foster parenting, the NYAP will host a community kick-off meeting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at the Flatiron Coffee Shop, 1509 Main St. in Wheeling. At the meeting, the public can get the facts, ask questions and share ideas regarding foster parenting. Free coffee and danish will be served.
Wilson explained that when there is no foster home available for a child or children in their local area, they are sent to a foster home away from their friends and school. “This just adds to the trauma they already have experienced,” Wilson said. “And with the drug epidemic, this is really a crisis.”
Foster parents can be single or married, 21-66 years old. In some cases, someone older than 66 can foster if they meet the criteria. Foster parents are given background checks, must take classes, be financially stable and undergo a safety inspection of their homes. Foster parents receive a stipend for each child they care for, and children are provided health insurance coverage through the state. The NYAP also provides assistance with transportation to doctors’ visit and other simple needs.
“You don’t have to be rich, just willing to open your heart and offer love,” Wilson said.
Many of the children in foster care also are available for adoption due to parents relinquishing their parental rights.
Wilson said while a person may not be able to foster a child, he or she could assist other foster parents by offering babysitting services or other support. A support group is in place locally at the NYAP office on Parkview Lane in Elm Grove. The main office for the agency is in Fairmont. NYAP has been in operation since the 1980s and serves eight states.
Wilson is available to speak about foster care to any civic, church or community group. She can be reached at the Wheeling office at 304-243-1865.