BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — According to Brittany Pugh, the Foster Care Program Director at NECCO, there are at least 7,000 children in the foster program in West Virginia and that number is only growing.
“School getting back in, we have seen an increase in referrals due to the fact that people are reporting,” said Pugh.
An increase in referrals combined with a shortage means most kids do not have a place to go.
“A lot of our kids in the area either have to go to shelters, they stay with the Department for weeks. We’ve had several referrals where that has happened here recently,” said Pugh.
Local agencies are actively trying to recruit more foster families, but misconceptions about adoption requirements and the foster system in general can drive people away. Being a foster parent does not mean you have to adopt; the ultimate goal is to bring families who might need a little help back together.
“We hope that it does work, but if it doesn’t we are also here to help if it does turn into an adoption,” said Tina Russell; Recruiter at Braley and Thompson Foster Care.
The process to become a foster parent is less complicated than it seems. Russell is a former foster parent who now works with interested families and walks them through the process.
“I felt like I played a role in helping that biological parent feel like that child was with someone who was going to provide them with a safe and nurturing home until they could be re-unified,” said Russell.